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Asian Pearl or Koi Palace (or???) for midweek, late morning dim sum before flying out of SFO?

Usually when we're in the city, we're either in the avenues or Chinatown for dim sum. This time (two weeks from now) we're staying in the airport area the night before our flight which doesn't depart til midafternoon. It's an 11 hour international flight to Frankfort (and on to Barcelona!) so I'm thinking late morning dim sum prior to heading to the airport will fill us full of good food and tide us over til dinner. I've seen plenty of love here for Koi Palace and was set on that. But a CH friend of mine said he's heard that Asian Pearl is as good and for a lot less money. Any thoughts on the two or any other places as good or better? I know that "best dim sum" is a slippery slope but thought I'd ask anyway. To let you know our comfort level, we never go to Yank Sing because I believe that the same quality can be had for a lot, lot less money. The last few years we've been going to House of Banquet on Clement which we love. Any thoughts/opinions will be appreciated. TIA.

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  1. I don't know Asian Pearl. The Kitchen in Millbrae is pretty good for dim sum. Great quality, tasty dim sum selection.

    1. haven't been to Asian Pearl, but you can't go wrong with KP. And I don't recall the prices being as extreme as Yank Sing.

      1. Asian Pearl is quite good, but not all that much less expensive than KP (unless you will be ordering seafood). Certainly much closer to the airport too.

        1. Thanks. Am I correct that Asian Pearl is carts only and Koi Palace has both menu and carts. I really like the menu as we 'pace' ourselves better :)

          1 Reply
          1. KP has broader menu offerings. Not a huge difference in price. AP is much closer to SFO. My memory is foggy, but I think AP has carts as well as a menu. Both are good.

            1. Hung To is good, cheap, easy parking, short drive to SFO.

              Koi Palace is a little cheaper than Yank Sing, but not much. If you think you can get the same quality as Yank Sing for a lot less money, you'd probably feel the same about Koi Palace.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Oh, I definitely get the same quality. So why spend multiples more than is necessary by going to Yank Sing? I'm inclined to stick with my CH friend's rec of Asian Pearl. Have you been there? We're staying at a hotel near SFO and leaving our car and taking their shuttle. AP is a straight shot there and back. Just a little easier than KP.

                1. re: c oliver

                  If you don't have a car, Asian Pearl makes more sense than Hung To.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Sorry, I wasn't clear. We're doing a park-sleep-fly so we'll have our car til time to go to the airport.

                    Just stumbled across this. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695577

                    This is making me hungry for dim sum :) I won't be going in search of that in Barcelona!

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I went to Asian Pearl once and asked for some help choosing. There were 2 older male managers and one of them was not helpful AT ALL; the other one was very nice and tried to steer us in the right direction. (The women with the carts seemed to speak no English.) There was only one thing I really liked (can't remember what it was).

                      I've been to the Kitchen, pretty good, very close to the airport. My favorite is Yank Sing; I don't mind the higher prices and they take reservations.

                      1. re: walker

                        Hi, walker. Yank Sing isn't a possibility but thanks. I generally find that the cart ladies don't speak much English (hey, why should they?!?) but others do. And I ask other diners what they're eating and what they like.

              2. A followup to my OP. We went to Asian Pearl in Millbrae and WALKED OUT after 20 minutes! Something I've never done at any Chinese restaurant. During that time we asked three times for tea which we never received. And were answered quite abruptly each time. I mean just how hard is it to serve a pot of generic tea? The one thing we ordered was chicken feet. They were ridiculously undercooked. And the check showed the $6+ version rather than the $3 version. We were ready to order more dishes but weren't graced with the presence of our server. Too busy not making tea, I suppose. We stopped at the front and explained our displeasure which didn't seem to bother them particularly and there was no mention of not charging us. At that point, neither of us was interested in causing a scene so we paid and left. The good news was that Bob had spotted a Mexican place a couple of blocks north where we had a really nice lunch.

                I called my Chow friend, laughing rather maniacally about the 'incident.' He's still upset by it cause the AP is Sacramento is his fave. We'll go there next time. I hope others have better luck than we did.

