Anyone tried Gourmet Village (Chinese) in Millbrae?
Saturday evening I walked past Gourmet Village on Broadway in Millbrae, one or two doors from Shanghai Noodle Shop, and noticed it was filled. There were a few unusual things on the otherwise generic Chinese, vaguely Cantonese menu, e.g. grilled pork intestines (with photo!), clay pot with goose webs, etc. I don't know how long the restaurant has been there. Has anyone tried it?
OK I did a little research on the origin of the Chinese name of Gourmet Village which may clue us into the eclectic and interesting offerings that may be misunderstood by many.
魚米之鄉 "Yue Mai Zi Heung in Cantonese" - basically meaning "home of fish and rice" refers to a region in the countryside with fertile soil, optimal climate (for agriculture), sufficient rainfall, and is basically ideal for fish farms. It is also synonymous with good countrystyle cooking, where the food tastes especially good due to the ingredients coming straight off the local farms (be it livestock or plant life). At the same time, certain areas in Southern China are also optimal for rice crops as well as rice related products (e.g. rice wine). There are several regions in China supposedly called "home of fish and rice", and certain areas of Guangzhou, particularly the suburb of Shun Tak 順德 which has heavy influences in regional Cantonese (also found in Macau). Coincidentally, Zhongsan (named after Dr Sun Yat Sen) 中山
is also synonymous with "魚米之鄉".
So Gourmet Village offers regional Cantonese / Southern Chinese, not typically from Hong Kong, but Guangzhou/Zhongshan/Shun Tak. Unfortunately I do not know enough to ID what is Zhongsan cuisine or Shun Tak on GV's menu, but at least the style of food is more or less identified.
Those who are interested can tune into "Those Were the Tastes", KTSF (Comcast Ch 8) Saturdays 5 pm to 6 pm, where yesterday they began the segment of regional Cantonese (history, culture, food) and spoke about Zhongsan, as well as introducing some local delicacies (including deep fried 13 day old squab). Next week's maybe the area around the Pearl River Delta, Foshan or Shun Tak. Unfortunately no English subtitles, but the footage is good enough to watch.
Pearl River Restaurant
2281 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125
465 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030
Mom and I gave Goumet Village in Millbrae a try recently for lunch. Following KK around on his eating path has been a good chowing strategy. We picked two items that were unique here. Here’s our lunch order ticket.
My mother’s parents, originally from the area near Macau, spoke Lung Du dialect (as well as some others), so I wanted to try this dry-fried “Lung Du-style chow fun”.
This turned out to be quite soulful with stir-fried strips of fish cake, dried prawns, and preserved meats, as well as Chinese celery, onions, and peppers. No bean sprouts, yay! Before ordering, I’d asked our waiter what was in it. Among other things, he’d said, “Lop cheong.” However, the preserved meat in this was a type of lop cheong I’ve not run across before. These were more like thin strips of cured pork, but they were curled as if they’d been molded in a casing. The dried prawns were the large type, partially rehydrated, and tasted like a chewy, briny shrimp jerky. This dish was quite well executed with a minimum of oil and all the salty proteins contributed a boatload of umami.
At lunch time, Gourmet Village offers a selection of combinations steamed over rice in claypot. We were warned that our order of black olives with pork spareribs would take 25 minutes, but it turned out to be less. I was surprised that this had salty black beans as well the sweet-salty cured Chinese olives. And, a small dish of seasoned soy sauce was provided to pour over the rice. Quite tasty, but this dish provided more than our salt quota for the day. Interesting, however, I think I’d choose another of the many combinations next time.
Our lunch orders came with complimentary long-boiled house soup. Oddly, one bowlful came out alone, and we assumed that only the claypot was soup-worthy on the lunch deal. This serving was quite greasy and full of bones and long-boiled meat with just a small amount of liquid. But then after the two main dishes came out, a waiter stopped by with another serving of soup. This tasted the same and probably came from the same pot, but it was well skimmed of grease and was just cloudy broth.
Portions were ample and we had more than enough to feed another person. I liked it more than my mother did, as she wasn’t fond of the dish with olives. Cooking skill is solid here. As with other Chinese restaurants, the challenge is to sift through the menu and find the gems. I’ll be interested in returning to try some of the other dishes not seen elsewhere.
465 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030
re: Melanie Wong
Glad you like it. The more I think about it, this place might actually be representing Macau style Chinese/Maca Cantonese/Shun Tak style more so than The Kitchen and Asian Pearl. The menu is still a bit over the map in some areas, but at least it's pretty solid execution wise, despite the seemingly claustrophobic interior when there are people waiting for tables.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about Yum's in Fremont sometime...
re: Melanie Wong
At the risk of veering off-thread, for a Friday night last SFO supper after a whirlwind itinerary--what would be the the best Millbrae and environs' choice(s)? (We are staying at an airport hotel in the area, and after supper will return the car to Enterprise.) As ever--thanks in advance.
Yeah this place replaces the former Beijing/Northern restaurant that's adjacent to Shanghai Dumpling King/Shop. It's maybe a very slight notch cheaper or almost similar in price to The Kitchen, and it is said that GV is run and operated with former The Kitchen staff and chefs, hence a very similar looking menu (e.g. Macau style fried pork hock).
It's mostly Cantonese based food with a slant of Shun Tak regional Cantonese. The wall specials had something wacky like crocodile when I last went (didn't pay much attention at the time to what else was posted on the wall in Chinese), but there is a specials menu entirely with pictures of what I would call rather unusual almost rustic like combinations, at least it's not the common tried and true Cantonese that everyone else has been doing. That part of the menu was way more interesting than the regular one.
GV also offers congee, which I find to be a tad bit watery tasting and not as good as say, Fat Wong's Kitchen further north on El Camino Real (where FW specializes in that), but GV's salted pork bone congee was otherwise not bad to have as an option to rice.
We also had:
Fish paste with stir fried milk and egg white - this is not the exact name of the dish, but it was basically stir fried egg whites with milk that came out like a smooth curd or custard, served on top of a bed of lightly fried crispies (like a noodle of some sort but softer/crunchier), along with a unique tasting oblong shaped fish ball (made with fish paste). I want to say this was an attempt at Cantonese style leng yu (not sure what the English name of that would be), and it was very tasty. A splash of white pepper and this dish was just perfect and light. Pleasant on the palette and stomach.
Daikon fish soup with fish paste - the English name on the printout mentioned spicy, but the soup was not spicy at all. It was mostly chopped big slices of daikon and the same fish balls (oblong shaped made with fish paste) we had earlier, no other veg per the menu picture. If this was ordered by itself, it would have been great (although the milk egg white dish is superior). The clams version (instead of fish) would have been a more interesting prep, perhaps next time. Quite a few cloves of stir fried garlic at the bottom, giving the soup a little kick. Very decent otherwise.
The restaurant space is on the small side, and so lots of tables and chairs are put very close together.
Overall, a decent restaurant, although the flavors may not be familiar to most.
I had a quick lunch with my mom a couple of weeks ago. They have a lobster noodle special, tasty, but there were hardly any noodles. I think they made two orders in one pot and divided it up with ours having the lesser amount of noodles. Nothing we had other than that really stood out, so I'd say it's not outstanding, but not horrible. Some of the items seem like less expensive versions of The Kitchen, for example the goose web clay pot, but we didn't try that. Let's hope more people try it since I'm most likely not to return soon.