Diamond Harbor, Foster City
So disappointing, no flavor, no fun. Prices are high and quality is low.
The night didn't start well. Asked if they were honoring the restaurant.com coupon and was told that they only honor 2 a month and I should come back next month. After about 10 minutes and a call to the owner they graciously agreed to let me use the coupon (which is good for dinner anytime from time of purchase for one year so if they only plan to honor 2 a month there are going to be a lot of unhappy people)
Salt and Pepper Shrimp ($12)- not crisp, no salt, there were things that looked like garlic and chili's but tasted like mush :(
Crispy noodles with giant clam ($16) - on the approximately 10 small pieces of clam 2 tasted off and 1 was so overcooked I couldn't chew it (no it wasn't a piece of rubber). The noodles didn't taste fresh but they were crisp. There were some tasteless mushrooms and overcooked bok choy (which not only didn't have any taste but also didn't have any texture).
Clay pot of fresh oysters and roasted meat ($14) - well it was hot (temperature) but neither the fried tofu, oysters, meat, nor mushrooms had any flavor! If there had been any soy sauce on the table it might have helped (and I have NEVER even thought of using soy sauce at a Chinese restaurant before).
Well the plates were nice and the tablecloths were clean. Not only would I not order any of these dishes again, but I don't intend to go back. There are too many good Chinese restaurants in the area. Actually even if there weren't the food was so bad I wouldn't return.
Mr. Fongs was so much better (and cheaper - but I would have paid more to have the same flavorful dishes). I am so sad.
I joined a large group of friends for dim sum at Diamond Harbor last Sunday. We chose it for location more than anything else. I was worried from the mixed reviews so I came with medium expectations. But I came away pleased. I agree with foodnut that it’s about as good as HKFL at its peak. Nothing avant garde or unique though, and probably not as good as the best of Joy Luck (I haven’t tried The Kitchen or ZenP).
Our earliness (around 10:40 am) got us the first 2 tables between the windows and the kitchen, so items were always steaming hot (though I was busy chatting and didn’t always taste them hot). Even the items we caught on their way back to the kitchen seemed hot enough. No space for carts, just trays.
I tried the following, plus more I may be forgetting:
Har gao – skin broke a little too easily, while being a smidgen too thick. Filling was generous of large chunks of prawns, little filler or bamboo (which to me is a plus).
Siu mai – tasted fresh, less of pork, more of shrimp. Not “meaty-smelly” like they sometimes can be. No roe on top.
Chive Dumpling – top well browned and nicley crusty, with tender-chewy skin. Filling was not stringy (chopped well). Can’t remember if these had shrimp.
Egg custard bun – a first for me, I nodded to accept it since I like all things egg custardy, but it was the only weakness & the only thing not finished (by a group who don’t like to waste food). Filling was gritty and not very eggy. Now that I reread the menu on foodnut.com, I realize this was “egg yolk paste”, not egg custard. Still, a miss.
Shrimp Cheung Fan – seemed bit stingy on shrimp but the shrimp were larger than usual. Excellent texture – oozy tender chewiness. Sauce not overly sweet, very good. Beef cheung fan was gobbled up by our table before I noticed I hadn’t tried any.
Eggplant (fried then braised?) – good texture (soft but not mushy), non-gloppy brown sauce. Very hot.
Braised tofu skin – very saucy, not sure if it had filling since I got only skin. Light tasting in a good way.
Fried tofu skin – Excellent. Shatteringly crispy but not greasy, filled with shrimp (& maybe something else? can’t remember).
Gai Lan – they peel the stalk bottoms, which with my anal retentiveness I appreciated. Nitpick: sauce is on the side, and not enough since most stayed put when I tried to drizzle it out (though I like sauce more than the average person).
Pea Leaves, tofu skin & gingko nuts in broth – Pea leaves cooked right (not overcooked), and I think they picked out the larger stems, again another show of care towards veg prep. Broth was not supreme broth but a light vegetable broth. Gingko nuts were a bit bitter – heart not removed – but tender.
Lobster noodles (e-fu?) – a special of the day, $15 for a large platter. I took a leg joint that was mostly shell and a quarter of a claw, also mostly shell. Noodles were the slightly wavy flat rice noodle. Tender with bit of bounce. Sauce is lightly flavored with lobster flavor, and not gummy at all. I really wanted to lap up the platter.
Dan tat had lots and lots of very flaky, buttery (or maybe margarine-y) layers, but they were small so too much crust to filling ratio. Filling not overly sweet.
Sesame balls were great texture, non greasy, and I like that there’s not much filling.
Sweet potato mochi with black bean paste was too sweet for me but good texture (and pretty!).
Hubby liked the chicken feet ( with dark slightly sticky sauce that looked really good).
I didn’t try some carb-y things on our table but they looked like they were prepared well – chow fun was not greasy and I noticed a few charred edges. Lotus wrapped sticky rice looked non-gummy. Fried egg noodles looked very springy-bouncy but not crunchy hard, and very deeply flavored, but no one expressed interest so I let it pass a few times.
I looked out for shanghai soup dumplings (I know you’re not supposed to try these from a dim sum house, but still), but never saw them.
The remodel gave the place nicer oriental wooden chairs (but they are hard), new carpet, and more tanks, otherwise I don’t remember what else is different.
Lots of really yummy things in tanks, and all marked with prices (though with Chinese characters). So the abalone tank was marked $6 but I don’t know if it was $6 per abalone or what. Abalones were pretty small but tank was filled with hundreds of them. Gooseneck barnacles (or were they giant clam?) were huge. Lobsters were lively (the gigantic prawns too) but crabs not as much. Only a couple of the bass-looking fish. I think our lobster noodles might’ve been live lobster since that tank was marked “SPECIAL, something in characters, $15” but since I barely had any meat I couldn’t tell.
Service was attentive to tea re-fills (water re-fills not so much) and waiters always close by. We chose a pu erh-cuc combo tea which was nice and strong (dark). Tray ladies did not speak much English and when asked what’s inside in English, they’d either reply in Chinese or look to a nearby waiter to tell me in English (rather than opening the lid)
Total came to $20 per person including tip which seems low for the amount & quality (I didn’t see the bill so maybe we counted some of the small kids to split the bill).
It was mostly empty up until 10:55, but filled by around 11:30. Around 2 or 3 parties in line by the time we left at 12:30. Sorry no photos.
Thanks for taking the bullet and reporting back.
Does that coupon indicate they will honor only so many a month. I can't even imagine this is legal. That alone would take this off my to-try list.
Diamond Harbor Seafood Restaurant
949 Edgewater Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404
Yes - the way they handled the coupon thing was enough to turn me off but if the food had been wonderful (or even good) I might have reconsidered.
Restaurant.com coupons are sold each month (they only sell a certain number - b/c some indicate "sold out" each month and then reappear the next month) - BUT they are good for 1 year from date of purchase - so even if they only sold 2 each month there is no guarantee that they would be redeemed that month.
I just don't get this place - the menu is huge and I wondered how they could possibly do so many dishes well (when I asked about 2 preps of clams in different sauces "Malaysia" and something else I hadn't heard of I was told they were both "spicy...but not too spicy" - that didn't help me at all to understand what was different about them). Anyway my conclusion is that they don't do anything well :(
I'm still sad.....