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May 27, 2007 07:28 PM

Chinese/Asian splurge

Looking for recommendations for a Chinese or other Asian restaurant with nice atmosphere and good food. I understand that the Board favors authentic spots like R&G, Great Eastern, etc., and I enjoy those kind of places also. However, I am looking for a place with more atmosphere, but hopefully, still good food. Empress of Chna, Mandarin, Tommy Toys, Shanghai 1930? Any other suggestions? Thanks

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  1. I'm not quite sure you mean by atmosphere, but Koi Palace is a very attractive venue with a fish pond etc. None of the ones you mentioned are thought of for great cuisine, although reports (including the recent Michael Bauer review) indicate that Shanghai 1930 has greatly improved.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup

      We'll be staying near Union Sq with no car. How hard or easy of a trip is it to Koi Palace? Any idea of access via public transit or approx. cost and time for a cab ride?

      1. re: ramsay

        Koi Palace is difficult to get to by public transit and probably prohibitive by cab.
        Empress of China is 1/2 mile and not an unpleasant walk from Union Sq. Tommy Toys
        is 1 mile.Based on a quick net search the fare to 365 Gellert, Daly City for Koi Palace a distance of 11.5 miles is about $27. Bart to Daly City and a cab is beyond my capabilities without more data, size of party. Cab fare $2.85 first 1/5 mile, 45cents each additional.

        1. re: ramsay

          koi palace is at 365 gellert in daly city. you could take bart from powell to the daly city stop ($2.65 fare each way, about a 15 minute ride, very easy), and then the restaurant is about 3 miles away. i never take cabs, but i would be shocked if the ride was more than $10.

          i was at koi palace for dim sum yesterday and it was, as always, utterly delicious. i'm not sure what you mean by "atmosphere" though. one of my favorite things about koi palace is the din. it is a very large restaurant, and there is a koi pond, but the pond is not big (at least in terms of relative size of the entire restaurant), and there are only a few (a dozen?) tables near it. koi palace's atmosphere, at least during dim sum, is loud, crowded, energetic, and exciting. i love it. however, i have not been during dinner and i imagine it is much calmer at those times.

          perhaps to give you an idea of the caliber of koi palace, i am planning on celebrating my graduation from law school next year with a banquet at koi palace. it's that good.

          1. re: artemis

            In my opinion, Koi Palace is the best Chinese Restaurant in the Bay Area, and, for Cantonese/Hong Kong style cuisine, possibly in the entire US. It's the one I chose for my own retirement dinner, even though my tatstes run more to Shanghainese food and my co-workers were all coming from downtown San Francisco. It's definitely quieter at dinner time.

            According to my trip planner (Streets & Trips) it's 3.5 miles and 4 minutes (off-peak) from DC BART to Koi Palace. BART plus cab sounds like a reasonable option for getting there.

            1. re: Gary Soup

              I second/third that sentiment. It's beaten the pants off anything I've tried in Manhattan and comfortably outperformed the LA high end Cantonese restaurants. The quality and variety of seafood available is outstanding and always well prepared. Their meat dishes (peking duck, hand roasted crispy chicken, roast suckling pig, etc.) are also top notch. For the quality, it is actually very reasonably priced. There are "high end" dim sum restaurants in Southern California that charge much steeper rates for inferior cuisine.

              1. re: Porthos

                Yes. While I firmly believe Chinese food in Southern California is clearly better on average than that in Northern California, Koi Palace is the best on this side of the Canadian border.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  I know we agree on this but just to clarify that Koi Palace takes the title for best Cantonese/dim sum this side of Canada. If we're talking other regions of China or Taiwanese, you can't beat the sheer number, authenticity, and price of Southern California restaurants.

          2. re: ramsay

            How about Yank Sing? Rincon Center is unique and charming, and it's an easy walk from Union Square.

            1. re: Windy

              Yank Sing is dim sum only, and lunch only. If the ramsay is looking for dinner, he/she won't find it there.

        2. Perhaps Bong Su? It's Vietnamese, not Chinese. But definitely splurge-y.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hao Chr

            Bong Su's sister restaurant in Palo Alto, Tamarine, is also a wonderful Vietnamese spot with great decor. There's always Slanted Door, but that place is so overrated.

          2. Here's a counter opinion on Koi Palace.
            Not one that I share at all as you'll see in the exchange, but given your initial parameters, something to think about.

            1. Shanghai 1930 about three years ago was one of my least favorite meals I have had in the city. There is a new chef and I have since heard much advice about what to order there that would have helped.
              Tommy Toy's, by contrast, has been very good to me. I haven't seen much about it on the board and my experiences were both a few years ago, but I think they have a focused menu and just make those items well. I went to a party thrown for a friend of mine there by her mother, and assumed that everything was so delicious because it had been special ordered and I would miss that knowledge, but when I put together a work luncheon there, the experience was just as good.
              To me it definitely was not authentic and some things felt very Chinese/French fusion, but the atmosphere was lovely, the service was gracious and the food was very good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Meredith

                What do you recommend at Tommy Toy's. What is not so good? Hope you will do a separate post sometimes. Usually a post dedicated to a restaurant will draw response.