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Blue Sky Cafe - "HK" style western in Belmont

K K Mar 24, 2007 09:44 PM

Thanks to dabinlo (aka HK hot pot) for the heads up about this new place in Belmont.

Blue Sky Cafe, a new HK style western cafe kind a place, occupies the space that was Sichuan Court, nested in the corner of a complex of primarily office/business dwellings. Although the Sichuan Court huge signage is still around, the entrance doorway now says Blue Sky Cafe.

BSC is a little bit difficult to find. The address might not make sense when you are driving but that's what it says on their business card. You need to look for Holiday Inn Express and Papa Murphy's pizza across the street. Near the entrance ramp from El Camino into the complex is a sign by the curb that points where BSC is.

This is a rather small space, with about 12 ish tables. The menu is in English and Chinese with a white board specials of mostly rice plates and stir fry. The offerings are generic Hong Kong style cafe's, although I did note that the Chinese characters on the menu are shorthand, not traditional, indicating that the owners may be from China/Southern China and not Hong Kong (although I did have a nice chat with the owner who spoke perfect Cantonese herself although with a bit of a Mainland twang, didn't ask where she and her staff are from)

Entrees are very affordable, ranging from $4.95 to $6.95. Tons of varieties of rice plates, stir fry rice or noodles, noodle soup, ho fun, congee, and a few baked rice/baked pasta a la HK western style dishes, and also the obligatory HK style milk tea.

This place opened probably less than 4 to 5 days. I popped in earlier to get some take out, which currently makes up the bulk of their business. I had the French Toast which was quite authentic, basically two pieces of toast with peanut butter sandwiched together and deep fried (crunchy batter outside), served with syrup and butter for extra artery clogging goodness. Beef congee was sadly more watery than ricey/cottony but the beef was not bad. HK milk tea is definitely good, not superb, but way better than Top Cafe, and even better the Broadway Bistro's in Millbrae on their off day. In fact the owner apologize for the tea I got when I ordered it on ice, as she said the tea batch was still hot from brewing this morning, and the ice melted very quickly. Good flavor, not terribly strong, but it works. I went home and added more ice myself.

Currently cash only, open from 11 am to 11 pm everyday. They have not even advertised yet, and have to deal with the City of Belmont to apply for a permit to replace the Sichuan Court signage above the entrance door with their own.

The manager/owner recommended their won tons. Hopefully this place is decent enough on the other offerings for me to check them out again next time.

Blue Sky Cafe
1625 El Camino Real #9
Belmont, CA
(650)-595-0228

  1. c
    chewie May 6, 2007 12:02 AM

    Interesting input on this new restaurant. I've been there a few times since they've opened. I had dinner there this evening and was a bit disappointed. We ordered off of their specials list: Chinese broccoli, ox tail stew and house special steamed chicken. The portions tended to be on the skimpy side for the price; we had to order another dish to satisfy our hunger. Service was quick and pleasant but their food did not justify the cost on this visit.

    1. K K Apr 27, 2007 06:59 PM

      Credit card minimum order here is $15 now, fyi.

      On the white board instead of salt and pepper chicken wings, there's an entry for salt and pepper quail. They've updated the white board with traditional Chinese characters instead of the shorthand form.

      Word of warning, their location unfortunately traps heat. It was super hot in the afternoon inside. Hopefully they'll put in some fans.

      1 Reply
      1. re: K K
        r
        redwoodshores305 May 4, 2007 01:07 PM

        I had lunch there today and ordered three dishes, chicken chow fun (gravy style), seafood yee mein, and baked spaghetti. I thought they were all very good. I know the guy that has helped the owners get the business started and he recommended the beef stew (with real tendon), any of the baked dishes (chicken, pork chop, et. al.). As far as won ton goes he said the chef makes a fresh batch every day and his soup broths are from scratch bones, fish heads, etc. (he says other restaurants use powders to make their broths.

        I did not see a sign for credit card minimums (they are illegal anyways). They has a $3.25 menu between 2 and 5pm that sounds like a good deal.

      2. n
        naomib Apr 25, 2007 04:27 PM

        I visited Blue Sky today for to pick up lunch to go - I ordered Singapore Chow Fun for a co-worker, S & P chicken wings, and a milk tea with tapioca. I was a little disappointed - the didn't think the wings were flavorful at all, and the tapioca in the milk tea was waaaay overcooked - almost mushy. I should know better than to order tapioca from somewhere where it's not the main attraction (i.e. Tap Ex or Quickly). My co-worker said the chow fun had a good flavor but was extremely greasy - the oil had pooled in the bottom of her styrofoam container. I may go back and try some other dishes recommended here, but it might be awhile. On the plus side, they woman who took my order was very pleasant and my order was ready in a timely manner.

