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Sep 8, 2006 01:28 AM

Disappointing Dim Sum at Fook Yuen in Millbrae

On Labor Day Monday we stopped at Fook Yuen in Millbrae for lunch before heading back to Salinas. Arriving at 11:45am, we had about a 20-minute wait for a table for 3, passing up a couple openings for the second floor.

From start to finish, the dim sum was lacking in so many ways. I'd not been here for about 3 years and it has gone waaaaaay downhill if this is typical.

We tried seven items, starting with a plate of pan-fried turnip cakes with a golden brown exterior. Well, that was on only one side, the other was white as snow. These had a decent amount of char siu nubbins, but oddly, little flavor.

Next up was the fried taro root dumplings. Somewhat oil-logged, but we were hungry and needed something quick. Despite a good touch with the real taro (chunky and flavorful) on the outside, the inside was mostly gravy and had little flavor. Switching back to steamed, I opted for the Teochew fun gor. The wrappers were not chewy, but soft and flabby. The filling was bland as can be -- where's the chili, peanuts, dried shrimp, etc.?

My mom's favorite, hom sui gok, came by and we tried an order of those. While golden brown in color, they were soft and watery, as if they'd been microwaved to reheat them! And, again, the filling was underseasoned and meager.

At this point I changed strategy and switched to braises. No better luck with the black bean spareribs which hadn't been cooked long enough nor the suen jook guen that had an off and sour flavor as well as mushy filling.

Mom and I wanted to leave at this point. But my father hadn't gotten his har gao yet, so I asked our waiter to bring an order from the kitchen. Here's the real insult, as you can see from this photo. Stiff and cracked wrappers, these had been reheated and maybe frozen more than once. The shrimp inside were mushy and iodined.

Image of bad har gao at Fook Yuen -

This lunch cost us $27. My mom's still grumbling about the "non-lunch", and probably will for a long time.

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  1. Fook Yuen lost their #1 chef about 7 months ago and they still have not recovered. We used to go there just for their fried spring rolls.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chewonthis

      The Kitchen in Millbrae snagged Fook Yuen's chef. We've had good reports on dinner but not dim sum yet at The Kitchen.

    2. Sorry to hear that, Melanie! Sounds like one would be better off buying frozen dumplings from TJ's. I haven't been to Fook Yuen in a couple of years, and was meaning to try it again, one of these days. But after your experience, I'll probably wait until they get a new chef.

      In the meantime, I guess it's Joy Luck for me. I think Koi Palace has better dimsum, but it's not so much better that it's worth battling crowds, waiting 20-45 minutes (with a reservation), and risking hearing loss from the din.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pilinut

        Having recently run completely out of food, I ate half a box of frozen dim sum from TJ's (half shrimp dumplings, half chicken, I think). I had steamed the first half in a rice cooker with the little platform, but I forgot to oil the platform and everything stuck to it, so I switched to microwaving. These frozen items were mediocre at best, not worth eating except as emergency food to tide me over on a Sunday morning. I'm sure Fook Yuen would be better!

      2. This is very disappointing news. I took my elderly parents there directly from the airport earlier this year. It was April, so it was after the chef change, but perhaps the decline was gradual. Anyway, they have eaten dim sum all over the world and thought it was some of the best quality ever. Maybe the Kitchen or the Flower Lounge on their next trip?

        1 Reply
        1. re: cwujd1

          I've only had dinner at The Kitchen, so can't offer a personal opinion on dim sum there yet. HK Flower Lounge and Zen Peninsula are also good options.