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Jul 1, 2011 10:18 PM

Martin Yan/Koi Palace Alliance

This is more for the out of towners like myself rather than Bay Area residents who are probably aware of this. Day before yesterday I was at the Westfield San Francisco Center when I noticed the wallboards touting the upcoming opening of Martin Yan's Chinese restaurant there called M.Y. China. At the time I was not terribly impressed based on Yan's lack of success at the restaurant end of the business. You'd think with his culinary brand he'd have a string of high profile restaurants, but such has not been the case. I remember many years ago driving around the Peninsula somewhere looking in vain for his restaurant, finally realizing it had gone out of business. Then he opened up his Yan Can fast food "chain". For some reason, the closest branch to me was in, of all places, Oxnard. And by the time I got there, it too was out of business. (I did finally make it to the Santa Clara branch.) But then I read in yesterday's newspaper that the new restaurant will be run by the gang from Koi Palace. Seems like that might be a game changer, and I'm eagerly awaiting next year's opening.

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

Yan Can
3927 Rivermark Plz, Santa Clara, CA 95054

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  1. "We had a quick update from pioneering TV chef Martin Yan last week regarding his noodle house project on the fourth floor of the Westfield. Now via the Chron we get word of a name change. Instead of Martin Yan's Noodle Revolution, he's going with M.Y. China, and he's teamed up with Willy and Ronny Ng of Koi Palace to help make it all happen. Also, he's now saying February rather than January, for a projected opening date. [Chron, Earlier]"

    "We've been curious, ever since we first heard the news about Martin Yan's Noodle Revolution, about where and when it would be coming to the fourth floor of the Westfield Centre. Grub Street now has some answers. The first word was that the famed PBS chef's new project was slated for a mid-2011 opening. We spoke to Yan the other evening at a French Culinary Institute event and he's now saying January 2012. The spot it's moving into is the now shuttered Cocola Bakery space, next door to Straits. And, yes, there will be hand-pulled noodles. We look forward to finding out if it's still true that Yan Can Cook. [Grub Street, Earlier]"

    sfgate: "They'll (KP guys) will run the day-to-day operations at M.Y. China, but unlike at Koi Palace, the dim sum menu will be short, roughly 10 to 15 dishes. There will be about 35 items on the menu in total, ranging from the expected (Peking duck) to luxurious (soup dumplings with black truffles, foie gras noodle rolls) to the exhibitionist: special noodle chefs will hand-pull noodles in YouTube-worthy fashion."

    OK so this is not going to be a high end seafood Canto restaurant like Lei Gardens in IFC Hong Kong or a Koi Garden kind of deal....

    Xiao long bao wiith black truffles....they must have been reading the China / Taiwan board of CH and taking the idea from Din Tai Fung.

    Foie gras cheung fun....yawn.

    10 to 15 kinds of dim sum....not a full fledge dim sum restaurant for sure.

    Sounds like a Charles Phan Heaven's Dog kind of model but maybe more successful.

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

    Heaven's Dog
    1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Yan Can
    3927 Rivermark Plz, Santa Clara, CA 95054

    5 Replies
    1. re: K K

      There will never be a restaurant like Lei Garden in SF. The people here just don't understand high end Cantonese cuisine. That's the demand side of the argument.

      Nor do places like Koi Palace know how to run a high end business. The level of sophistication required is well beyond their grasp. That's the supply side of the argument.

      SF can't even put together a decent xiao long bao, and here someone is trying to sell xiao long bao with black truffles? Please.

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

      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

        It's not that hard to comprehend.

        Westfield downtown SF is not Taipei 101 let alone IFC Hong Kong. The type of restaurant and demographic there has to be specific, or perhaps generic is a better word.

        Also, these folks (and others who have tried before but failed) know very well it's a fusion world here. That's where the money is.

        Yan is tight with most of the SF Chinese restaurant community. I'm sure you've watched KTSF-26 when you live(d) here, or seen such ads in the local Sing Tao and Chinese newsprint, and these big boys all know each other (hence voting each other as "best" this or "top 100" that), it's the same thing every year.

        "The people here just don't understand high end Cantonese cuisine"

        And they won't get low end high quality rustic Cantonese either. I also believe the demand is just not there, in addition to the level of execution can't even be met.

        1. re: K K

          "the demand is just not there"
          koi mostly draws chinese, doubt they will come here with the parking issue. not to mention what they will charge.

          who will martin yan draw? people looking for cheap eats ala yan can cook?
          think the alliance will create fusion and confusion. prospective patrons unclear.
          sidenote: younger diners may experiment. older diners will probably stay away.

      2. re: K K

        Thanks for the additional information. It explains conflicting signage at the mall as to the name of the new enterprise. Also I can tell you a lot of people are going to take an early plane up from LA to SF when it opens to try the truffle XLB and foie gras cheung fun.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          Foie gras anything in Cantonese seafood restaurants that are using this as an ingredient in cheung fun or dinner/stir fry dishes is marked as "goose liver" in Chinese, and is not really a new least I've noticed this in the last 2 to 3 years at the usual suspects in SF Bay Area. Same thing...the market and interest level doesn't seem to be there and some dismiss it as the gimmick it is (otherwise this would be more prevalent), similarly to restaurants that offer revival rustic/almost faded out of existence dishes to keep up with Hong Kong trends.

          LA folks might have better luck trying to petition Frank Yang (owner of Din Tai Fung Arcadia) to get the restaurant to make black truffle XLB.

        1. I have high regards for martin yan as a person and as a performance artist (protraying a celebrity chef) and he's pretty good as an actor in a comedy role (movie). i've only tried kor at daly city and dublin. never tried yan's anywhere. heartell koi themed restaurants at gambling locations did not fare well.

          i would be pleasantly surprised if the food critics gives this venture high fives. .no doubt the general public will temporarily eat it up in the short term.