[Oakland Chinatown] Imperial Soup - spare ribs over rice in bamboo and double-boiled duck soup


I was impressed with a recent early weekday lunch at the non-descript Imperial Soup at 723 Webster near 8th Street in Oakland Chinatown.

It’s been open for over a year and there haven’t been any reviews other than about 30 posts on ‘Y’ and a recent solo photo by Sarah Han of spicy beef flank noodle soup with thick noodles in Berkeleyside.

Before Imperial, it was Happy Café for a few years serving pho with ownership that I believe was from Hong Kong. And before that, I had had breakfast at Happy Café under a different staff when it opened at 7 or 8 am daily offering breakfast specials of jook, rice noodle, coffee and tea for about $4.

What caught my eye a few weeks ago were the listings for what looked like double-boiled soups, usually long-simmered in steam pots like Best Taste Restaurant, around the corner at 814 Franklin, serves in small red clay tureens, my favorite being the chicken and ginseng, for $2. Classic Guilin Rice Noodles at 261-A 10th Street had a wider selection of herbal broths accompanied with dubious claims of health benefits on the menu.

According to Luke Tsai, article linked below, soups prepared in the traditional Chinese double-boiling method have the soup ingredients sealed inside a small jar, then allowed to slowly simmer inside the big steamer for hours and then served hot.

Imperial had about 7 four-tops and a couple of longer tables back near the rear counter. Looks like there’s a mezzanine up some stairs to the left.

The waitstaff was helpful, service was fast for the combo lunch “C” with the choice of duck soup and spare ribs over rice in bamboo for $10.

The steamed duck soup came in a tureen larger than what I had been served at Best Taste and had a substantial portion of lean skinless duck, and some grain that looked like white hominy. Not salty, thankfully, rich with duck and hominy flavor, not quite the depth of the smaller Best Taste offerings, but with more meat and broth.

The spare ribs arrived in a bamboo boat with a side of gai lan in oyster sauce. The rice bed included corn, mushroom, specks of carrot and tofu with the spare ribs tender and fatty, the meat picking up some sweetness from the corn and rustic flavors from the bamboo.

While there for lunch, maybe 15 customers passed through.

Total bill was $10 plus tax and tip and CASH only.

Based on some of the ‘Y’ reviews, next time I’ll try the sea coconut (lodoicea) soup and the double layer steamed milk for dessert,

There is parking in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at Franklin and 9th or hoof it on the bus, AC Transit line 51A stops at Franklin and 8th or other lines and BART stop at Broadway and 11th Streets.

The photos I took for the slideshow, above, were done with an Olympus Tough TG-4 pocket camera, all jpegs, and edited in ProShow Web. You can select the video resolution in the lower right up to 1080p.

Luke in 2014 on the double-boiled soups at nearby Best Taste:

(Therese) #2

I stopped by a couple months ago and ended up getting the daikon & beef flank with egg noodle

and have been meaning to go back for some of the medicinal double boiled soups. The quality of the broth was better than a typical Oakland Chinatown place.