King Wah in Milpitas
Passing through Milpitas yesterday, I spotted the "grand opening" sign and stopped to take a look. I'd already eaten so I didn't partake of the dim sum service, but I did speak to a manager. He said that King Wah has been open for three months and has the same owner as King Wah in Daly City. It's not related to the spots of the same name in Oakland that I believe are closed.
The spacious interior is shiny new with lots of frosted glass and brocade in the manner of Hong Kong style seafood and dim sum palaces. Even at 2pm, the place was still about half full. Not inexpensive, the dim sum prices on the check-off menu are:
$6.00 chef special
The taro mountain buns (called baked taro sweet bun on the menu) that Cary is looking for are here as a "medium".
There's a full blown seafood menu and the photos look good. But, I'd love to hear from someone who's tried it.
1235 E Calaveras Blvd
M-F 11am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 10pm
S, Sun & Holiday 10am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm
http://kingwahmilpitas.com/ (under construction)
I've been there twice for lunch and four times for dinner, so this post is an amalgamation of those meals.
The dim sum is pretty average, even by South Bay standards. I tried all the standards (Har Gau, Siu Mai, Spareribs, Egg Tarts, Rice Noodle Rolls, etc.) and found none to be memorable. I'd say it's similar to what you'd find at ABC, Mayflower, Saigon and other nearby places but well below Asian Pearl and Koi.
The dinner on the other hand, relative to the South Bay, is decent if you order right. Keep your eye on what comes out of the kitchen in multiples.
At dinner, they run some promo price items, like $11 Squab, $15 Salt & Pepper Crab. Your server will pitch these to you. They also distribute a nicely illustrated special menu, and this is where a lot of their better dishes lie.
- Squab (meaty, moist - but don't expect Koi quality)
- Steak Cubes with Fried Silken Tofu (cribbed from Asian Pearl / Kitchen and tastes similar)
- Lettuce Wraps with Chicken, Lap Cheung, Basil (wok hay)
- The BBQ's are better than I'd expect from a mid-tier place (usually a risky thing to order). Had the Char Siu (moist, fatty), Roast Duck, Soy Sauce Chicken, and they were all OK. Some exceptions below.
- Pea Sprouts braised with cordyceps and crab meat. I like how the flavor of the cordyceps seeps in to the veggies.
- Shrimp-Stuffed Tofu Braised in XO Sauce. Predictable but pretty well made.
- Overcooked fish (we ordered a hung lung, shown live in the bucket). Pretty amateurish mistake for a seafood place.
- Pretty much every rice/noodle dish we've had. Fried Rice, Yee Mein, Rice Noodles. They don't have a good handle on their starches. They lack wok hay and the right balance of seasoning and ingredients.
- Pretty weak Suckling Pig. The skins weren't particularly crisp, and the accompanying meat was dry.
- BBQ Jowl (Ju Gang Yuk) - Normally a blissfully succulent variation of Char Siu in the right hands, their version was dry, salty and burnt. Probably overcooked.
Overall, it's a 3/5 for me. King Wah fills a niche in offering a decent Cantonese dinner fare at a lower price point than nearby choices (Asian Pearl, ABC, Mayflower, Saigon). Our family eats a lot of Cantonese, and for the times we don't want to splurge at Koi or Asian Pearl and want something more "sit down" than Cooking Papa, King Wah fits the bill.
> There's a full blown seafood menu and the photos look good.
Stock photo usage is pretty rampant in Cantonese menus now. I've seen their photos in other menus, so I assume they're stock photos for the most part.
I've been lazy about uploading photos to my computer, but I'm sitting on a lot of them for this restaurant and others. I'll put them up down the line.
Thanks for the detailed report on this place. Never heard anything great about King Wah (Daly City) but nothing aweful either, suspect it's nothing to write home about, but it is an option for those in that part of Daly City, along with Tai Wu that doesn't seem very interesting (their bakery I went recently and it's very rough around the edges for HK style).
I saw Hung Lung/channel rockfish at Marina Cupertino, for a very reasonable $14.99 a pound (live), this was 2.5 weeks ago. Suspect the season may be coming to a close, or they got really lucky and managed to get a batch. Should they expire, I'm guessing they'll end up as dead fish on ice with a different price. I paid $18 / lb in SF (Brother Seafood) and Cooking Papa (Foster City, preorder for Mother's Day)...got really lucky with the CP rendition, dead on perfect in all ways. Brother did a pretty decent job too.
re: K K
Yeah, Marina discounts fish to dead price when it's near death and places it on ice. If you arrive early in the day when they typically do this, and you effectively get a live-tasting fish at the "dead" price. I haven't seen this with Hung Lung, but frequently seen it done for rock cod and black bass.
Haven't been to Tai Wu's flagship, but they have a downmarket casual spot close to the FC Cooking Papa. Not quite the same thing but it's a cheap, divey sort of place to get homestyle dishes more so than BBQ/Congee/Wonton.
re: Melanie Wong
I have a weak spot for jowl done Cha Siu style. The best rendition is done by Koi Palace, but it has a tendency of running out by dinner-time. If you order it at lunch, you'll have a better shot.
Joy Luck Palace also does a good rendition, but it randomly comes out, and I don't think you can order it either.
re: Melanie Wong
I've been seeing good things from the Fremont Asian Pearl recently and will retry their jowl. The last time I had it, I found it lacking the characteristic "bounce" that I like to see in jowl, but with this sort of dish, it can be the luck of the draw at times.
Thanks for sharing the report.