        2 Replies
        1. re: naomib
          p
          peppatty Apr 25, 2007 05:13 PM

          I agree with the S&P wings at Blue Sky. They are over marinated and a little on the dried out side. I had S&P wings today at Tai Wu (foster city) and they were great, big wing joints, crispy, hot and juicy inside. 8 for 5.95. Their milk tea tastes quite different than the Tap Express or Quickly, more similar to Broadway Bistro's (which is my favorite, but I'm so caffinated after drinking it I can't function), the pearls I have had even at the drink places have not always been consistent either, they are hard, too soft, too sweet or they're out and you have to wait 20 minutes. Sometimes it's just bad timing. Overall, I will eat at Blue Sky occasionally, just because there is nothing in the area (San Carlos) that has Cantonese comfort food...

          1. re: peppatty
            s
            sandrachang Apr 27, 2007 11:59 AM

            I went last night for dinner, and had the oxtails over rice - got 4 nice sized oxtails - they were cooked in a brown sauce with onions, celery and carrots - the flavor was good, the oxtails were tender - I also got the complimentary soup - I think it was tomato beef soup, but it was clear with some cabbage.
            I wanted to try the Oyster pancake, but the owner/waitress said that the oysters didn't look fresh, so they didn't have that yesterday.

        2. Melanie Wong Apr 20, 2007 11:07 PM

          Had dinner there tonight with my parents and brother. We had the s&p chicken wings again as an appetizer and then from the 3/$17.95 menu: s&p prawns, gai lan with preserved pork (lop cheong and lop yuk), and beef stew in clay pot. The chicken wings were piled up rather than laid out in one layer this time, but we made such short work of them, it didn't make a difference. We loved the complimentary soup included with the three-fer. As I've commented before, I think the soup stocks are a strong point here, such a change from the out-of-the-can and MSG-laden dreck often found at this price point. Tonight was ba wang hua (dragonfruit flower aka pitahaya), the first time I've tasted this in soup. It kinda reminded me of artichoke hearts.

          The beef stew was quite nice, a little sweeter in the finish this times. Lots of turnip in the clay pot. Prawns were fine, and the gai lan was a bit tough. Rice charge is $1 per person.

          BSC is taking credit cards now. Also, a new kitchen helper was being trained.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong
            m
            margret Apr 20, 2007 11:19 PM

            This is the second time we missed you. My hubby insisted on going to Santa tonight otherwise we would've been at Blue Sky and comparing notes. I'm glad to see that they're getting settled. That Ba Wang Hua soup was very timely seeing that you had the fried chicken wings; that soup is suppose to detoxify the blood. ;0)

            1. re: margret
              Melanie Wong Apr 20, 2007 11:33 PM

              Aw, too bad. It was almost 8pm when we arrived. One large-ish family group and another family of 4 were there.

              We had wanted to try the oyster pancake on the three-fer menu. But no oysters available today.

          2. p
            peachblossom Apr 20, 2007 02:59 PM

            Went to this place with my family and we enjoyed it. For the price of the items, it was a good deal. This type of food isn't meant to be gourmet but for the price and what you get, it's a good deal. I'd definitely go back for the special 3 for $18 menu.

            When we went we had the tea time specials. The dishes which were outstanding were the beef stew w/mein (we had a lot of tendon in ours) and the chicken with gravy over rice (listed as a lunch special)

            1. roberthu Apr 20, 2007 01:29 PM

              Thanks for the review. Based on your post, I tried the café for lunch. I had the egg plant with rice. Good flavors, decent portions. Thanks for the referring this place!

              2 Replies
              1. re: roberthu
                Melanie Wong Apr 20, 2007 11:08 PM

                Please keep us posted on what you try here, Robert.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  roberthu Apr 23, 2007 05:05 PM

                  Went back a second try with my kids and had the three plate special for an early dinner. Ordered the salt & pepper shrimp, broccoli with oyster sauce, sauteed green beans, added a combination chow fun and a beef with ginger & green onion dish the waitress recommended (probably would have chosen different dishes if the kids were not with me.) S&P shrimp was crisp and crunchy; The broccoli was good, but too much stalk, which made it a little tough - also needed to cut the broccoli in half so it's easier to pickup; The stir-fried green bean was decent; didn't care too much for the beef dish, and the chow fun was decent. Wouldn't call it my favorite, but since I live in Belmont, I'd probably come back to sample less kid-friendly dishes in the future.

