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Apr 15, 2014 10:24 PM

Cooking Papa (Mountain View)

Portion of the menu is up on their home page. If the menu is accurate, looks like they will have dim sum, something that the other locations don't have. plus the private kitchen dishes at the foster city location will be at Mountain View as well.

Looks like they are close to opening.

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  1. Soft opening was yesterday (Sunday 5-18).

    5 Replies
    1. re: DagingKuda

      Thanks, I'd like to hear from anyone who's eaten there already and/or can paint the scene for us.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I tried a couple dishes for takeout but will soon try more, since the location is convenient. Assured, professional reception; somewhat frenetic-looking kitchen partially visible behind a glass window; bright open dining area. LOTS of servers/runners standing by, prepared for additional diners. From what I observed while there, the most limited resourc was the kitchen -- quite a few people waiting for take-out and some of the seated diners looked a little impatient. However, lots of people were eating plenty of appealing-looking food. And mounds of the Egg Puffs which I gather are a CP trademark -- many of these diners must have been familiar with them from other CP locations.

        I believe it was a Sizzler location previously, anyway the site got extensive remodeling in the last couple of months. Private parking lot was about filled while the restaurant wasn't yet (maybe 60% seats taken when I was there), suggesting the lot may be inadequate at very busy times.

        _I'll comment about food after more sampling._ A friend was inquiring about this month's DOTM but they didn't seem to have it, currently anyway. [ETA emphasis here.]

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I took my two kids today for an early lunch - they love dim sum - there are no carts - you pick out what you want to eat on a menu with check boxes. We ordered the shrimp dumplings, BBQ Pork Buns and Pan Fried Shrimp and Chive dumplings.

          It was fairly busy - most tables were full except for about 4 large round tables. Our order took over 20 minutes to arrive for the first dumplings...the last set of dumplings took over 40 minutes to arrive

          The Shrimp Dumplings and BBQ Pork Buns were mediocre at best. The Shrimp and Chive pan fried - one of our favorites were not at all good - they were green for some reason on the wrapper - not much chives inside or shrimp - mostly chopped up meat - pork? I've never seen these made that way - I tasted one - awful - we asked to be sure we got the right order....they assured us that they did.
          We also tried the rice noodle soup with shrimp dumplings - I highly doubt that broth was not from a can - very salty and no flavor - a very flat dish.
          Pretty pricey too compared to Fu La Lum in Mountain View.
          Kids didn't want to go back and try anything else...

          1. re: takuhead

            Since the dim sum chef came from ABC, would you say the dim sum quality is similar to ABC, or worse?

            I called them up today dinner time at 5:50 and asked how long the wait was and they said 20 minutes. Worried that the food would come slowly after the wait for a table, Ended up at Napoletana instead.

      2. Actually the restaurant opened for business Saturday (not Sunday) around 10 AM, was immediately crowded, and was serving dim sum, though it ran out later in the day.

        And as the night doth reliably follow the day, the usual BS comments are promptly appearing online from people lacking enough brains to not compare a restaurant barely open against its well-established siblings they're familiar with. O the times...

        10 Replies
          1. re: DagingKuda

            Agreed, DK; but I'm not even sure the issue I mentioned comes from haters. More like a demonstration of the Eleven Principles:


            1. re: eatzalot

              It is more like an inflated expectation from those one off reviewers without understanding things from the business side and the daunting task CP has undertaken to keep a wide menu, yet more or less nailing the taste, value, and quality from the big picture.

              Cooking Papa Foster City did not get to where they are now without a lot of work and time (and thus rewarded with Michelin recommended last 2+ years). Maintaining quality consistently (with highs and lows/good and bad days) is no easy task, especially when Foster City location set their own bar so high. Same thing with Korean restaurant Jang Su Jang...they may not be the best Korean restaurant in Santa Clara, but there is a level of consistency along with service.

