949A Edgewater Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
For the past couple years there have been friends and family that have raved about Cooking Papa. Given all this adoration by multiple people who love very well made Cantonese food, I decided that the restaurant would be perfect for my birthday dinner meal.
Given its popularity, I should have known the restaurant would be packed and there would be lots of waiting, even for a party of one. The place was bustling and I ended up waiting about 30 minutes for a table. After my number was called, I squeezed into a small table and then began to browse its rather expansive menu. Overwhelmed with options, I decided to stick to a few of their signature dishes, as listed on the menu: a bowl of dumpling and wonton noodle soup, rice noodle roll with flour crisp, and Hong Kong style egg puffs.
The dumpling and wonton noodle soup came first, about 10 minutes after I ordered. While the supreme broth seemed more heavy on the pork and blander than others I have had, the other parts of the dish were excellent. Both the dumplings and wontons were stuffed almost exclusively with crispy shrimp that was just cooked right. Unlike many places, there was very little pork and the shrimp seemed very fresh. The noodles, if a little too much, were cooked perfectly with a nice chew. The vegetables were blanched well and not too soft in the broth.
Next came the rice noodle roll with flour crisp. The rice noodles had great texture and I did love both the peanut infused and hoisin like dipping sauces they had. My one disappointment is that the flour crisps were softer than I liked, probably due to absorbing the sauce at the bottom of the plate. That wasn’t much of a bad thing though as the sauce on the bottom was good.
The piece de resistance, however, were the Hong Kong style egg puffs which came out right as I finished the first two items I ordered. They came fresh from the kitchen with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. After the first bite of one of these pillows of light, sweet goodness, I felt like I was transported to paradise. The few bites after that it took me to finish one of the puffs were excellent as well, with a nice sweet egg presence throughout the middle of the puff.
The service was fast and efficient, but also relatively friendly. Some of the wait staff bantered with me in Cantonese and were able to understand my relatively limited Cantonese. The frenetic energy of the staff and kitchen could make those who want to enjoy a longer meal feel rushed (though I never felt rushed). However, given its popularity, I can’t blame them for wanting to turnover tables fast and allow other guests to experience the same delicious food.
Cooking Papa has minor flaws, like nearly all restaurants, but the quality, freshness, and overall execution of the food immediately vaulted them to my favorite Chinese restaurants list. There is no doubt I will be coming back the next time I am in the Bay Area.