              2. t
                ThaiSpice Apr 17, 2007 03:52 PM

                Ate at Blue Sky Cafe this afternoon. Found it to be pretty average. Ordered the Singapore Thin Rice Noodles, Spare Rib Chow Fun, Rice with Beef & Scrambled Egg, and some Chinese Broccoli steamed. Nice sized portions. The service was really good, the waitress was very attentive. Also had the HK Style Milk Tea hot which was a little bland but ok. I'm slightly disappointed because I went in with high expectations, but there was certainly nothing awful about the place at all. It was... OK.

                1. a
                  alina555 Apr 11, 2007 06:07 PM

                  I actually ate at Blue Sky by accident - I often got delivery from Szechwan Court because they were the only place in town I would be able to get deep fried prawns slathered in spicy garlic sauce. I placed my regular order last week, and was surprised to see a woman at my door instead of the guy who normally delivers. When I handed her my menu to stamp for a free meal, she looked at it strangely and then informed me it was a new restaurant. She said it had just opened and they would soon come by my neighborhood and drop off menus and coupons. I was kinda bummed to hear my old Chinese delivery was changed, especially when we saw the prawns and realized they had not kept any old recipes. Oh well. We had the prawns and sweet/sour pork and they were both ok, nothing outstanding. It sounds like this is a better spot for authentic HK style food, though. Too bad I'm not a HK style fan.

                  1. c
                    CYL Apr 11, 2007 04:59 PM

                    It is easy going north on El Camino Real to go right pass The Blue Sky Cafe. Had to, as others before me, also make a u-turn and double back to finally find it. Blue Sky Cafe is a hole-in-the-wall - only about 25 feet square with about 15 tables squeezed in the area – mostly tables for two and for four and one large round table (for ten?).

                    There were four of us, so we ordered four dishes from the 3-dishes –for-17.95 special menu – assorted meat with tofu, sweet and sour pork ribs Hong Kong Style, bitter melon with chicken, and salt and pepper chicken wings (there are 60 dishes on the list). The tofu clay pot (Chinese characters said eight gems tofu) and the chicken wings were smallish in portion size; the bitter melon and pork rib dishes were about regular portion size. I missed seeing all of eight gems in the clay pot. The hot chicken wings had a thin, crispy crust, slightly spicy but not objectionably so, and had about only eight middle-wing pieces (I like the Silver lake version better – more crispy). The bitter melon was with black bean sauce and nice pieces of white meat chicken breast. Would have been nice if there were more to the clay pot and the chicken wings, but all dishes were quite tasty and well done. The complimentary house soup was nice - fuzzy melon squash and four-ingredients herb soup. They have take-out menus available. Had to request to get a copy of the special 3 dishes for17.95 menu. White board attractive specials such as the red wine oxtail, special lamb clay pot, and “da-day” fish with gai-lan (flounder, according to waitress who checked with cook) are not on the 17.95 list.

                    Being there late noon, after our meal, we dove-tailed into the “Special Afternoon Tea Happy Hour of from 2:30 to 5:30 pm. My wife and I seized the opportunity to sample their discounted won ton soup (3.25 special). We shared an order of won ton soup that came with 5 won tons deleting noodles or fun. The won ton was excellent – medium to large golf ball size full of shrimp alone (comet with minmal tail) and perhaps a hint of bamboo shoot and the stock was very flavorful (made with lots of fish bones, according to waitress).

                    Our lunch at Blue Sky Cafe was quite enjoyable! Good for a quick, tasty, and homey meal.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: CYL
                      Melanie Wong Apr 11, 2007 05:07 PM

                      The s&p chicken wing appetizer is 8 middle joints for $5.50. I would have expected a couple more pieces myself on the 3-for menu.

                      P.S. My mother says dai day is flounder too.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        c
                        CYL Apr 11, 2007 06:18 PM

                        There used to be a very popular "yow dai day" which was a salted fish made by a special process by Chinese in Monterey. The people who used to do it have sinced retired and "yow dai day" is no more. That "dai day" was done from a bigger, flat halibut fish. One used to see dry salted halibut hanging in Chinatown stores. The salt fish was hard and chunky as compared to the soft and fragrant "mui heung" type of salt fish that Chinese also like.

                        1. re: CYL
                          Melanie Wong Apr 12, 2007 01:41 AM

                          You do know that my ancestors were among the first Chinese to land in Monterey under the Mexican flag and had something to do with this. I'm glad someone else knows about this bit of history.

                      2. re: CYL
                        K K Apr 11, 2007 05:41 PM

                        For the afternoon tea noodle soup, I requested shui gow instead of won tons, which the owner was willing to oblige even though it was not offered on the menu (for $3.25 I would assume they would shrink the portions and pieces of shui gow down). I think I got 3 to 4 shui gow's as I wanted to sample them, versus 5 to 6 for regular menu. Better than Top Cafe's for sure, and quite decent.

