The Kitchen Millbrae - any recent updates/comments?
Curious if someone has dined at The Kitchen since June/July, as an online article in Chinese says they have remodeled recently (a large investment despite the economic downturn), and one of the chefs there named Au Kam Wor 歐錦和 is supposedly some master of abalone and seafood. Or did the remodel happen back in April?
Supposedly this chef dude has come up with a series of new dishes (or revival I should say), such as
鮑參翅肚盤菜 - abalone, sea cucumber, shark's fin (optional I think) New Territories style "poon choy". I saw a pic in some freebie local magazine at a tea shop earlier today and the abalone pieces are resting on top of some chicken, and I think I saw mussels and other things. The ad claims that this master chef is comparable to Dai Wing Wah in Hong Kong (a very very very famous restaurant for poon choy). It must be a bit fluffed up (and perhaps gimmicky)....but anyways this is ridiculous....$188 per dish.
Due to several negative comments about the Kitchen on this board I hadn’t intended to try it but when friends whose dim sum knowledge far exceeds mine suggested it for lunch yesterday I took the chance to form my own opinion.
Based on the few items we had I think The Kitchen may be worthy of another try by people who have given up on it. We paid less than $10 per person (pre-tip) and got a lot for the money.
This was my first experience of chicken feet with abalone sauce and I really enjoyed it. The flavor was more delicate than most chicken feet dishes and the meat was so soft it just melted off the bone. The feet were very small but we got a lot of them.
The fried taro puffs were better than what I had a few weeks ago at Asian Pearl but still not the best. I haven’t had a taro puff I thought was really great in a long time so maybe I am being too picky or have lost my taste for them.
The sesame mochi balls with red bean paste might have been better if they had been warmer when we got them. The BBQ pork bun was about average.
The Taro with Fish Porridge (on the Lunch Special menu) was one of the best bowls of jook I have had in a long time (though admittedly I don’t eat it often). The fish and taro flavors went well together and the bowl contained many pieces of very tender fish. At $8 for a very large bowl this was a steal.
We paid only $29.28 total before tip for a lot of food for three people.
3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804
279 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
Went to Hungto and the Kitchen for big dinners on back to back july nights. The consensus was that the quality of the ingredients was noticeably better at the Kitchen, but that the cooking had slipped a notch. BBQ items were pretty good, and there was a remarkably tasty fish clay pot dish, but stir fries were flabby.
Service was pushing us to order more food and more expensive items and then irritably tried to fit them all onto the lazy susan at the same time. The mini-fireball tableside when our server turned on a hot pot burner for 5 minutes and THEN proceeded to ignite it while ignoring our warnings may have got the meal off on the wrong foot.
My Cantonese mom and ancestors will hang their heads in shame, but I never got the big deal about abalone, sea cucumber, and shark's fin. All expensive ingredients. I eat them all, but don't think they are worth whatever premium the market supports.
That being said, I'm also interested in the status of The Kitchen, as I live close by and it's always in the mix of restaurants from which to pick for a dinner to treat the in-laws. The past couple of times I went (a year to two year ago), the quality and experience were sliding rapidly downhill.
Other than texture, I agree that sea cucumber and shark's fin don't have much to offer. And shark's fin has this environmental issue to deal with aside. But abalone tastes really wonderful. Good canned abalone tastes great on its own or in simple cooked dishes like porridge. Dried/Preserved abalone does taste like a million bucks when prepared by skilled chefs, in my humble opinion. ;-)
But I also agree than high-end Chinese restaurants charge way too much for these dishes.
Good to hear from my two Canto brothers.
I'm curious if Chef Au was part of the Culinary Wonderland, supposedly he is/was some chairman of a "world cooking" group, whatever that means.
I didn't know about Poon Choy (yes ignorant me) until Anthony Bourdain's episode in Hong Kong of No Reservations. But honestly I think taking a low key suburban style celebratory village style food item, and toppling it with high end dried seafood is a bit too much, especially in these harder times. I'm all for offering something unique that nobody else is really doing, but one can only take so many gimmicks. Or like that "yellow fur chicken and won ton" claypot that is doing ad rotation for Washington Bakery Chinatown, on KTSF Ch 8 (cable) weeknights....sounds good on paper as it looks remotely similar to the good Sichuan or Shanghainese restaurants in Hong Kong that use mature chicken, jing hua ham, pork bones to stew a beautiful claypot soup. I bet WB's version will be missing some jing hua ham and pork bones too. :-(
Washington Bakery & Restaurant
733 Washington St, San Francisco, CA