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One of SF’s most popular dumpling spots finally opens across the bay

United Dumpling's xiao long bao is the restaurant's bestseller. | Courtesy United Dumplings

It took a year and a whole lot of jackhammering, but United Dumplings—a Chinese comfort food favorite with locations in Bernal Heights and the Marina—is now open for business in the East Bay. The newest outpost soft-launched in early February along a row of restaurants on College Avenue in Oakland. 

Restaurateurs Julia Zhu and Sandy Zheng, longtime San Francisco residents who both grew up in northern China, have been expanding United Dumplings at a relatively fast clip. Less than two years after debuting the restaurant in Bernal Heights at the height of the pandemic, they unveiled a second location in the Marina in the fall of 2022, and this East Bay spot makes three. 

Zhu told The Standard that while the Marina dumpling house came together more smoothly, it’s taken over a year to renovate and permit the new restaurant in Oakland. For over 20 years, this storefront in Upper Rockridge—a block from the Oakland-Berkeley border—was home to Great Wall, a vegetarian-friendly Chinese eatery. Zhu said that after receiving the keys and surveying the dirt floor in the back storage room and outdated kitchen, she realized she had her work cut out for her.

“The place was in bad shape,” Zhu said.

A year later, the new restaurant is airy, bright and much larger than the Marina location, with a tiled walkway out front that sports Zhu and Zheng’s official motto—“In Dumplings We Trust.” 

The decision to open up shop in North Oakland was, in part, a consolation prize. Zhu said she hoped to find housing in Rockridge but couldn’t afford to live there. So she found another way to become a neighbor. 

“We love Rockridge,” Zhu said. “And we’re really excited to be here.” 

Zhu said she was also keenly aware that dumpling-lovers were traveling far and wide for their beef noodle soup and chicken potstickers. 

“People were crossing the bay to come to our San Francisco locations,” she said.

Luckily, East Bay diners can expect the same array of soup dumplings, rice dishes and hand-pulled noodles at the local chain’s other two locations. Zhu added that she expects the steamy xiao long bao to remain the star of the menu.

United Dumplings