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Apr 10, 2010 10:29 PM

Great Dim Sum Experience at Tai Wu, Daly City

Our dim sum education got a big boost today at Tai Wu in Daly City. We were fortunate to be there with a friend of the owner who took charge of ordering and gave us a lot of tips on how to do dim sum right.

We enjoyed the following dishes (in approximate order)—

Chiu Chou Fried Soft Tofu
Tofu Skin Wrapped Seafood
Crab Meat Shiu Mai with Shrimp Roe
Dace Pate Fish Balls
Har Gow
Chiu Chow Fun Gow Dumpling
Special Chicken Salad with Preserved Egg and Jellyfish (not on menu)
Beef Meatballs
Shark Fin Dumpling
Roast Suckling Pig
Coated Deep Fried Turnip Cake Cubes
Braised Pig Intestines
Whole Lobster Meat Dumpling
Large Pea Sprouts in Supreme Broth with Wolfberry
Rice Noodles with Pork and Mushrooms in a Cap
Pan Fried Pork and Vegetable Buns
Sai Yung Egg Puffs
Portuguese Egg Tarts
Fried Milk

Our leader made sure the dishes came in the best order for eating. We had milder (mostly steamed) dishes first, saving the heavier fried dishes for later so the oil would not interfere with tasting the subtler flavors of the earlier dishes.

Most of the dishes were very good or excellent and none were total losers.

We have been using shiu mai and har gow as standards of comparison and Tai Wu does well on both counts. The shiu mai was very good. I liked the har gow better than what I’ve had recently at Koi Palace and Champagne Seafood, but less than Asian Pearl’s which I really liked a lot.

The Chiu Chow dumplings had a nice flavor and good crunch from the peanuts.

The quality of chicken in the special chicken salad was excellent—it was soft and tender and had very good flavor. The preserved eggs were very creamy and the various textures including the crispy noodles worked well together.

The beef meatballs seemed to get more flavorful with each bite. I took some home and the leftovers had the same quality, starting slowly with mild flavor that increased in intensity as I chewed. The shark’s fin dumplings were even more flavorful, starting with the very first bite.

The roast suckling pig pieces were thick and juicy. For the second straight time we have had suckling pig that was better than the much-praised version at Koi Palace. Perhaps we were just unlucky there—our scrawny KP pig must have been the runt of his litter.

Now we come to the real delight—the whole lobster meat dumpling dish. It was truly fine. Delicious tender juicy meat, both in the dumplings and in the lobster pieces cooked in batter.

The fried turnip cake cubes were as good as I can remember having, with lots of flavor from the bacon.

The rice noodles cap (named because the fried noodles are formed over top of the dish like a cap) was good solid comfort food.

The portuguese egg tarts were good, but not nearly as good as the outstanding ones at Champagne Seafood Restaurant. Those had a lighter, flakier crust that was made in thin layers—on the top edges you could see the separation between the almost filo-thin layers. The crust at Tai Wu was heavier, flat on top and a little soggy on bottom. The custard flavor at Champagne was also better.

The very soft and smooth fried milk pieces went well with the just-sweet-enough creamy coconut sauce.

The condiments and tea were as good as the food. Until recently mustard has been my preferred condiment for most of the dishes I don’t eat plain, but lately I am appreciating chile pepper sauce more. Mr. Fong makes his own pepper sauce and it may be the best I have had, though Koi Palace also has great pepper sauce.

The Gook Bo tea mix was darker than what we had at Koi Palace a couple of days ago presumably because of a higher ratio of Bo Lei (pu-erh) to Gook Fa (chrysanthemum). I preferred it-- it cleaned the tastes better between dishes and I like the stronger flavor.

The bottom line for me is that Tai Wu’s dim sum today was absolutely top notch. Since we were there with a friend of the owner we got some special dishes and attention, but it is hard to imagine that the quality of the regular menu items would not also be very good in the main room. We will return on our own to test that hypothesis and report back here.

