A few weeks ago, I (finally) collected on a lobster debt, this time with a week day lunch at Zen Peninsula. Lobster yee mein was a grand opening special, $18. But first we tried some dim sum.
From the friendly ladies circling the room with baskets of dumplings on trays, we chose the two shown in the upper quadrants. I misplaced the duplicate part dim sum menu, so dont know the exact names for them. The one on the left was filled with fresh shrimp and celery and the one on the right was spinach and seafood. They were freshly steamed, non-greasy and bursting with flavor. The skins were thin and highly translucent. Theyre relatively large in size with three to an order filling a basket with a more ssertive taste that reminded me of the style at Joy Luck Place or Koi Palace (vs. the delicacy of Harbor Village or Hong Kong Flower Lounge).
Then we ordered the foie gras and sharkfin siu mai. A thin disk of foie is a lid on the usual pork and shrimp-filled siu mai, then a few shreds of sharks fin and some roe dot the top. Rafe liked this more than I did. Cooked to fully done and gray, the foie tasted too muddy to me, since I prefer mine rare and pink. But we did agree that it was real foie gras. This was my second foie gras dish in a Chinese restaurant, and we mused that it might be hard to ban the stuff from California in the future if it becomes part of the Cantonese culinary mainstream. (g)
The lobster ordered from the tabletop card was last to arrive. The presentation was nice with the stir-fried pieces of lobster rearranged in anatomical correctness from head to tail and not just jumbled on top. The lobster was sweet and tender, but somewhat watery and tasted like it was parboiled rather than cooked by the high heat of the wok. The saucing was light and delicate with just a whisper of ginger and scallions. Rather than the promised yee mein, this was made with regular egg noodles that were cooked too soft and stuck together. It was a good dish for $18, but there are better versions and I probably wouldnt pay full price for this.
Overall, this was a good experience and Im looking forward to returning for more from the dim sum menu and a dinner some time.
On-going discussion of Zen Pen and other Millbrae Chinese
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