In its nearly eight years of business, Dragon Gate Bar & Grille was a one-of-a-kind place in Oakland. As a restaurant, it served, hands down, some of the best Taiwanese food in the area—luxuriously tender beef noodle soup, stinky tofu and street-style grilled sausages sandwiched around slices of raw garlic. The genuine article. Then, in the back, there were the handful of private karaoke rooms where the real party happened, to the tune of $190 bottle service and as many Jay Chou and Jolin Tsai bangers as you cared to belt out.
Then, like so many beloved spots, the restaurant closed mid-pandemic, in January of this year, with barely a whimper and little more than an obligatory Eater obit.
Good news, though. In a few months, Dragon Gate will rise again a few blocks away from its original 300 Broadway location at a waterfront spot in Jack London Square proper—the former home of Kincaid’s. And owner Johnny Chang is doubling down on what he believes to be the restaurant’s greatest weapon: This time, he says, there will be even more karaoke rooms, and they’ll be bigger and better than before.
News of the comeback is a welcome relief for Taiwanese food lovers. While the Bay Area has seen a resurgence of the cuisine in the past couple of years, Oakland suffered a major setback with the loss of both Dragon Gate and, a few months later, Taiwan Bento. Chang says the restaurant faced all of the typical difficulties of these past two years, exacerbated by the amount of real estate it had dedicated to its karaoke rooms, which were unusable for almost the entirety of the pandemic. Left with only the meager income he could generate via delivery app-based takeout, Chang decided it didn’t make sense to renew the lease at Dragon Gate’s original location.