                        Gotta love $3.25 afternoon snacks and $1 drinks. Asian cheapness rocks! :-) (g)

                      3. f
                        faygorgor Apr 7, 2007 09:56 PM

                        Hi guys, sounds like we have some Blue Sky fans here, actually I am working on a Menus webpage for Blue Sky Cafe, it should be ready by April 15, 2007. The address is www.blueskycafeonline.com, the online menus will have everything you can order in store, including the Special Afternoon Tea, the $17.95 dinner menus and the famous white board. All food names will be translate into English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. You cannot order online, but you can always read the menus online and call them to order to go! Just a reminder, they do FREE DELIVERY when you order anything over $15.00.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: faygorgor
                          K K Apr 7, 2007 10:26 PM

                          You might want to put a detailed map of BSC's location. Sounds like it is still not that easy to find for others.

                          I personally would like to wish for the place to be open during breakfast in the near future, like 7 to 8 am timeframe. A good HK milk tea in the morning is sometimes better than coffee, along with a baked bun of some sort, and maybe some heart stopping deep fried French toast :-).

                          I remember speaking to the owner the first visit, who had not gotten around (at that time) to advertising on Chinese TV channels or newspapers.

                          With all the good word of online mouth coming from everyone here, maybe there's no need to now...

                          1. re: K K
                            f
                            faygorgor Apr 8, 2007 04:25 PM

                            I will add the BSC's location to the webpage, maybe link to yahoo's search map too if possible. Maybe I should link it to a voting page also, to vote what should improve and etc..., thanks for the input KK

                            1. re: faygorgor
                              yimster Apr 11, 2007 04:31 PM

                              Just a update on the website, I was able to read all the menus on this site
                              blue-sky-cafe.com.

                              Also the Blue Sky sign is up and the cafe is now easier to find.

                              Had the afternoon snacks and found it good for the price not any new dishes but like the jooks.

                              1. re: yimster
                                Melanie Wong Apr 11, 2007 05:05 PM

                                Thanks for the new url, http://blue-sky-cafe.com/ . It looks like the 3/$17.95 menu is on pages 6 & 7.

                                1. re: yimster
                                  K K Apr 11, 2007 05:37 PM

                                  Yep, nice afternoon CHEAP snackage at reduced but fufilling portions. Best of all, $1 drinks like Fat Wong's. The owner recognized me from my first visit a few weeks ago and hooked me up with a free re-fill of my iced milk tea.

                                  I snuck in yesterday as well and about 3/4 of the meal Yimster walks in :-). Also thanks for the website. It was a pleasure.

                                  I actually had a beef congee to go but forgot to mention it the first time. It was a bit watery, but were it not, it would have been good and hit the spot.

                                  I too gave feedback to the owner (Sharon) that the salt pepper chicken wings were on the salty side. Perhaps this is better as is with rice or noodles, but when you eat it plain, it is very salty (or maybe this is better with Japanese sake?). The chef is a fairly young looking guy too, he's got some good skills there. BSC is pretty much a 2 person operation right now, so I suppose opening for breakfast will be out of the question in the short term.

                                  Business for them is picking up, in large thanks it seems to this thread.

                                  1. re: K K
                                    yimster Apr 11, 2007 05:57 PM

                                    Yes, the best part of yesterday was to meet KK, a real treat.

                                    Sharon told me that she plan to open for breakfast soon. It seem that the chef and Sharon are husband and wife and this is turly a family business.

                                    I ask if someday later down the road maybe a set wo choy menu. When that happens a possible chowdown site.

                                    1. re: yimster
                                      a
                                      AJ8 Apr 21, 2007 02:50 PM

                                      Went there for lunch today and ordered tomato beef jeen mein and black bean spareribs chow fun. Had high expectations going in and taking that first bite into each dish, I could sense the wok chi but all in all was just average. What was really outstanding and tasty was the complimentary soup which was some kind of melon. The service was very good but what was slightly annoying was how loud they had the volume on of the Calgary-Detroit hockey playoff game on the 46" flatscreen tv overhead. I'll probably go there again and try out something else, perhaps some dishes off the whiteboard

                          2. K K Mar 27, 2007 10:52 PM

                            Got a drink to go earlier this evening on the way home and had a chance to study the white board a bit. About 90% of it in traditional full form Chinese and 10% shorthand, which was weird (maybe laziness after writing so many items, assuming they started full and ended short...)

                            Beneath the white board and easily missed were some specials in English that did not match the white board items, and were strictly for being non Chinese friendly. I suppose in a wacky way this part is the "white" board (almost every Chinese run restaurant would have something like this, even Chef Wai in San Mateo during lunchtime today on their menu as lunch specials/combos).

