It was the battle of the palaces: yesterday at Koi Palace in Daly City, and today at Legendary Palace in Oakland. Both places have been mentioned occasionally on the board, and spoken of highly, but with less attention than Harbor Village, Yank Sing, and other places. My own humble verdict: Koi Palace is the best dim sum I've ever had (in any country), while Legendary Palace was a disappointment.
Koi Palace specializes in seafood and has as wide an array of dim sum options as I've ever seen. Stand-outs were the XO rice noodle rolls, the juicy Shanghai dumplings, the pan-fried leek dumplings, and the tao miu (pea shoots) sauteed in garlic. Textures were perfect: resilient wrappers, plump shrimp, crunchy vegetables. And when we requested items that weren't coming around, our special orders came promptly.
I think Legendary Palace has a serious food-flow problem. Most of the dishes that I am used to having hot or warm (broccoli in oyster sauce, egg custard tarts, potstickers, sesame balls) were room temperature -- and even when I asked for fresher egg custard tarts, the plate I got had clearly sat around long enough so that the pastry was soggy-greasy and the egg congealed. All of the dumplings that were hot were also very gummy, leading me to suspect that had cooled off and were re-heated. When I went to the restroom and saw the entrance to the kitchen, it seemed that they're very inefficient in getting the food out -- their system of transfering food from the kitchen to a staging area to the carts meant a long time between cooking and serving. I have no doubt that it's a logistical challenge to serve a huge restaurant full of customers dozens of different dishes, but the incredible freshness of everything at Koi Palace proves that it is possible.
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