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Apr 28, 2007 01:16 PM

Wo Choy at Zone 88

With daytime temperatures of 87°F in Menlo Park and a warm Friday evening in San Francisco - the lure of hot pot at Zone 88 began to pale. Five of us matched a perfect Synchronicity for the wo choy menu for five. Let's give the food and the service five stars!
I defer to Karen and Nancy for menu references:
-soup with perfect broth, ham and bean sheet knots
-rainbow shrimp and calamari with pink, lavender, white, and yellow tapioca balls -boba- and corn
-chicken wings with red chili pods aka Chong Qing wings
-dry fried pig intestines with chinese celery
-dry fried crab
-fish fillets on napa cabbage
-greens with salted fish
and reluctant to part from good company, we progressed to Mitchell's for late night ice cream...

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  1. I started to get a little worried yesterday afternoon when it got reeaaallly warm in my part of the peninsula... I had been looking forward to the hot pot but it totally wasn't the right day - not a problem though because the menu at Zone 88 is so enticing. We started talking about what to order and then the Wo Choy menus came into focus!

    So delicious - even the somewhat odd looking rainbow shrimp and calamari! I really didn't think this was going to be very good - it looked like a lot of glop but it was a surprise - full of flavor and I love boba although I never thought of putting them into a dish like this!

    The chicken wings and dry fried intestines were every bit as tasty as they were the last time we ate there - both of these dishes are addictive to me in their crunch and flavor - plus they are presented so attractively. I didn't take a pix this time as we've posted shots of these dishes in the past.

    The fish fillets on napa cabbage were cooked perfectly (to my taste) and were very enjoyable. The greens were fresh-tasting delicious (I don't think any of us could really identify them - they looked a little like A-choy but I don' know for sure).

    The dry fry crab was sweet and very nice considering the time year, and again was served very nicely. The tea-smoked duck was succulent.... And the broth in that soup - just so good; I really liked the baby bamboo shoots and the tofu knots plus the addition of ham.... what's not to like! This was such a great dinner - I think it worked out to $18/pp. Can't wait to explore more of this menu (taro or kabocha with salted egg..., etc.)

    I know I didn't need the Mitchell's ice cream but it was so good (Kahlua mocha cream & Grasshopper pie).

    1. Nice, though I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of seafood with boba! How much was the wo choy (set menu)?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I don't know why I didn't take a picture of the rainbow seafood dish with the boba - it was just such a strange combination: shrimp, calamari, pink, lavendar, orange and white boba and whole kernel corn in a thick clear sauce - it was just so strange but surprisingly tasty with lots of texture from the boba and corn... I just can't remember how much it was but there were 5 of us and I think it was $18pp w/a nice tip.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          The Wo Choy menu was $68 and nicely fed 5 people. We changed one item (dry fried eel to dry fried pig intestines) with no change in price. The rainbow shrimp dish was, indeed, strange looking. The shrimp were cooked well, though, and were nice and firm. Because of the tapioca, though, the dish thickened as it cooled, and I needed to thin it a bit with some of the delicious broth from the soup.

          Re the rest of the dinner, I really liked the tea-smoked duck, the soup with tofu skin bowties and baby bamboo shoots (the ham added a lovely flavor to an already delicious broth,) the spicy marinated chicken wings, the greens and the delicious fish fillets. The pig intestines were better the last time I visited Zone 88. This time they weren't crispy hot; they were a bit tepid in temp. The crab was nice and sweet (unusually flavorful for this time of year,) but it could have been in the oil a bit less; the claw meat was somewhat overcooked. But the crispy crumbs and hot pepper bits that coated the crab were really tasty.

          All in all, it was a very good dinner and a great value. And I'm thrilled that there's finally a really good Chinese restaurant close to my home.

        2. What does "Wo Choy" mean? Is it any kind of set menu?

          Also, is the one at Zone 88 printed in English?

          When I google 'wo choy' this post is the second thing that appears. And Melanie's post from yesterday comes up first!

          Dave MP

          8 Replies
          1. re: Dave MP

            Here's an old thread (and check out the additional links for more tips on navigating) on the topic of wo choy, set family menus.
            Cool to see our non-Chinese chow friends using the term with ease for their dinner at Zone 88.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              We practice our chowing lessons well, chowhound posts in hand, to go forth and eat.

            2. re: Dave MP

              It's actually "he cai" (和菜) meaning something like "harmony meal" in Mandarin, and it did seem kind of jarring to see the Cantonese rendering it in the context of a Sichuan restaurant. It generally refers to any kind of set-price meal (for a group, not pp).

              1. re: Gary Soup

                If it makes you feel any better, the restaurant is owned by ethnic Chinese from Malaysia and employs chefs from Hong Kong and Sichuan, so perhaps not that inappropriate to use Cantonese. The items on the restaurant's menu are about half and half between the two regional cuisines plus some contemporary creations. The soup with ham and tofu skin knots described for this dinner sounds Shanghainese to me. For our chowdown there in December, we focused on the Sichuan side of the menu because I'd heard that it was stronger, but the menu is much more diverse than that.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I meant "jarring" in the sense of incongruous, like rainbow-colored boba on my plate would be. I've seen Z88's menu, (and even have a copy of it somewhere). I know it's not unlike most Chinese restaurants that cover all the bases (so if Aunt Flo wants her sesame chicken or Mongolian beef she gets it). The bai ye jie in soup is definitely a Shanghainese hallmark, and I hope they didn't mess it up as much as Shanghainese chefs mess up Sichuan dishes.

              2. re: Dave MP

                The wo choy menu at Zone 88 is printed on a separate sheet - in English. We noticed that the table next to us ordered the same set dinner as ours - and exchanged the dry fried eel with a plate of clams. The kitchen is accommodating and the service staff is helpful and friendly.
                We were early diners at 6:30 pm and had our choice of tables —by 8:30 pm the restaurant was full with a line at the door.

                1. re: Cynsa

                  It's good to hear that this restaurant seems to have found its audience. I'd been worried about it. Also noticed that it's been advertising on Chinese TV --- saw some pretty shots of stylized food on the screen while eating at another place.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Still like to do a banquet style chowdown here.