              The addition of dim sum to the MV location, may very well be to their detriment if they are not careful since it will very likely overshadow their other offerings during lunch period, and put undue stress onto one category and staff member(s) of the kitchen far beyond others. But I am very certain the owners thought and planned this through and am confident on what they are doing. They didn't earn their success by luck and doing things on the fly, that is for sure.

              I think the people who will get more worked up over negative reviews are from those of us who care, more than the restaurant....but I will say that the owners are aware of online reviews, though not sure what they do with them if anything, and to me appear receptive to constructive feedback if you approach them the right way. Their fanbase is large enough that they could write off les miserable if need be.

              1. re: K K

                Yet surely (and this I think is part of MC slim's point in the linked essay), adults who can read and write are capable of (and accountable for) distinguishing an established Cooking Papa from one whose business history is measured in hours. And knowing that the standards from the one are irrelevant to the other, if you aim to write comments useful to your readers. (To me that's the issue here, not negativity per se. There are always constitutionally negative online commentators, even with smooth-running quality restaurants. But with newly opened places you have people assessing the whole restaurant, in a posting that may remain visible for a long time, who would likely be far more positive after the restaurant has worked out OBVIOUS early kinks, yet they choose to make no allowance for that.)

              2. re: eatzalot

                If you want to heap your criticism on other online sites while speaking in generalities, there are plenty of threads on the Food Media board and other parts of this site where you'll get more traction in sharing your ideas. Not on topic for this board.


                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  You are right that the _general_ topic is not appropriate to this board. However, this began not as generalities at all, but specifics, a side comment about public reception of a new restaurant that extends a reputable restaurant group. I have no thought of further such comments.

                  Threads do drift, and those who dislike it might aid their cause by not adding meta-comments about the drift itself.

                  1. re: eatzalot

                    Please do be specific about the online comments that you allude too. Then readers can judge for themselves. Otherwise, you've only put forth a bunch of generalities that has no use to this thread.

                    Also, I would hate for any other potential posters to interpret your comments in a way that discouraged them from sharing their personal opinions of the new spot.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Melanie, I mentioned that I had already seen careless negative conclusive appraisals of this new restaurant online (not on Chowhound, a point self-evident at the time since there were no appraisals at all on CH). Not generalities. Anyone seeking further details could easily find the same, by searching.

                      I CERTAINLY don't mean to discourage anyone on CH from sharing personal opinions and I hope I haven't. My point here was far narrower -- that the experience of a new restaurant on its opening weekend isn't the final word -- and one of CH's strengths is that people here tend to know that!

                      1. re: eatzalot

                        Your comments have discouraged people on CH from sharing personal opinions. I only ask that people who share on a limited data set be fair and comment when they visited, which on CH they do. Out of all these comments a clear consensus emerges.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          My comment May 19 reflected only some very early reports I'd just read on another online site, which took this barely open restaurant to task for not performing like a well-established restaurant. DagingKuda and KK seemed to understand this. Again I do apologize if anyone took them in a different way, whch I hadn't intended or anticipated.

          2. Trying more things and getting to know the menu, I see that some dishes from other CPs aren't on this one's basic menu, but they appear on supplements, such as this (a separate sheet at the table) for dim-sum dishes which we sampled at a recent weekday lunch.

            That sheet includes the famous cheung fun or "Rice Noodle Rolls," many kinds. "RNR w/assorted mushrooms" ($5.80) was tasty, mild; Rice Noodle Roll with Flour Crisp (4.50) -- new to me, a must-try, less for flavor (it's used like potato or corn chips, as a foil for dips, three provided) than the unusual texture (soft rice noodle enclosing hollow crisp deep-fried pastry). Is that the Ja Leung that KK mentioned from Foster City?

            I want to try other "RNRs" offered (with shredded roasted duck, sliced fish & cilantro, fish paste, etc).

            KK's recommended braised beef brisket lo mein, "L3" (9.50) came with simple curly yellow noodles on a plate next to the braised beef, a bowl of broth on the side. Brisket was in random cuts, not trimmed and sliced as brisket often appears in European or US traditions, but random chunks with connective tissues and fat; plenty of meat anyway, and I much enjoyed its delicate flavor of braising spices (star anise, etc.).