                            From what I remember on the Chinese white board today, were "chef's recommendations". Nothing super or extra ordinary:

                            Stir fried dow miew with garlic (what were these called again in English? Pea shoots?) forgot if they were the big or small kind

                            some kind of small (dried?) fish stir fried with gai lan (dark leafy green "chinese broccoli" but that's probably an incorrect translation)

                            Another veg, clear stir fry prep

                            (basically you can custom order any style and/or type of veg you want, shouldn't cost an arm and a leg, and it is not a unreasonable or odd request)

                            salt pepper fried chicken wings

                            salt pepper fried quail

                            yellow fur chicken (free range chicken, likely poached or steamed)

                            clay pot (salted fish with other ingredients, can't remember if it was tofu and chicken or something else)

                            And 6 more items I can't remember. At least one or 2 of those were rice plates, but nothing remarkable to me.

                            I don't recall prices, sorry.

                            I think that white board is more or less this the restaurant's way of saying, hey we offer all sorts of stuff, including snack fare (butter or PB toast, or french toast etc), the HK style western part (HK style milk tea, baked spaghetti or rice dishes with meats), the stir fried noodles or rice dishes, congee, noodles (to satisfy that niche of Cantonese simple comfort quick fare), and now including beyond the regular menu; sit down restaurant family style fare of stir fry dishes (outlined above) with what we have available/fresh today veg wise and what the chef can also do that we might not have had the chance to put on the regular menu or just trying it out.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: K K
                              Melanie Wong Apr 2, 2007 02:19 AM

                              Here's my photo of the offerings on the white board.
                              http://farm1.static.flickr.com/190/44...

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                K K Apr 2, 2007 08:05 AM

                                From right to left:

                                Blue Sky Cafe Yellow Fur Chicken Congee - $6.95
                                Salt Pepper Chicken Wings - $5.50
                                Salt Pepper Quail - $4.95
                                Red Wine (braised) Ox tail clay pot - $7.95
                                (secret receipe/self made) Lamb brisket clay pot - $7.95
                                Salt fish, chicken, and tofu clay pot - $6.95
                                Beef over rice (with bamboo?) - $5.95
                                4 season beans - $5.95
                                salt fish, chicken, and eggplant clay pot - $6.95
                                clear stir fried yoh chow sum - $6.95
                                gai lan stir fried with dai day yu/some sort of (dried) fish -$7.95
                                Garlic stir fried large pea shoots/dou miew - $7.95

                                1. re: K K
                                  Melanie Wong Apr 2, 2007 06:21 PM

                                  Many thanks! After we'd eaten, I asked our waitress, who I think might be one of the owners, what she recommended on the board for next time. She seemed very proud of the yellow fur chicken and the quail.

                                  You know I've had the gai lan with the dried fish (translated by a friend's father as 'big land fish') at R&G Lounge and Hong Kong Pavilion in Millbrae, based on servers' recs, and neither version seemed that special to me.

                                  Here's a photo of the door with the name of the new business.
                                  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/239/44...

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                    K K Apr 2, 2007 07:45 PM

                                    Dai Day Yu/Big Land fish, I am not sure it is dried or not, but I'm guessing it is based on the price. I might have had that stir fried with veg before, and that's typically something that anyone can make at home. Marina, 99, or any Japanese supermarket will have dried anchovy or any type of small dried silvery fish. I might have done that a while ago at home (just to see how the two would complement or disharmonize rather from each other which I learned in the end) and the dried fish made the veg taste terrible....really bad.

                                    The dried fish stir fried with veg dish, sounds very much like home style / countryside cooking, in the old days when meat was expensive.

                                2. re: Melanie Wong
                                  s
                                  sandrachang Apr 3, 2007 09:55 AM

                                  So I went to try the place last night; it's a little hard to find, even with the above hints, I had to U-turn it at Harbor.
                                  So the Salt fish, chicken, and tofu clay pot is what caught my eye, so I was just going to order that to go. The owner (I think) told me that they have the dinner specials (3 dishes for $17.95, includes daily soup), which the salted fish clay pot was one of them. There were items were on both sides of the paper, but they didn't have as much as Silver Lake. I ended up getting also the Salt Pepper spare ribs, and Fish Filet with various vegetables. The soup was a egg drop soup with corn.
                                  The soup was pretty good, pretty tasty - a little heavy on the cornstarch, but I'm nitpicking.
                                  The salt/pepper ribs were a little heavily seasoned, almost on the verge of being too salty, but okay - They didn't cut a hole in the box, so it wasn't that crispy, but good amount of garlic, not that spicy.
                                  The fish/vegetable dish had celery, mushrooms, carrots, and snap peas. The fish filets were decent.
                                  The salted fish, chicken, and tofu pot was in a soup container - it was very heavy on the tofu - not a heavy salted fish flavor (I prefer more salted fish flavor) and the chicken was few. I wouldn't mind this if the ratio of tofu to chicken was a little better.

