Oakland >Food & Dining > Restaurant Peony
388 9th St Ste 288, Oakland, CA | Directions 9460737.800126 -122.271197
M-Th 11a-3p & 5:30p-9:30p; F 11a-3p & 5:30p-10p; Sa 10a-3p & 5:30p-10p; Su 10a-3p & 5:30p-9:30p
Neighborhoods: Downtown Oakland, Chinatown
DO NOT GO THERE – The service was terrible. The dim sum cart only made its way to our table 3 times and we had to order our dim sum with the waitress and in addition to the dim sum, we also ordered noodles. We waitied 30 minutes and finally left. They were slow as snail. I recommend Legendary Palace 708 Franklin St., between 7th and 8th Street within walking distance from Peony. Their dim sum are good and their service is excellent. The waiters and waitresses are everywhere and the dim sum cart comes to your table constantly. On weekends, arrive at Legendary Palace before 11AM to avoid putting on a waiting list for a table. However, the wait is just 20 minutes max. It is well worth the wait.
The Restaurant is a fraud! – We had made a non-refunable deposit of $100.00 for a dinner reservation for the next month. The manager, Mr. VINCENT KWONG, wrote us a receipt. We had to cancelled the dinner a few days later because something came up. Mr. Kwong nicely told us that we could use the deposit money some other times and there was no expiration date on the receipt. A couple months later, I went back to the restaurant and tried to use the deposit money to buy some take-out. I shown him the receipt with his signature on it. Mr. Kwong told me that he couldn't verify if the receipt was valid. I needed to come back to the restaurant Monday through Friday, between the time 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to talk to their ACCOUNTANT DEPARTMENT to clear the issue. After I left the restaurant, I discovered that there is a line on the lower left corner on the receipt, printed in Chinese saying "Please return this receipt when used".
Mr. Kwong could not verify if the receipt was valid or not was a lame excuse. If I had actually used the deposit money, he would took back the receipt. This is just not a right way the do business. THE RESTAURANT TRIED TO GET MY MONEY WITHOUT GIVE ME MY FOODS.
Consumers, I also heard that when you dine-in, please carefully exam your bill to see if they already add the 15% tips on it on purpose do not matter that you only have two people in your group. DO NOT DOUBLE PAY YOUR TIPS!
Average dim sum, price ok, service pretty bad – Food: 2.5 stars, Service: 1 star, Price: 3 stars
We had a full table on a Sat at 11 am (prime time). Not many carts were circulating and I did not see any favorites like shrimp ha gow. They had basics like shu mai and beef buns. It took a while to find even the most common things like chat su bow (bbq pork bun). We were missing and had to ask for soy sauce, vinegar, tea, etc. Our appointed table lead person sat near the aisle and had trouble getting these things to us even though she was fluent in Cantonese.
The worst offense was when she tried to order us a basic veggie plate (bok choy). (She spoke with our waiter, not the cart-pusher, btw). The conversation went like this in Cantonese:
"What vegetables do you have?"
"Ok, how about bok choy?"
"What do you mean?"
"Can you bring us a plate of bok choy?"
"Ok, how do you want it cooked?"
"Um, stir fried"
"What size, small or big?"
"Sorry, it only comes in big."
"Ok, big then."
We ended up with a plate that was 90% chicken bits on a small bed of bok choy. Sure, we didn't make the effort to get his promise that the plate would be mostly bok choy, but it was clear he was not being helpful.
The final price was reasonable, about $12 per person including tax on top of the mandatory 10% service charge. They have a laminated sheet (which is accurate, I checked) explaining that mandatory service charges are allowed to be taxed under CA law. I didn't know this, but at least it's good to know they are not doing something illegal. Just be ready for it. Being charitable, I think it's an attempt to introduce tipping to a culture that ordinarily doesn't.
I personally would prefer to go somewhere with better service and higher quality dim sum, but our experience was almost adequate here.
Best dim sum around, but GO EARLY. You won't be disappointed! – Peony is some of the freshest, most mouth-watering dim sum you can get in the Easy Bay Area. That being said, do not head out to Peony expecting a Western-Style dining experience.
The service generally isn't rude or horrible, as other reviews suggest, but you're not going to get much (if any) personal attention. You'll sometimes need to be aggressive with flagging down the carts as they roll by, you will probably feel ignored to some extent, and good luck getting a glass of water (I bring my own bottle of water, usually). The place is crowded and crazy, so don't waste their time haggling over the 10% "service charge" - that's just how they do it there. It's definitely an "an-business" atmosphere, which can come off as being terse and make you feel brushed-off.
