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More Dim Sum at Koi Palace, Daly City

Our dim sum crawl returned today to Koi Palace, six strong and ready for the famed crab dumplings with whole crab we missed last time ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695577 ).

Our dishes included—

#157. Roasted Suckling Pig
#145. Pickled Veggie and Duck Gizzards
#148. Vegetarian Goose (Bean Curd Roulette
)#323. Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce
#341. Shrimp Dumpling (har gow)
#346. Shrimp in Crispy Tofu Wrap
#347. Crispy Fried Dough Stuffed Rice Roll
#371. Chi Chou Fried Taro Cake
#375. Special Aged Wine Poached Manila Clams
#376. Coffee Glazed Pork Sparerib
#378. Ginko with Pea Tendrils
#436. Crab Meat filled Dumpling w/ Whole Crab
#442. Black Sesame Glutinous Ball
#445. Crisp Egg Custard Tart
#461. Egg Yolk Lava Bun
#464. Sugar Egg Puff
We also had a boiled chicken dish but I’m not sure which menu # (if any) it was.

With an 18 per cent tip we paid $29 per person for a whole lot of very good food.

So that I don’t monopolize the early conversation as much as I have in my past dim sum posts I’ll limit myself to comments on a couple of dishes until others have had a chance to post, then add more later.

I enjoyed the crispiness and full flavor of the shrimp in crispy tofu wrap—I would definitely get this one again.

The chicken feet were soft and tender with a little something extra in the spicing that pleased me. Maybe it was just more star anise than is used elsewhere.

The crisp egg custard tart was the best of its kind I have had in a long time—very light filling with great flavor and light crust. I might still prefer the Portuguese style we had at Champagne a few weeks ago due to the brûlée technique but I put that item in a different category.

The crab was the main event for me. More on this later.

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

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  1. the groaning board was overflowing with dishes and happy food talk
    Crab xlb - 436. Spectacular and well worth the $32 for the xlb and whole fried crab - moist and flavorful. It's finger-lickin' goodness and the moist towelettes were appreciated.
    Shrimp in Crispy Tofu Wrap - 346. This one pleases with the sweetness of the shrimp and the comfort-food tofu skin wrap
    Dan Tat - 445. Tiny one-bite gems with flaky crust
    Chicken in hot broth with green onion sauce was lackluster
    Tea Service: Pu-erh with Chrysathemum (gok bo)

    Note: service was excellent, attentive, and helpful

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cynsa

      I'm drooling over that crab picture!

    2. apologies for the out-of-focus pix.
      Chicken feet - 323, deliciously tender and meaty
      Crispy Fried Dough Stuffed Rice Roll - 347. It's fried and wrapped in steamed rice skin, what's not to love?
      Vegetarian Goose - 148. light and refreshing with mushrooms
      Har Gow - 341. this led to the conundrum of selecting the same dishes at each dim sum restaurant for comparison - or, to order each restaurant's specialties... or, both

      1. Roasted Suckling Pig -157. Crispy porky.
        Pickled Veggie and Duck Gizzards -145. Ah, gizzards, wonderfully sweet and tender in texture
        Special Aged Wine Poached Manila Clams -375. I ♥ clams. These were flavor-explosions.
        Ginko with Pea Tendrils -378 ginko nuts were nestled and floaters in the pea shoots & broth

        1. Black Sesame Glutinous Ball -442 - this satisfies my non-sweet tooth mysteriously
          Egg Yolk Lava Bun -461- warm and oozing sweetness - I really like these.
          Sugar Egg Puff -464 - Must Eat Hot Only -

          11 Replies
          1. re: Cynsa

            Thank you to Derek for the Dragon Beard Candy - it was my first taste of this spun sugar delight filled with peanut and sesame. I ♥ DBC

            1. re: Cynsa

              It is made from maltose a form of wheat sugar I believe. We had it made at a chowdown at Asian Pearl in Millabare a few years ago. I was able to quiz the chef on what sugar he use. It looked so easy but I am sure it is not.

              Is there still a stand at the entrance of Koi Palace?

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

              1. re: yimster

                There was a chef at the entry making DBC a couple of months ago on a weekend.

                It's delicious. The only trouble with the stuff is you have to eat it all up at once - since it does not survive long.

                1. re: Thomas Nash

                  It keeps longer if it is kept at room temperature. I have had tasting fairly fresh for about a week as long as it is not refrigerated.

                  Someday I will have to try making someday. Just kidding but is fun to think about. How much for an order?

                  1. re: yimster

                    It was expensive. My memory is fuzzy. I think there were 10 in the box and it may have been as much as $10, but maybe less.

                    I thought it melted in the mouth and was very light if you get a box that you see the chef just filled up. If it has been sitting around, I don't know. Guess I will have to try it in HK next time.

                    Another demonstration of how incredibly diverse the Chinese kitchen can be.

