My family and are bummed. I got word today that Tin's Tea House Lounge, the Chinese restaurant on Mt. Diablo Boulevard that serves great Dim sum at lunch and on weekends, is closing this weekend.
The restaurant opened about five years ago. Its Walnut Creek site was the sister establishment of the popular Tin's Tea House in Oakland's Chinatown.
In a 2004 review in the San Francisco Chronicle, owner Alice Wan explained that she opened a Tin's in Walnut Creek because customers demanded a good Dim sum restaurant east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Apparently, many of her customers would drive from Contra Costa County or the Tri-Valley into Oakland to dine at Tin's, and they clamored for a restaurant closer to home.
Wan gave them what they wanted, and things seemed to go well.
My husband, son, and I have enjoyed a fair number of impromptu Saturday and Sunday Dim sum lunches at Tin's. The service was always quick, and the meal affordable and delicious. I'm also grateful for the fact that my 11-year-old son--who still turns his nose up at most anything green--loves seafood and many Asian dishes. I could eat Asian every night of the week!
If you've never had Dim sum (a word which literally means "touch the heart"), you could say that this type of cuisine represents the original concept of small plates.
At Dim sum restaurants, employees roll by your table with carts laden with plates or small steamer baskets. Each plate and basket contains a small portion of a meat, seafood, or vegetable dish. You choose the dish or say "no thanks." You get charged by every dish you choose. The advantage to this Dim sum version of small plates dining is that you can sample a variety of dishes--even the traditionally and highly prized Peking Duck! (Frankly, I've never tried Peking duck. Is it any good? I'd love to know!)
So, my family is sad about Tin's closing. Yes, we also are big fans of Yank Sing in San Francisco. We go there if we happen to be going into the city on a Saturday or Sunday. (The San Francisco Chronicle's imagination- and geography-callenged uber-critic Michael Bauer named Yank Sing one of the top 100 Bay Area restaurants. However, in Yank Sing's case, I'd say the Top 100 honor is deserved.)
Back to Tin's: It's been awfully nice to have a place, close by--in fact, within a mile of home--that satisfies my craving for steamed and plump shrimp or scallop dumplings, pork buns, or deep-fried shrimp with walnuts.
I reached an employee at the restaurant who said the owner might try to find another location in Walnut Creek or nearby. Let's hope so.