                                  Overall, the food was okay - the owner is Toisan; we were chatting because she was talking about her son.

                                  I think next time I'll try the oxtail clay pot -
                                  They don't have any togo menus yet printed, but hopefully soon.

                                  1. re: sandrachang
                                    K K Apr 3, 2007 10:13 AM

                                    Toishan is about an hour north of Canton province/Guangzhou by train. The dialect is a derivation or spinoff of Cantonese in some senses. Interesting enough I knew someone by the exact same name as you whose family was from Toishan, but that's another story and world. That does explain the Cantonese "twang" the owner spoke.

                                    Glad to hear people are trying this place out. I still have yet to have a proper sit down meal here myself.

                                    1. re: K K
                                      m
                                      margret Apr 3, 2007 12:34 PM

                                      The "twang" comes from toishan people trying to speak standard cantonese. We had a decent meal there Sunday night. The place was indeed very hard to find. The woman owner noted that they are trying really hard to get the City of Belmont to speed up the sign change process. We had a mish/mash of food to test out their "cafe" strengths.

                                      Water dumplings: good, on the small side, broth a little weak but decent;
                                      Wonton Noodles: ok, wonton not very snappy; noodles were ok
                                      Dried fried beef chow fun: Great wok breath, not overly heavy with the soy sauce, not greasy. A winner although we could of had more beef
                                      Stewed Beef noodles (Ngou Nam Mien): Very good flavor in the stewed beef althought it needed a little more cooking
                                      Baked porkchop rice: The sauce was standard tomato-based. The pork chops were forgetable but ok. The fried rice was fantastic...individual kernals and minimum fat. Very good.
                                      Saute bean shoots: Ordered from the white board and this was a nice large plate of vegetable. Nicely picked through so that we had tender shoots.

                                      We also had their freshly made HK milk tea and it is very good. Not up to HK standards but very enjoyable.

                                      The place was pretty empty on Sunday night and I fear that people just don't know they're there. These people are trying very hard and perhaps if they advertise in papers or something, more people would know. The place is very hidden and you wouldn't even know a restaurant is even there. The food is good but not WOW enough for the word to get out to go there. I wish them luck.

                                      Margret

                                      1. re: margret
                                        Melanie Wong Apr 7, 2007 01:56 PM

                                        margret, we must have just missed you! We got there around 5:45pm last Sunday and left just before 7. A (non-Asian) family of 8 got there just ahead of us, and we rushed to get our order into the kitchen ahead of them.

                                        My dad had the wonton dumpling noodle soup that he shared with us. Not WOW, but better than 80%, maybe 90% of what's out there. Here's the photo -
                                        http://farm1.static.flickr.com/198/444257457_491dcf3173.jpg?v=0
                                        The noodles weren't as springy as I'd like, and it seems to me that they're the same as the ones TC Pastry in SF uses. I agree that the broth is a little weak. But for $5.50 and wontons made with whole shrimp plus tasty sui gao, this is a pretty good snack.

                                        We did have one WOW dish, the salt and pepper chicken wings. Here's the photo,
                                        http://farm1.static.flickr.com/240/44...
                                        These were on the salty side, but so juicy and succulent. Just the wing joints, the skin was perfectly crispy and nongreasy. William pointed out that arraying them in a single layer on the plate on a bed of lettuce kept them from steaming and each one stayed nice and crisp. Yes, that's a whole bunch of chopped garlic on top with scallions and bits of hot chilis, but can there ever be too much garlic? The 8 pieces were $5.50 and a no-brainer to order again. From the reports so far, it sounds like the s&p dishes are a strength here.

                                        Then we had two dishes that were not good from the western side of the menu: baked Portuguese chicken and the oxtail rice plate. Our waitress (the owner?) noticed that we hadn't eaten them and offered to take them off the bill if we weren't happy, but we declined. She asked what should be different, and I was frank telling her that the oxtails had too much sweetness and needed more savory elements of onion, garlic, celery, spices. The chicken dish was a huge serving but equally bland. She comped us two desserts, the red bean ice.

                                        My theory here is that there are two cooks in the kitchen and one needs more training because some of the dishes do show an experienced hand. My Chinese isn't good enough to understand everything our waitress was trying to explain to me. But I think she was saying that the western dishes are new for them and they're still working on them, also that the helper is from the previous restaurant here and is learning to make non-Americanized dishes. She recommended that we try more of the noodle dishes next time and order from the white board. From my small sample, I think it's better than D&A in SF and Oakland.