              2. re: Cynsa

                The dragon beard candy at Koi Palace is awful - I don't know why they still sell it. Good dragon beard candy in the simplest form should melt in your mouth like cotton candy, but the ones from Koi Palace are hard, chewy, and extremely dry.

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

                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                  where can I taste good DBC that "melts in the mouth like cotton candy"? if I like the hard chewy dry candy, the melt-in-the-mouth DBC will be heavenly!

                  1. re: Cynsa

                    It is hard to find even in Hong Kong. One trip I amused myself by asking people to point me in the direction of traditional makers of dragon's beard candy and ended up finding two--one in a mall on the island and the other in the middle of the sex toy stalls in the temple night market. The stuff in China tends to be harder and drier and I wonder if it is a stylistic thing.

                    This stuff is pretty good, if outrageously expensive and commercially packaged. You can usually find them at the airport in HK:

                    1. re: sfbing

                      I saw freshly made DBC for sale at the National Center for Traditional Arts in Eastern Taiwan (Yi-Lan county), about 2 hours drive east of Taipei city.


                      There is a block of pedestrian street walking where the buildings are replicated to look like 50 to 80 years ago, with shops selling really old school snacks, included round molasses sandwiched wheat cracker lollipops, and a shop selling dragon beard candy (with a person making it on site).

                      I didn't try it, but it looked more interesting visually than for me wanting to try it. In terms of awe and result, I get better mileage with hand pulled noodles.

                      1. re: sfbing

                        Yep, the link provided by sfbing points to the ones I usually get in HK when I'm craving this candy. I know it's available at the airport (and I believe other brands are available as well) but I usually get them from the food courts next to Citysuper, an upscale supermarket.

                        Anyway, this stuff is definitely expensive, but it is pretty good and does melt in your mouth. Not sure about the ones that you'd get online, but the ones I get from the food courts are pretty good and significantly better than what they churn out at Koi Palace.

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

                      2. re: Cynsa

                        Seoul airport in the transit area.

                2. Chi Chou Fried Taro Cake -371. I love taro but this flavor was fishy and a disappointment.
                  Coffee Glazed Pork Sparerib -376. I would only order these for newbies at the table for first tastes; the novelty has worn off and I find it cloyingly annoying.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Cynsa

                    I REALLY enjoyed our meal here..the one 'clunker" for me was also the Chi Chou Taro cake...I did enjoy my one 'coffee rib' but more than one would be difficult...We had "Jah Dahn" (egg bombs), but here they call them "Sai Youn" (these were egg puffs..similar but better than a cruller...these were warm fried dough.....)

                    1. re: Cynsa

                      As the recipient of the fried taro cake leftovers, I realized when I brought them out for Bob's snack that the garnish including little dried shrimp - the answer to the fishy taste note...

                      1. re: RWCFoodie

                        and the final verdict is? worthy of a second bite? they looked delicious...

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          After a brief reheating/crisping, we thought they were delicious and we would happily eat them again (but that's just us).

                          Also, my batch of chicken skin chiccharones from LechGo must have been a fresher batch; also reheated, they were a delight.

                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                            I liked the taro cake, too, but I grew up with dried shrimp, something that is probably an acquired taste. I thought the taro cake seemed like a variation on the more common radish version (lo bak ko), and was a nice change.

                            The chicken skin chicharon really should be served warm. I can't think of an animal fat that I enjoy at room temperature. (Actually, it's fine at room temp in the tropics.)

                    2. Thanks for starting the posts charliemyboy - and for keeping such great records of our feast! Cynsa, thanks for taking the photos - ah, that crab!!!

                      Totally enjoyable dim sum offerings, but as you said "the crab was the main event for me" - likewise, I would go back just for #436. Have had this style of crab many times but this was the juiciest, most succulent ever. Loved the dumplings!

                      Would also re-order the suckling pig, the coffee ribs, the gizzards and the chicken feet (some of the largest I've seen in a long time, and very well cooked).

                      The pea tendrils in broth with ginko nuts was very subtle - not really a great dish to try to share - the pea shoots themselves were very tender - one of most favorite greens. The chicken broth was infused with the delicate pea shoot flavor. Kind of got lost in our large meal.

                      Don't know what's up with the har gow - wrappers totally fell apart. Large, whole shrimp filling. Wouldn't order again and if this was the only dish I'd ordered, I'd be very disappointed.

                      1. A huge thank you to both charliemyboy and cynsa for doing the hard work so well and so graciously. It seems that six can eat exponentially more than three. Three is a good number of people for a leisurely, chatty lunch. but six definitely cover more of the menu.

                        While I do like being able to order by ticking items off a menu, one doesn't have the luxury of slowly savoring one's choices. Dishes tend to come all at once and it's just not possible to eat them all while they are fresh and hot. This is what happened with the Egg Yolk Lava Bun, which had a generous ratio of rich, salty-sweet filling to bread, as well as the black sesame ball, as well as the clams and taro cake.