            Note that initial weekday midday service hours 11-4 have been reduced slightly to 11-3, and this place does take Visa and MC.

            4 Replies
            1. re: eatzalot

              As an amusement, I've asked my office manager to order lunch from this place (we're near enough and order out from places like Tommy Thai and Green Elephant). He hasn't managed to get anyone there that speaks enough english to help him order for our office. He keeps trying. We do have a chinese speaker in the office so perhaps they'll all manage to connect sometime.

              1. re: bbulkow

                In-person, the front staff have been quite helpful and English-fluent, especially a managerial woman who acts as hostess sometimes and is a veteran of another CP location -- happy to discuss dishes and specialties.

                My ordering to-date, including take-out, was in person rather than by phone. On the first weekend, I even heard employees telling customers they weren't taking phone orders yet for take-out, though handling plenty of them in person.

                1. re: eatzalot

                  The managerial woman is likely either Prascilla or Eleanor, both have ownership stakes in all the CP locations.

              2. re: eatzalot

                Yes rice noodle roll with flour crisp is indeed the carb on carb item known as "ja leung".

                I've been to CP MV twice so far, so let me offer some comments

                - there are a few veterans from CP Foster City working at CP MV, guessing for the long haul. There are also junior waitstaff and newcomers.

                - Once you understand CP's operations, you'll come to realize the 10+ hour workdays the staff goes through...very stressful and some of the junior staff do not have the capacities to handle a high stress high turnover environment, and are not as wired into the business as the senior staff....thus need more time and training.

                - the kitchen perhaps is a tad small to be able to handle all the tables and load. I think CP MV would benefit by having fewer tables, so waitstaff can navigate between easier...but I think they planned it that way so to maximize throughput, and thus revenue. But what they have now is pretty much a bottleneck when it is super busy.

                - of the dishes sampled so far, a majority of them are quite pleasing. The preorder baked sago pudding dessert was excellent. Roast pork belly and empress chicken very good. The drinks need some work (only tried iced lemon tea), but at this rate better than nothing.

                As much service and consistency issues/complaints there are currently, you have to admit that there isn't another "brand" of Cantonese high paced comfort based food restaurants out there that can open up quickly to face huge crowds...and it will not subside anytime soon. I sure am glad they are in MV, instead of a Sizzler or Chick Fil A.

                As far as speculation about dim sum and the chef being ex-ABC...who knows. It could go either way. The resulting product could be different by the same chef in a different environment/different ownership and management/operation philosophy. If owners are smart and know the limits of the chef's potential they would figure out a plan to get what they can out of it within reason. I would rather try CP MV dim sum than Fu Lam Mum...

              3. Went today for lunch.

                the convertible (square/ circular) tables in the middle of the restaurants are not usable when folded into the square shape. i am not talking about comfortably, because its for sure uncomfortable. the table legs prevent two of the four people from sitting properly. but i couldn't even sit facing the table because there was nowhere to put my legs unless i sat like a foot away from the table. but of course there is a chair 1 inch behind mine so i ended up twisting my body sitting like 45 degrees. that, more than anything, is probably the reason why i won't pre-order any private kitchen dishes at this restaurant if i couldn't even sit properly.

                Had 3 dishes:

                egg shrimp fried wide noodle. overall this is the most successful dish. cooked with nice high temperature and bouncy noodle. seasoned just right.

                braised beef with noodle (broth on side). the braised beef is great, great seasoning and tender, though the ratio of beef to noodle can really be improved. by the time we were done with the beef there's still a big pile of noodle left. preferred the noodle to be more al dente.

                the pork bone with watercress porridge. a bit on the salty side. one could argue that the 'pork bones' were more 'pork ribs'.

                ordered 'sau mei' tea even though i didn't have the dim sum dish. the tea was not good.