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

Peninsula Asian Pearl
1671 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

Tai Wu/Mr. Fong
950 King Plz, Daly City, CA 94015

Champagne Seafood Restaurant
88 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

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  1. Each dish was a pleasure to taste; Tai Wu in Daly City is expanding my horizon. After the dim sum deliciousness, we wandered through the Manila Oriental Market to find a large can of Marca El Rey chorizo. note: parking spaces are tightly-packed.
    pix of Lobster, fried milk, roast suckling pig, and pea shoots with wolfberries:

    1. Every so often I look back at something I wrote and realize it was utter nonsense. This is the case in my description of the crust of Champagne's portuguese egg tarts. (Why don't they let you edit your stuff the next day?) As anyone who bakes knows, you can get very flaky crust without using different layers (though perhaps repeated rolling creates internal layers in your crust?). Just to make sure I'll have to go back soon to check out those tarts again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: charliemyboy

        The flakiness of the Portuguese Egg Tart is more pronounced today as a day-old tart. I'd prefer an eggier filling not quite as sweet - but, the DH says these are da bomb, he likes them just fine. (crust: tiny flakes of butter melt into flaky layers)
        Pix of Portuguese Egg Tart - Chiu Chou Fried Soft Tofu - Rice Noodles with Pork and Mushrooms in a Cap -Deep Fried Turnip Cake Cubes:

      2. Overall, this was the best dimsum I've had in the Bay Area. How much of that is attributable to the presence of a friend of the owner at our table, and how much to the skill of the chefs and servers will be determined by future visits. And I am already looking forward to the next visit.

        The Chiu Chow Fried Tofu was surprisingly good: very fresh, clean tasting, with a nice nutty flavor. Another revelation was the siu mai, usually a pedestrian staple, these were perfectly executed with just the right balance of meat, fat, shrimp, and removed from the steamer at just the right moment. It reminded me of how well something so ordinary can be done.

        Two more standards that are certainly among the best of their kind were the har gow and the chiu chow fun gow. The har gow skins were a shade thinner than elsewhere, and the filling was a toothsome ball of shrimp mince. The fun gow were remarkable for the skill with which the dumpling was seasoned, balancing the pungent, sweet, and savory.

        The special chicken salad was DH's favorite dish of the meal, and it was indeed special. This was not the usual excuse to serve leftover chicken. This chicken had been cooked for this dish: you could tell by the rectangles of crisp skin covering the top of the salad and the fresh, tender morsels of meat mixed with the jellyfish, vegetables, and century egg.

        The suckling pig ranks up there with the best I've had at Koi Palace, and I'm looking forward to having it again.

        [to be continued. . .]

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: pilinut

          pix: siu mai - har gow - chiu chow gun gow - chicken salad

          1. re: Cynsa

            dace pate fish balls - one of my favorite dishes, delicate texture and flavor

          2. re: pilinut

            For me, the star of the show was the lobster--especially the fried, salted-egg-coated bits. The tail meat had been used to make the dumplings, which were very good indeed: lightly seasoned, and just cooked through. (I'm pretty sure that they would have been smaller and more refined in HK, but Tai Wu's version would probably hold its own in Vancouver.)

            The beef meatballs, like the pea sprouts were a bit bland for my taste. Sharksfin dumplings, turnip cake squares, tripe--pretty much everything else, in fact, was definitely above average, in line with Koi Palace or Asian Pearl.

            I would definitely agree with Charlie that the Macanese egg tart at Champagne is much better, but the fried milk was a very good dessert: the outer batter was clean and crisp, and coconut added interest to the milk paste that made the condensed milk served on the side almost unnecessary.

            All told, DH and I are very glad--and grateful to our anonymous friend--that we tried Tai Wu, which until now has not been on our dimsum radar, but which now seems like a leading contender for our favorite dimsum haunt.

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

            Tai Wu Restaurant
            1080 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404

            Asian Pearl
            3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

            1. re: pilinut

              pix: beef meatballs - sharksfin dumplings - tripe/braised pig intestines - pan-fried pork and vegetable buns
              the tripe is tender and well-seasoned; the pan-fried pork and vegetable bun was delicious reheated the next day (I didn't appreciate it at the table, I was sated)

          3. A correction-- the sauce served with the fried milk was sweetened canned cream and didn't have coconut in it.

            Also when commenting on the scrawny suckling pig we had our first time at Koi Palace I forgot that we had a much better one our second time there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: charliemyboy

              In this version, coconut milk in the Portuguese custard tarts replaces the milk in dan tats