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May 2, 2007 02:17 PM

The Kitchen Report

Quite a few write-ups already exists for The Kitchen in Millbrae, but most of them seem to focus on the set dinners or dim sum. Thus, when three friends and I visited for dinner last week (getting a 9pm reservation since we only called three hours earlier), we were uncertain what to order. As usual the place was packed, but we were able to be seated a few minutes after our reservation time (we arrived half an hour earlier but the restaurant was unable to seat us earlier). I apologize for not remembering the exact name for some of the dishes.

The $39/person set menu for two, and a $188 shark-fin and lobster set dinner for four, were analyzed but discarded. In the end we chose somewhat randomly from the menu, supplemented with suggestions from our waiter.

* Roast squab -- this was strongly recommended by our waiter, and we're glad we listed to him. Definitely the highlight of the night for me, with lovely crisp skin and tender, juicy meat.

* Roast duck appetizer -- the waiter said the squab was small (which it really wasn't that bad) and so we got the duck as well. While the dish was tasty, the skin was quite fatty and not very crispy.

* Sliced bean sheets with shredded chicken appetizer -- the sheets were much thicker and coarser than the picture on the menu. The dish was fine but nothing extraordinary.

* Simmered lobster in supreme brother -- this dish was on the set dinner for four, and was the most disappointing of the evening. The lobster was small and the preparation/flavor wasn't better than at a typical Chinese restaurant.

* Spinach and mushrooms in abalone sauce -- the most surprising dish we ordered. A large plate of perfectly braised spinach was heaped with at least five types of mushrooms (abalone, shitake, oyster, shimeji, etc.). It was delicious and one we'd definitely order again.

* Beef short ribs clay pot in XO sauce -- others at the table liked this dish more than I did. The beef (which looked like kalbi) was quite sweet and tender.

Overall we were pleased with our meal and would go back again. Total came to $27.50/pp including tax and tip. I had been once before (with more mixed results) but this was the first time with Chinese-speaking friends, and that seemed to help with the ordering.

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  1. It's such a hassle to get in here, we can always use a fresh report to decide whether it's worth the effort or not. Glad to hear it is, thanks much! Any comments on the service vs. Zen-Pen?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I agree it is a hassle to get in but I think it is worth it. I just posted again report on the Kitchen. The service is as good as Zen-Pen. The cost is a much less then Zen-Pen.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Excluding the pushy manager at ZP, I'd say the service was better at ZP. The staff at ZP often came by to refill our water, give us new plates, etc. At The Kitchen we often had to flag the waitstaff (often unsuccessfully).

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Heh to me as a night owl it's a huge bonus that The Kitchen opens late.