                                        We still have a couple months of weekly visits to Belmont ahead of us, so I'm happy to have this option near by. I hope we'll continue to hear from 'hounds as they sample the inexpensive food here to figure out what's good. Apparently they're doing a good lunch business during the work week. Our waitress was much more friendly and helpful than I usually run across at this price point and that itself makes this little cafe stand out.

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                                          m
                                          margret Apr 9, 2007 12:48 AM

                                          Yep, just missed you. I would've love to exchange notes with you. We also had the chicken wings and i thought they were really flavorful. My dining mates all thought it was too salty. Thanks for the pic

                                          1. re: margret
                                            Melanie Wong Apr 9, 2007 03:51 PM

                                            My first impression of the s&p chicken wings was too salty as well. But there's so much flavor, everything came into balance to my taste.

                                            The tea time discount menu has the plain fried chicken wings for $3.25. Might be worth a try.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                              s
                                              sandrachang Apr 10, 2007 11:44 PM

                                              I tried the s&p chicken wings, and even though they are a little salty, they are good - ditto on the won ton noodles - the won tons have good amount of shrimp, but I wasn't crazy about the noodles - the broth was well flavored. I also tried the fish balls in curry sauce (togo) - it was pretty good and I liked the curry sauce - had a little bit of a kick to it.

                              2. K K Mar 27, 2007 05:09 PM

                                Anyone else who goes, please report back if they make a great baked pork chop over rice. Sounds like the won tons and shui gow are worth the trip if you are in the area. Thanks.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: K K
                                  yimster Apr 6, 2007 06:08 PM

                                  Had the baked pork chop rice in a combination dish with some baked fish. I have not had HK style western food so I not the one who should post on this but the pork chop was pan fried prior to baking and had good flavor and texture.

                                  I had a meal with my son and were order the oxtail clay and found good but WOW, also we order the salt and pepper squid and had a bad one on this meal (the earlier one was great)

                                  Also read the menu that they have a discounted tea time special are reduce prices, will have to return later to check this out. 3:30 to 5:30 PM daily.

                                  1. re: yimster
                                    Melanie Wong Apr 8, 2007 08:52 PM

                                    My dad and I were in Belmont again today and had a snack this afternoon during the 2:30pm to 5:30pm happy hour. Here's a photo of the menu, which has afew more choices than on the now printed take-out menus.
                                    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/211/451732795_136f511921_o.jpg

                                    When we arrived at 4pm, we were the only ones there. But soon 7 others trickled in and it seemed that some were return customers, so I think the word is getting out about this place, now in its third week. The lady server (owner?) recognized us and made us feel very welcome.

                                    Dad had the beef stew noodle soup, $3.25. He asked for more of the tendon and the lady said she'd ask the kitchen to fish out some for him. Later when she saw him struggling a bit with the long noodles, she said she'd ask the kitchen to cut them for him next time. Then she got a fork and knife and asked him if she could cut them in the bowl for him. The chunks of stewed brisket had nice spicing but as margret points out from her visit, could use a longer time on the fire. The broth was quite good and the noodles were much better than our first time with more spring to them.

                                    I had the minced beef and preserved vegetable rice noodle soup, $3.25, and a hot milk tea, $1. Tasted on its own, the broth for this was low in salt and bland. But when the Rio Negro of the saucy minced beef and veggies blended with the Rio Solimões of the murky, lighter-colored broth, the seasoning was just right. The stocks seem fairly MSG-free.
                                    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/215/45...

                                    That said, I'd order the beef stew bowl again, not sure about the beef and preserved veggies.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                      yimster Apr 9, 2007 03:42 PM

                                      My son and had lunch today and enjoyed the three dishes for 18 or so.

                                      I ordered the following
                                      Beef Stew in a Clay Pot
                                      Salt and Pepper Fish (it read Flounder but it could have been Basa)
                                      Chicken with Green onion and Yellow Stir Fry (I misread it as something else)

                                      The Stew and Fish were both outstanding and would order again.

                                      The Stir Fry is not something I would reorder until I try other dishes.

                                      Now I have to try the afternoon tea specials next.

                                      The staff was more friendly as the young lady knew us as return customers. There at least five other tables of customers and all expect one table had Cantonese speaking cumtomers and I hope they make a go of it. I do not have to travel as far for good Cantonese comfort food.

                                      1. re: yimster
                                        Melanie Wong Apr 9, 2007 03:50 PM

                                        Good, I think we've got the beef stew variations and salt and pepper style dishes clearly in the win column here. The kitchen seems to be cooking with no or a minimum of MSG compared to other inexpensive Cantonese spots.

                                        When I was in a Mexican grocery store recently, I noticed a pack of frozen "flounder" from China. It had the pinkish-beige color that I recognized as the same fish I've had in various filet of flounder dishes at Cantonese spots. That always tastes like basa to me too, and I'm wondering is that's what it really is.

