dumplings and pie

Every so often, a very dear group of friends meet with me and Jay for dinner. It’s never a formal affair, and I like it that way. We pick a low-key, neighborhood gem of a restaurant and spend our time sharing delicious food, swapping funny stories, and supporting each other in our goals. While the focus is always on the company, we have quite a few foodies in the bunch — so it goes without saying that we’ve always eaten more than well.

Our latest venture?: Shan Dong Restaurant in Oakland. This place boasts more than 1,000 reviews on Yelp, most of which rave over its dumplings and hand-pulled noodles.

Verdict?: totally delicious. The dumplings and hand-pulled noodles were thick, chewy, and clearly made with love by the ladies in the front. The noodles can be served in myriad ways, but we chose to have it with the sesame paste — delicious, but thick and definitely best shared. We also had the Shan Dong chicken (essentially an excellent orange chicken), and, not pictured, pea sprouts (which provided much-needed color to our dinner) and green onion pancake (always a favorite).

This is definitely a hole-in-the-wall place, with tables that tilted to one side, chopsticks in paper wrappers, weak yellow lighting, and awful acoustics. Its grungy appearance, however, only confirms Jay’s die-hard belief that the best food comes from cheap, mom-and-pop joints. I’d have to agree.

We finished our dinner by retreating to S’s apartment, where K had graciously brought a pie to share. This wasn’t any old pie, though. This was the type that K had grown up on, from a particular diner in San Mateo. After one taste, I was wishing I’d also grown up in the vicinity of Heidi’s Pies. My slice had everything I could ever want in a fresh peach pie: perfectly ripe peaches, subtly creamy custard, a light and flaky crust. If the season of summer could be condensed into one dish, I believe this would be it.

It was a sweet ending to a decidedly bittersweet night, as D will soon be leaving us to live abroad. When she’s back, you can be certain that good food (and yes, amazing desserts!) will be waiting.

Shan Dong Restaurant
328 10th St, Ste 101
Oakland, CA 94607

Heidi’s Pies
1941 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
www.heidipies.com

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