Koi Palace (Daly City, CA)
365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
Dining date: 11/28/11
When I try to think of my favorite place for dim sum, a number of places come up. I really enjoy Sea Harbour, Elite and Lunasia in SoCal, but I think of only one in the Bay Area: Koi Palace. I’m not saying it’s the best in the Bay Area (I really haven’t tried nearly enough to make that sort of statement), but it’s a really good one. Heck, Jonathan Gold even recently said it might be the best HK-style restaurant in America.
My dad was craving Koi Palace so we dropped by on a Monday morning (there’s always lines on the weekend so a Monday was actually a very good time to go). This would be my last meal in the Bay Area over the Thanksgiving weekend; given it’s on the way to SFO, it was an ideal stop.
I’ve been to Koi Palace a number of times, located in Daly City just south of San Francisco. Most of the dim sum places in SF are cart-based; I prefer ordering from the menu. I think the food comes out fresher and allows for better planning…but you do lose out on the spontaneity of the carts. Koi Palace has a combination of both, a menu to order from while servers come around hawking other items. Perfect!
The restaurant’s stance on shark’s fin is quite clear. At the front entrance is an advertisement offering the fins for sale – $550/lb.
Love this teapot setup! I’m not sure why I haven’t seen this elsewhere, but it’s such a practical idea to have a candle underneath keeping the tea warm.
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling
These dumplings, or ha gow, are one of my standard-bearers at any dim sum restaurant. It’s so simple and easily comparable across restaurants. Kind of like a margherita pizza at a pizza place. The skin was translucent and slightly glutinous while the shrimp plump and moist. Passed the test!
Shrimp, Pork and Mushroom Dumpling
These siu mai were good as well, served piping hot. Flavorful chunks of pork and shrimp made up the bulk of flavor.
Shrimp Rice Roll
The noodle here was good, not great. It wasn’t quite as…sticky and glutinous as I was looking for, but the shrimp was spot on.
Deep Fried Crab Claw with Shrimp Paste
These were fried to a nice crisp and I liked the moist shrimp filling. The small crab claw on the inside was slightly overcooked, but I find that’s true almost everywhere.
Shanghai Style Juicy Dumpling
These were embarrassingly bad. The wrapper was mediocre – soggy and mushy, and the juice was leaking from many of them. The meaty interior wasn’t particularly memorable, either. Not sure what happened here.
Dried Scallop and Meat Sticky Rice, Lotus Leaf Wrap
A good lotus leaf rice dish, albeit nothing special.
Glutinous Dumpling with Pork
This is one of my dad’s favorite items. I liked the fried, sticky wrapping in tandem with the salty pork.
Tofu in Sweet Ginger Soup
Soft, silky tofu in a warm lightly sweetened gingery soup. Not bad.
Hand Roasted Suckling Pig
This was outstanding. I’m not sure how they prepared this, but I think they removed the skin beforehand, skimmed off much of the fat, and crisped it up separately…then put it back together. What resulted was relatively lean pieces of really flavorful and moist pork with extremely crispy pieces of pork skin. Wow. Packed with a porky flavor and a very subtle sweetness (I think from some beans on the bottom), if there was one flaw it was that it was served lukewarm.
Sugar Egg Puff
These were served fresh and warm, and were light, airy and covered in sugar. The interior was so soft and moist while the outside was sweet and yielding. It was basically like a fresh sugar doughnut. A really nice way to end the meal. My mom had three.
I thought this was a good meal and typical of my past visits. It wasn’t perfect (I’m looking at you, xiao long bao), but everything was quite good with some very high ‘highs’ (the pork was phenomenal). Everything was served rather hot and fresh (aside from the pork, intentionally) with rather clean flavors. Pretty tasty and satisfying. I’d have to say this is my favorite in the Bay Area from my somewhat limited experiences, and compares favorably to some of the best I’ve had in SoCal.
My cousin Timmy lives in Daly City. I will send this write up to him. He needs more Hand Roasted Suckling Pig in his life 🙂
Nice! He’ll love it.
VERY VERY NICE DARIN, love it!
Nice review! I personally think you got the XLB on an off-day. The char-siu and the hand roasted suckling pig are always winners in my book. Also, if you like the portuguese egg tart, this place is the ONE for it! Thanks for the good review! 🙂
Thanks for the feedback; Koi Palace is still probably the standard-bearer in the greater SF area for dim sum!