365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
Koi Palace has been said by some to be the best Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area, if not the entire United States. Given its high reputation, I have been meaning to dine here for a very, very long time but the location has been simply inconvenient for me. Many of my Bay Area family members live on the East Bay and nearly all of my friends are either in the city (San Francisco) or Oakland. Given that it’s not very accessible by mass transportation.
However, I rented a car when I was in town two weeks ago and got a couple of friends to get together, catch up, and eat Dim Sum, a fairly good measuring stick of the quality of a Cantonese seafood restaurant. We met up and waited about 45 minutes for a table. For me that was short compared to waits at some LA dim sum joints, however I learned that this is fairly long for the Bay Area. Once we were seated we ordered a pot of chrysanthemum and pu’erh tea.
Like most modern, upscale Cantonese seafood restaurants, we ticked things off a colorful menu and handed it to a server. Unbeknownst to all of our group, we discovered that we ordered 12 items off the menu, not counting the silken tofu dessert we would have later. Even for a group of 4 people, those 12 items would be a lot. These items included:
- Blanched Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce (excellently blanched, though could have used more oyster sauce)
- Siu Mai (probably the best I had in my life. Very juicy and delicate, arguably better than Sea Harbour)
- Rice Noodles wrapped with shrimp (decent, though I’m generally not a huge fan of rice noodle rolls)
- Egg custard tarts (good, though I wish the crust was a little flakier)
- Daikon cakes (very nicely fried)
- Coffee baked ribs (great flavor, but I felt like there was too much meat)
- Buns filled with egg custard (decent, though not any better than a good Chinese bakery in Chinatown)
- Yangzhou Style Fried Rice (the restaurant is apparently known for this. It was well prepared, though a friend gave it only 8.5 out of 10)
- Har gow (wrappers were good and not too thick and sticky)
- Silken Tofu Dessert (grainier than usual, though the syrup was good)
As for the service, it was better than most Dim Sum restaurants, especially in LA, in that they took time to refill waters and replenish the tea pot with hot water.
Overall the food was pretty good, but all in all not the best Dim Sum I have ever had. At this moment, that still goes to Sea Harbour in Rosemead (though I am planning to go to Vancouver and Hong Kong this year). Given that the bill came to just a little over $25 with tax and tip, it wasn’t the best of bargains either. I was notified later that Koi Palace really shines at dinner service, so that will be something to look forward to at my next trip to the Bay Area. However, in the end, yum cha is about drinking tea, eat food, and having a good time conversing with friends. On the last note, it was definitely nice to catch up with friends in the Bay.