                                2. p
                                  peppatty Mar 27, 2007 02:18 PM

                                  Just had lunch there today. Thank goodness for a fair choice in the Belmont/San Carlos area for won ton noodle soup. The won tons were full of shrimp, the noodles a bit soft for my taste, but there aren't many choices around here so it'll do...I had the beef stew won ton noodles. The beef stew was tender and basic. The hot milk tea was decent, though I prefer the one at Broadway Bistro, Millbrae. Can't wait to try other dishes. It's in the mini-mall north of the Neptune Society, if you still can't find it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: peppatty
                                    Melanie Wong Mar 27, 2007 09:23 PM

                                    Finally, something mid-Peninsula. Here's a link to dabinlo's posting and head's up on Blue Sky Cafe.
                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30916...

                                  2. yimster Mar 25, 2007 01:47 PM

                                    Thanks for the lead KK, today after reading your post and ran up the road to give them a try. I order the Shrimp Dumpling (water dogs) to see if you recommenaton wourld be good. I was very happy with my order. Lots of shrimp, but the clear broth could be better but I will live with it. I did listen to the chefs in the kitchen and they sounded very Cantonese to me.
                                    I was surpise that I want the only one there.

                                    Service was quick and I will be back for another try soon than later. Sorry to say my Chinese was not good enough to read the white board. Maybe next time I will have the young lady read it for me.

                                    Need to try some of the

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: yimster
                                      K K Mar 25, 2007 10:22 PM

                                      Thank dabinlo for the initial lead. I just followed up on it with a bit more detail.

                                      People from Guangzhou and 1 hour north of there Toishan, which is still considered Southern China, speak Cantonese. The use of shorthand Chinese characters on the menu which is not done in Hong Kong, let alone Chinatown for HK style cafes, or amongst HKers, was a bit of a giveaway that they might not be from HK

                                      Thanks for trying the shui gow/shrimp dumplings. Did you get them plain or with egg noodles, and if the latter how were the noodles? That's a good test (along with shui gow), but it sounds like it is certainly not in the quality of Cafe Selena/Broadway Bistro or the Millbrae Ming Tai which sadly shut its doors.

                                      1. re: K K
                                        yimster Mar 26, 2007 07:57 AM

                                        Only had the dumpling but will try the noodles next time, but they are close to Ming Tai in Millbare. After there closing I fear that I would have to go the city to have good wontons. But now I have something much much closer and will be back to try other dishes. I sure that the other are/were better but Blue Sky is closer to me. With gas as high as it is that makes me happier.

                                        So I feel better that now that you explain that this was the short form Mainland writing since I am still learn the old form and was at a lost in trying to read the white board.

                                        1. re: yimster
                                          K K Mar 26, 2007 08:08 AM

                                          I remember taking a quick glance at the white board, but did not study it because little kk was running rampant around the restaurant. The Chinese characters looked traditional (full) for the white board, but the regular menu was for sure entirely in shorthand (for the Chinese bit).

                                          Did you taste any pork fat in the shui gow? That's also a reason why Ming Tai's version is(Noriega) / was(Millbrae) so decadently tasty. How about wood-ears?

                                          Broadway Bistro and Cafe Selena have pretty decent won tons and shui gow, but I hear from family that Chef Wai in San Mateo has even BETTER versions (lunch time only). You might want to try it there too.

                                          1. re: K K
                                            yimster Mar 26, 2007 06:43 PM

                                            The shui gow did have pork fat and wood ear and very good. Told my son about a place that may match Ming Tai in Won Ton, he pick me up after my work out and we had lunch.

                                            Won Ton Noodle soup
                                            Salt and Pepper Squid
                                            Portguese Chicken Baked over rice.

                                            Very please with all. The wonton were close to Ming Tai and the son said thank god no more driving to the city.

                                            The salt and pepper dish was close to be outstanding thin coating made with local squid (the small ones), wish the salt and pepper flavor was strong but I can live with minor thing.

                                            The noodles had bite and I did over hear where they got the noodles and will check the that store whenever I get to the city.

                                            My other chioce for good won ton is Joy Luck in San Mateo. But I will have to try Chef Wai too.

                                            The hand writing on the white was not clean and clear when I got a closer look today.

                                            1. re: yimster
                                              K K Mar 27, 2007 05:06 PM

                                              Went to Chef Wai for lunch today. Looks like there's no shui gow on the menu, only won ton noodle soup. Will write a more in depth review later, but basically it is identical to what higher end seafood sit down restaurants in Hong Kong would serve (at least from memory in the 80s), versus the more dirty and downscale won ton noodle shops or at the tea cafes in Hong Kong.

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