                        The suckling pig was better than the last time--crisper skin--but not as good as I remembered from previous years. And the hargow were--again--a weak point in an overall deliciousl lunch.

                        1. Having heard so much about the great crab XLB at Koi Palace I eagerly contemplated our return to try the vaunted delicacy. Would it live up to the hype, or were my expectations so high that no mere earthly dish could satisfy them?

                          I tried to lower my expectations by telling myself that however good it might be, the Koi Palace version almost certainly would not give me the satisfaction I got from my first crab XLB at Din Tai Fung in Beijing a few years ago. On that occasion I entered the restaurant with stomach problems, intending to eat only plain jook which had settled my stomach nicely on a previous occasion of distress. My friends ordered crab and pork XLB and I took a crab one just to get a taste. Then I took another, and another. We had to order more. It was incredibly good, full of exquisitely flavorful crab and lots of juice, with very thin tight skins that were bursting with liquid. Great as the crab was, the pork XLB was even better. To my surprise, far from paying a price for my lack of self-control, my stomach was soothed by the experience and didn’t complain again for the rest of the trip.

                          When the day for the Koi Palace crab arrived I was feeling rather blasé about it. But even had my expectations remained at their original fever pitch I don’t think I would have been disappointed. The skins were thin, the filling had excellent flavor and the way they were served in small metal cups avoided the dreaded torn XLB problem—not a drop of precious liquid was lost.

                          The crab legs were also great-- flavorful and moist. The sauce provided complemented the crab nicely.

                          The XLB was not as full of juice as the Din Tai Fung version and perhaps the flavor was not quite equal but I’m not complaining. Koi Palace’s crab is excellent and I can enjoy KP without getting on an airplane.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: charliemyboy

                            So glad to hear that this version was pleasing to you, especially following on the heels of DTF in Beijing... I'm ready to go back for more - soon! :-)

                          2. A few more impressions--

                            I often find gizzards to be tough or rubbery but the gizzards in #145 had great texture. What I really liked about this dish was the pleasant refreshing shock of biting into the pickled veggies in between the bites of gizzard.

                            The manila clams were very satisfying with a hearty sauce and plentiful onions.

                            The crispy fried dough stuffed rice roll was mildly pleasant but I see no reason to fill up my limited quota of stomach room when there are so many more flavorful options available. Anyway I prefer the ones at Champagne.

                            Last time my piece of the Coffee Glazed Pork Sparerib was mostly fat, this time I got plenty of meat but it was a bit tough and the sauce didn’t penetrate. When you get a bite with a good mix of some soft fat and some meat to balance the intense coffee and sweetness it can be quite good. As others have noted, it’s a novelty whose charm diminishes quickly.

                            Since discovering Häagen-Dazs black sesame ice cream in Japan (why don’t they sell it here?) I have been a fan of all things with black sesame, and the black sesame glutinous ball didn’t let me down— the intense filling mixed nicely with the glutinous paste.

                            The tea was good but I didn't enjoy it as much as the straight pu-erh tea we had last time. I understand that the Gook Bo tea, a combination of pu-erh tea (Bo Lei in Cantonese) with crysanthemum tea (Gook Fa) is supposed to balance the strong pu-erh with some lightness, but I didn't think it did as good a job of cleaning the palate after each dish to prepare me for the next dish. Maybe I just prefer the stronger tea flavor.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: charliemyboy

                              Meet us at Marco Polo for the black sesame ice cream!
                              Will's fave is the Durian; mine is always a scoop of sour sop + jackfruit.

                              Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream
                              1447 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                            2. I honestly have not been back to Koi Palace for dim sum since summer 2007. So I am wondering if the MSG aftereffects are still inherent from the food, and how strong is it now? It wasn't too bad in 2007 but it was certainly there.

                              ABC Foster City's MSG usage is not too bad, but you can definitely feel it after eating the beef tripe and turnip dish and maybe some of the others. The not so good dim sum places will have it worse.

                              Although Asian Pearl's aftereffects are virtually nil for me, which is a huge plus.

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

                              Asian Pearl
                              3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: K K

                                I'm very sensitive to msg and have to say that the amount they use at Koi Palace can only be described as legendary. Granted I don't eat much dim sum in the bay area and only go to Koi Palace when I do, but I've never been able to finish a meal there without being stunned by how much msg they put into the food.

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

                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                  I'm curious how Elite in SoCal stacks up in MSG usage wise (Elite is supposedly the SoCal version of Koi Palace, some claim it is better, then again every dim sum joint in SoCal uses metal steamers as bamboo steamers are outlawed by the health dept down there ...but to each their own). You should give one of the Asian Pearl locations a try, at least the one in Millbrae I thought the flavors were more down to earth, and I certainly did not run into MSG problems that I would at other places.

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

                                  Asian Pearl
                                  3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804