If you go there with these things in mind, you will have an amazing dim sum experience. Considering the volume of food that this place cranks out, it's amazing that they're able to maintain the freshness and variety that they do, but somehow they do it. The seaweed salad is wonderful, you really can't go wrong with any of their dumplings, and their coconut cake melts in your mouth.
The one thing that I would strongly advise, in order to avoid the insane waits and miscommunication that seems to be common there is to GO EARLY. If you get there between 10:00-10:45am, you're golden. If you show up after that, be prepared to wait. A long time. I'll continue going to Peony for dim sum as long as they're serving it up. Don't go expecting to have the underside of your teakettle kissed, and you won't regret the time and money spent.
Expect to spend between $20-30 for two people.
Improper Charging, Horrible Service outweights Okay Dim Sum – They taxed my gratuity (they call it 10% service charge). I complained and they would not help me. It wasn't worth the hassle for a dollar and change
Food is decent. But you can get better food without them trying to rip you off.
Most diverse dim sum menu – I read all the reviews and feel the restaurant gets a bad rap. It's definitely a hard-core Chinese restaurant that isn't typically directed to non-Chinese palates or service comforts. In most Chinese restaurants, it's a given the waiter/ess is elusive and patrons pack their own leftovers. I've visited numerous times with family that visit frequently and know half the people eating there. My hubby and I get an instant table, decently placed table and free dessert (some bean soup thing, really not a treat to me). What really makes this place great for dim sum is the variety and its authentic experience. You get the lady with carts, rushed waiters and loud patrons. Dim sum is about catching up with friends/families to eat small and scrumptious seafood/pork/sweet bites, drink tea and soak up the crazy frenzied place. Really, if you can't find a dish, you're supposed to grab someone and ask. No one will be offended, in fact, it's expected. It's not loud in there for nothing. At a four-star restaurant in the city, sure, your waiter will ask how you are, this is Oakland Chinatown, get real. And I always love that Restaurant Peony has a dim sum dish that is essentially fried milk. It perplexes me to think about it and it does so even as I'm eating it... frying milk. I've been to numerous dim sum places all my life in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, San Francisco proper... this is a better deal than most places out in SF/Millbrae, tastier than LA, completely superior to San Diego and Houston... Restaurant Peony isn't haughty (rather the complete opposite); it's a large banquet-style Chinese restaurant. Service at most dim sum restaurants are bad. All the waiters need to really do is bring tea, the check and be somewhat available for any other requests (water, special order dishes). I come here every couple of months...
EXCELLENT seafood and dim sum – This place has very authentic cantonese/hong kong fare! My father is a restauranteur/chef and I grew up in the business...this place is much better than most chinese restaurants in SF. My brother had his wedding banquet here and it was terrific. There is a back room available for parties. If you go expecting stellar service, than most chinese places aren't for you, but if you know how to order and can enjoy the noise of a busy sunday with delicious dim sum, I highly recommend it!
Bad Service, high prices. You decide. – I went here with my wife for dinner on 09/04/06. We'd heard that it was well-known for excellent dim sum and we thought their dinner entrees would be worth checking out. While the food was very tasty, the service experience discolored everything. The waitperson couldn't get around the fact that we had ordered something that required 20 minutes of preparation and asked us 4 times if we really wanted it. The items came out in no customary order (entree first, soup second, rice only when asked) and when we asked for our unfinished portions to go, the waitperson came back with a plastic bag of soup - they'd ladled it into cardboard cartons instead of a sealed container! When we pointed it out to him he shrugged, took it away, and returned with just the dry contents in a styrofoam cup, instead of offering a replacement.
Never going there again.
Not Recommended – I agree with liliasmith that the services is in Peony is really BAD. This is probably because the tip (around 15%)is mandatory and built into your bill and the waiters no longer have interest to impress you with their service. The first time I went there for dimsum with my friends we had to wait at least 30 mins to get our tea. not to mention the dimsum served was nothing close to being lukewarm. I end up going there a few more times for dinner and the service was slightly better but still generally bad. Seriously, you can get the same quality of food (similar greasiness and taste) in most places in Chinatown and it's not worth the money to encourage the waiters to keep this kind of service.
EXTREMELY BAD PLACE TO GO FOR DIM SUM – Never, ever go there. Extremely bad place. Waiters & servers are just ignoring you calling them (I was 100% sure they saw me waving my hand few times). Foods were very greasy and expensive. Air condition was poor and the restaurant was very hot and stuffy. In short, NEVER GO THERE, IT'S WASTE OF YOUR $$$$$!!!!!
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