Koi Palace, So authentic we were clueless!!
We went to Yank Sing a few weeks ago and it was my first foray into Dim Sum. I've had many of the dishes as appetizers at Chinese restaurants but I had never been to this kind of format before. "I'm hooked," I thought.
After reading on this board that Koi Palace is considered the best and most authentic, I convinced my family to stop there for lunch on the way home from the airport. The place was mobbed (Fri. at 1pm) and we were the only all Caucasian table in the place. I was jazzed.
When we were finally seated, I looked at the menu and the carts and realized that almost nothing looked familiar. Those who waited on us did not speak much English so were unable to do more than point to help us.
We tried lots of new things but I don't think we made the best choices. Nothing was what we expected. It would be great to go back with some valuable advise.
So, we would love to hear those with experience chime in......preferably with suggestions that are not deep fried.(unless it's a truly must have).
I see Koi Palace regularly mentioned on this board as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area. I have eaten both dinner and dim sum there and do not understand the allure. The quality of the food is good. The portions somewhat small, in my opinion. This fare is available at dozens of other less heralded Chinese restaurants in the area, with less hassle and less cost.
A recent visit for dim sum began with more than an hour wait. The dining room was so hectic that the staff had been unable to properly clean our table, under which was piled not bits, but almost entire plates of food.
On more than a few occasions the servers only begrudgingly removed the steamer lids to allow us to see the contents, and seemed generally sullen.
I did not find the array or quality of dim sum items any greater than many other places.
Am I crazy to dis this place, or am I the first to say the emperor has no clothes?
Koi Palace has had service problems. One of the most common complaints I have heard is that unless you order the high end dishes, you are generally ignored. So I am not surprised at your experience. However, when it comes to high end Cantonese style seafood, Koi has no peers in the bay area. So if you are going for the shark fin/abalone/steamed cod/king crab kind of dinner, this is the place, bar none.
Koi Palace actually has its dim sum menu online.
You could figure out what you want, before you go again. When you eat dim sum, remember to be patient. You can try a lot of things over time.
From your notes, if you like siu mai, you'll probably like dumplings. There are many different fillings like pork, shrimp, even vegetarian. Based on the ribs, if you don't like fatty meats or skin, you might be careful with the some dishes like organs, even chicken feet (which I also love). I don't like the buns either, they're great for a snack but not for dim sum. There are a lot of noodle dishes. I do like the fried dishes myself, especially squid. Some of the dishes are just smaller servings of regular dishes.
Many people order larger side dishes for filler or to complement the smaller dishes - larger noodle dishes like chow fun or plates of chinese greens like yu-choi.
Koi Palace has better tea than most places, so it is worth spending a few bucks for a tea you really enjoy.
We had what we thought would be mini BBQ pork buns but they turned out to have more like a pot sticker filling. They were just OK.
We order the Stir Fried Manila Clams in wine sauce (there was a picture of them on the menu). This was our best dish.
We wanted some kind of pork ribs and the waiter suggested (by pointing) the Pork Rib in Black Bean sauce. These arrived as small popcorn sized pieces that were mostly bone and skin (very fatty). I would not recommend those.
The Shrimp Shiu Mai was good.
There was a fried squid that came with a spicy dipping sauce that was yummy.
It wasn't a bad meal at all but by the looks of the exciting plates on other tables, we could tell that we needed some advise in our choices for next time. Most of the things we saw around the room did not come by us on a cart so we assumed that those people knew what to choose from the menu.
If you want a visual "field manual" to the most popular dim sum items that might be rolling by you on carts, there's a handy little pocket guide published by Chronicle Books and available at many bookstores:
There's also a useful FREE on-line guide put out by the Hong Kong government:
One deep fried dim sum item which I feel is a must (at least it's my favorite common item) is the taro "croquette" (wu gok).
re: Gary Soup
i have this book (gag gift). it has pictures of (in order of appearance):
STEAMED: har gow, siu mai, chicken feet, beef ball, chicken meat roll, duck feet roll, beef tripe, spareribs, glutinous rice with chiken, chao zhou dumpling, fish ball, squid, giant dumpling, "shark fin" dumpling, bean curd roll, beef stomach, shrimp rice (noodle) roll, beef rice (noodle) roll, bbq pork rick (noodle) roll, brown sugar sponge cake, egg custard bun, lotus seed paste bun, bbq pork bun, chicken bun,
DEEP FRIED: spring roll, sesame ball, deep fried wonton, deep fried squid, meat filled ball, taro ball,
PAN FRIED: white turnip cake, taro cake, water chestnut cake, (shrimp) stuffed peppers, chive dumplings, dried shrimp rice rolls,
CONGEE: preserved duck egg, boat, ground beef, fish, dried fish peanut, pig's blood,
DESSERT: black sesame roll, coconut milk gelatin, black sesame soup, egg custard tart, tofu pudding, mango pudding
the book is a good start, but kp offers far more than the book has descriptions for. like the duck rolls. or the sai yo (donuts), or the scallops. or the giant tofu blocks. i suggest just ordering what looks good to you!