Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Sep 5, 2007 04:41 PM

Dim Sum in the Peninsula

Do we have to go up to the city every time we want dim sum?? We live near Palo Alto and would welcome any suggestions for dim sum in the area.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Take 101 North and exit Millbrae Avenue, make a left on Millbrae Ave, the right on El Camino. There's HK Flower Lounge, The Kitchen (supreme), Zen Peninsula (excellent with a lot of innovative variety), Fook Yuen (yuck), and further north in San Bruno is the new Asia Pearl (same conglomerate as The Kitchen). Stick with The Kitchen or Zen Pen, and you'll be fine.

    Or if you are willing to bear the wait and the crowds, for the near ultimate Peninsula experience, Koi Palace in Daly City.

    18 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Really? Koi Palace? Any tips on what to eat there, how to avoid crowds?


      1. re: piedsdesanges

        Almost everything is good at Koi Palace, just pick your favorites. The XLB there is excellent, even though that's normally a Northern Chinese/Shanghainese restaurant dish that I would not get at any regular dim sum restaurant.

        Avoiding crowds, uhmm...get there maybe 20 to 30 mins before opening and wait to be first seating? Weekday ideally, but even then they are super busy.

        1. re: piedsdesanges

          Best way to avoid crowds is to go on a weekday if possible after 1 pm. Last time I had a dim sum dish made of scallop/shrimp and I think it was shaped like fish, sorry I don't remember the name. That was delicious. I think it was on the list of "koi palace specialties". And the deep fried taro shaped like a football was good too. But other than that I think it is a bit overrated.

          1. re: burntcream

            I think that you have to put this into a little perspective. The normal stuff, for the most part, is nothing impressive. I think that JLP does a better job for the "staple" dishes, and I've eaten at both enough times to get a very consistent gauge of where each one stands.

            Where I think Koi Palace shines is in its more innovative and creative offerings, and it's these offerings that people come for because they are good and are simply not found anywhere else. After all, after a while, even the best Siu Mai or Har Gau is going to be a bore, leaving you hungry for more. I've eaten at JLP probably 50 times over the past couple years, and yes, as good as Master Wai's stuff is, I am getting bored of it now and Koi Palace (as well as Zen), as far as it is from me, offers that variety I desire.

          2. re: piedsdesanges

            Just call Koi Palace ahead and get a number on the phone.


            1. re: vincentlo

              Yeah, I get a number every time I go. But even with a number, I've waited 45 min to an hour on weekends. that is 45-1hr after we're supposed to be there.

              1. re: choctastic

                Sounds like getting there 20 to 30 mins before opening (or even earlier) or really really late might be worth trying. The caveat is either waiting for more food to come out, or certain things sell out and thus tiny selection towards the closing of lunch.

                1. re: choctastic

                  Koi Palace is probably most notorious for letting its best customers cut in line. Almost all Chinese restaurants do that to some degree, but Koi Palace is particularly egregious in this area. A Chinese friend gave me a hint, which I've never tried, of walking inside the restaurant and waiting there, giving the waiter the illusion that you are a regular customer but since a particular waiter won't know you're a friend of Manager A or Supervisor B or even Owner X, you will get special treatment from everyone working there.


              2. re: piedsdesanges

                No help with the crowd problem, but culled from many previous Koi Palace Chowhound reports ...

                the gigantic crab done 2 or 3 ways, the lobsters with the yam noodles, :suckling pig (lots of raves), hot pot, salt and pepper squid, sesame balls, shrimp & banana roll, shrimp in bean curd skin, taro/pork balls. duck ‘burrito’ (peking duck roll), bamboo pith dish, squab, rice noodle wrap with fish filet, XO fried rice noodle rolls, nilongbao, dan tat, hot and sour dumpling soup, cold abalone dish, bee’s nest taro puff, chive and shrimp dumpling, egg custard tarts, rice noodle roll stuffed with shrimp, coffee-flavored spare ribs, panfried chive dumpling, shark fin dumpling in soup, veggie bean curd roll, honey walnut prawns, chow fun, chicken with cashew nuts, dried scallop egg white fried rice (crab is moister), “Budda jumps wall”, chicken’s claw in black bean sauce, live baby abalone steamed with garlic, Japan-Fusion BBQ meat combo, king of shumai, whole crab Shanghai dumpings, lobster dumplings, honey baked sea bass, pork rib in a sweet dry rub, curry beef and tendons, fried tofu

                Misses: pan fried golden oysters, vegetarian clay pot, soy sauce abalone, live abalone sashimi-style, shark’s fin soup with chicken shreds

                Mixed opinions: Har gao, Peking duck

              3. re: K K

                I would ro add Joy Luck as a less crowded dim sum place. As good as it gets.

                The stand out dish there is Lo Bak Jar Leung, a rice roll with fried bread with tender turnip in the center. You need to order it from the kitchen. Have not found it anywhere else.

                Have tried to make it at home but not the same without freshly fried bread.

                If you go to Koi Palace after one it is less crowded but they may not have all the best special dishes available.

                1. re: yimster

                  one of the best place for dim sum is SSF Grand Palace we go there all the time and the food is 4 stars a must do for locals.

                  1. re: samsast

                    I never liked the Grand Palace in SSF and none of my fellow Cantonese coworkers like the place as well. Since the OP is coming from Palo Alto, it's not worth the extra drive. The places mentioned above in Millbrae are all good.

                    1. re: Cary

                      I can't remember much about Grand Palace in SSF for dim sum, but since it's the only game in that part of town, it's actually not bad.

