Anybody Try Chef's Inspiration in Milpitas Square?
Unfortunately my first visit to Milpitas Square in a couple of years was a little after 2:30 pm, and virtually every restaurant in the complex closes from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. This seemed the most interesting with their dim sum offerings. Can anybody report on this?
I was in the area so came here for lunch. I was intrigued by the various La Mian and asked my server (in English) if it was hand-pulled, because on the menu it's translated as Rice Noodle. She said yes and I asked again and pantomimed with my hands doing the stretching/pulling noodles motion. By then another male server walked by and also said yes. I asked if they pull the noodles here and they said no, they ordered them.
I thought that meant they order hand pulled noodles from a source that makes them for restaurants, so I asked them for the chinese name of #17 in the Lunch Specials section (La Mian noodle with sliced beef in spicy soup). When they said what sounded like "Niu Riu La Mian", I was excited and that's what I ordered.
What a mistake! Or a big let down. These were NOT handpulled, handmade, or even fresh noodles. As you can see in the picture, the noodles are straight and loose, like the dried sticks sold in straight, uniform lengths in a package. I called a server over and said these were not hand pulled. They said no, not hand pulled, we order the noodles. wtf?? I asked why they first said it was hand pulled and she just kind of shrugged. With a language barrier, I didn't know how to ask to return the noodles and order something else without them thinking I wanted something in addition to the noodles. So I stuck with these.
The broth was bland except for the numbingly high level of heat from chopped whole chiles and dried chile flakes (the kind that get caught in your throat). No beef stew flavor in the broth. The beef was in thick slices that seemed tenderized but at the same time really tough. Like in bad beef & broccoli. No bok choy or greens, just shredded scallion. I ate most of the beef, a few of the noodles, and left most of it uneaten when I gave up & went to pay. At least it was fairly cheap ($5.95).
I am rating the Dim-Sum lunch we had here today, and comparing it to the Dim-Sum lunches I have had in many restaurants in SF, LA, Montreal, NYC, and Hong Kong, not to mention others in Milpitas and Fremont. The quality here was simply outstanding. We had three different shrimp dishes and all were tender, juicy, and flavorful, with not an over-cooked or rubbery dish in sight. The beef balls were delicately flavored with several herbs and spices, making them feel light on the palate. The lotus-wrapped sticky rice with chicken was also nicely seasoned and above average for this popular selection. The Pork/Shrimp Shu-Mai were generously sized and the flavors blended quite well. Our favorite was probably the shrimp puffs, which produced a textural delicacy I haven't found before, even though I've tried several similar dishes. All the previous ones were a bit too oily. The service was prompt and efficient and the hot tea stayed hot in the teapot throughout our meal. My only quibble is that they don't provide the hot/spicy oils or mustard, just a red pepper pot for adding spice on the side. We ate quite well and the total bill was $12/person, very nicely priced for 2013! - NOTE: I haven't tried the dinner or regular lunch here so this review is dim-sum-specific!