                7 Replies
                1. re: c oliver

                  Oh, that's really too bad! Next time maybe Hong Kong Flower Lounge. It's not the sexy choice, but in my experience it's consistent and the service there has always been good. The new Millbrae branch of South Sea Seafood Village might be another option.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I was about to suggest Hong Kong Flower Lounge until I saw the date of the OP. Sorry to hear about Asian Pearl. That is weird because most dim sum places will ask you what tea you want first and bring it right away. I really like Hong Kong Flower Lounge. It's not as fancy in dish selection as Koi Palace, but solid in terms of what they do serve. And if you have any favorites that you don't see, you can ask and they may make it for you. And for catching a flight to SFO, it's great being in Millbrae right off the freeway exit. (For next time!)

                  2. re: c oliver

                    The chicken feet dish may have been cooked in "lo suey" or an abalone sauce -- a larger portion and premium sauce served al dente... there's no excuse for their other lapses ...

                    1. re: Sarah

                      To you and Ruth, thanks. It wasn't so much the yucky chicken feet (big globs of undercooked fat under the skin) as the attitude. I don't expect 'warm and fuzzy' but this was just too much. But being able to vent here has let me turn it loose :) Thanks again.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      Oh no! For the past two or three years Asian Pearl Peninsula has been my most consistent source of good dim sum experiences. The service has never been stellar but it has always been at least acceptable. I heard they changed ownership (about six months ago?) and I have not gone recently, so perhaps the management change has gone badly.

                      Even before the ownership change I heard complaints from other people but my experiences were always positive. I always go on weekdays which may be better for service.

                      Maybe Millbrae is just losing its dim sum mojo. Could competition from all the new Chinese places there serving other styles of food be somehow hurting the dim sum places?

                      Zen Peninsula has been my second favorite Millbrae spot, often with very good quality but very inconsistent. I was happy with my one visit to South Sea Seafood Village but don’t much like The Kitchen. I haven’t been to HKFL in ages but maybe it’s time to give them a try.

                      1. re: charliemyboy

                        I was honestly surprised. Although we no longer live in SF, we eat dim sum anytime we can. Usuallly the minute we, as non-Chinese, ask for chicken feet the servers get 'happy' and we're treated well. Even if not effusive, we've never had service like this. We won't go back THERE but will try other South Bay places as opportunties present themselves.

                    3. I am SO glad I live near Asian Pearl, honestly I like both Koi Palace and Asian Pearl

                      KP (like Thomas mentioned) has a broader menu and things you won't see in Asian Pearl, however my mom finds that there isn't much diff and actually prefers Asian Pearl (she used to visit hong kong every month).

                      Either way, you won't be disappointed in both.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sparkerly

                        I'm guessing you didn't see my followup post. I wouldn't go back to AP if THEY paid ME! Too many other good places around where we're treated well.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Oh no, sorry I didn't check the dates. Wow, sorry to hear about your bad experience..
                          yeah chinese places...it's inevitable for service to suck. I've given up on service with chinese restaurants :(

                          1. re: sparkerly

                            See, with some exceptions (Dol Ho being one), I find service in Chinese places just fine to very good. I'm annoyingly smiley-faced when I don't speak the language. Maybe they think I'm a crazy person and that should be careful :)

                      2. go to Koi Palace, Ive been there twice this year on my way out of SF, its super close to the airport and KP is very efficient and the food is excellent. It's the one of only three places in the US that i've been to that would be considered a decent place in hong kong (sea harbour and elite in LA are the others).

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Lau

                          Will do. Elite is the best dim sum I've ever had so that is high praise in my book. Thanks for the comparison.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            i like sea harbour the best out of them, i find their execution to be the best, but they're all fairly close to each other. i will give koi palace the nod on variety and having noveau dim sum items which you might see in HK but rarely in the US

                            1. re: c oliver

                              ah yah im from newport beach, so well aware of the drive. however, i always take 405 to 710, which doesn't look like its faster, but saves you driving up the 5 since you always get screwed on the 5

                              next time you're in OC, contact me and ill give you a massive list of places in little saigon, which ive explored very thoroughly and i think is one of my favorite places to eat in the US

                              sea harbour and elite are pretty close, but i think the execution at sea harbour is quite good, definitely get their snow buns...those are sooo good although they always run out early

                              1. re: Lau

                                Oops, meant to write "the 405." Still a mess the second we rolled into LA County. Thanks for the offer. I'll take you up on it one of these days...and maybe you can be our guest! Thanks, C

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  if i happen to be in CA at the same time would be happy to