                      Dinner is pretty good there, even to-go standard a la carte fare.

                  2. re: yimster

                    I'd love to see your "hidden menu" best list of this restaurant. Sounds like the best items are not on the menu (like Chef Wai).

                    I ordered standard a la carte dim sum items earlier this summer and wasn't terribly pleased with the quality myself. Decor is great, spacious, good service, and even a good solid toddler/infant high chair for the little ones. But that was about it.

                    1. re: yimster

                      I second Joy Luck. It's very consistent, I go there pretty frequently. I had the Lo Bak Jar Leung and ours was a bit greasy and mushy. I like plain Jar Leung better. The dinner specials are something to try. I've only had the Peking Duck $13.99 twice, and it is really good. Skin is thin and crispy, buns are standard quality. Also, we had some curry-ish mung bean noodles in clay pot with flanken style beef short ribs and it was awesome. Never had anything like it.

                    2. re: K K

                      Actually all of these places are better than anything in the City. With a couple of exceptions, San Francisco is not a destination location for dim sum.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        What are your SF picks for dim sum? I remember Yuet Wah on Clement used to be superb in the 90s. Is this no longer the case?

                        1. re: K K

                          Since I can't afford to dine at Yank Sing, I can't say I've had much dim sum in San Francisco recently. I guess I'd go with City View in Chinatown and South Sea Seafood Village on Irving.

                    3. ABC Seafood in Foster City deserves a mention. Not great for dinner, but quite good for your lunch and weekend dim sum desires. Best than most in the city, certainly, and worth a try with the others mentioned here --- although likely not a first pick ----

                      1. tags!

                        Koi Palace Restaurant
                        365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

                        Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                        51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                        1. I haven't been in ten years, but doesn't Ming's on Embarcadero at 101 (the Palo Alto Embarcadero, that is) do a dim sum lunch service?

                          Edit: also, China Village on Ralston in Belmont has a large dim sum menu, I believe for dinner as well. Their URL:

                          Haven't been, but have seen positive threads about it. That's only...ten miles from you?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: orezscu

                            Ming's does serve dim sum. Tried to get in on a Friday afternoon last month but the wait was too long. However, I wasn't especially disappointed because I noticed that there were hardly any Asians dining or waiting for a table, which to me is certainly a warning sign.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              Went there a couple of weeks ago to give it a shot given its proximity to our home, but it was mediocre (and overpriced) at best. There was one other table of Chinese people in the room, and they looked as sullen and unhappy as we were. (To be fair, there were a number of mixed race tables.) Our hearts went out to them, and we skedaddled our way out of there asap. With far better options just a 20 minute drive away, we won't be returning to Ming's.

                              Having said that, I do recognize that Ming's is a good place for some people, particularly those that are intimidated by big noisy, banquet-hall style places like Koi Palace (and by being surrounded so many Chinese people). The servers at Ming's speak English very well and by default (in fact, I couldn't even order in Cantonese because the waitresses were all Mandarin), they give you a fork and iced water right away without asking, and the decor is very tastefully done. Certainly doesn't feel like home to me, but I appreciate that a place like this opens up the world of dim sum to a population that might otherwise not want to eat it at all.

                              1. re: almondjello

                                This is so true of Ming's. Now everyone understands why Tian Sing and Yank Sing in the city can afford to charge so much for its certainly good though not stunningly amazing dum sum.


                                1. re: vincentlo

                                  The owners of Ming's are Mandarin speakers (not Cantonese as one might think). We ran into them one night at Happy Cafe (Wednesday). Of all the places they could have dinner, they chose not to dine in, and yet trek all the way from PA to SM for some hole in the wall (that's not quite cheap if you order everything off the Chinese only white board).

                          2. Second the Joy Luck. Joy Luck is very close to my home, I like it and a lot of folks who I would consider "in the know" make pilgramages there from their homes in the east bay.

                            Joy Luck Place San Mateo
                            88 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Cat Chow

                              We dine very regularly at the Cupertino Joy Luck for dim sum, which is also very consistent and high in quality (dinner is a whole different story). There are a few days when things so every so slightly down, but it's overall great, and does some things better than Koi and some things worse, so I'd hate to say that one is better than another but rather, each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

                              I do have a question though about the San Mateo JLP which we went to quite a few times back a couple years, and for us, the quality just didn't transfer over. Is it consistent with the Cupertino JLP now or still doing its own thing?

                              1. re: Rex914

                                I haven't tried the Cupertino JLP (since I live within walking distance of the San Mateo one :P) but I will say that the couple of times we had dinner there we were unimpressed...we only go to them if we want to have the dim sum.

                                1. re: Cat Chow

                                  How varied (& good) are the non shellfish items i.e, fish, beef, chicken, pork & veggies at JLP? Looks like a post above for Koi lists a bunch of these items but JLP is closer to me.

                                  I recently tried Great Eastern based on CH Chinatown recs (had visitors) & felt what few items I had were good. Few items because choice was limited for non shellfish eaters. If I recall correctly, Yank Sing which I used to frequent long ago had a large variety of other items including vegetarian. Great Eastern is the first dim sum I've had in a long time since I discovered my shellfish allergy 7 yrs. ago (just paranoid about contamination). Been to ABC Seafood, China Village & Ming's*...all before allergy & always felt Yank Sing was worth the drive. I used to love, love everything shrimp at dim sum places:-(
                                  *recall okay food, lousy service