What more can be said about Daimo, the 200 seat Hong Kong chain whose 500 item menu spans everything from humble congee to exotic ostrich … and good ostrich from what I’ve read.
Adding to its popularity is it is open from 9 am to 3 am.
I’ve never been. While the many positive reports stick in my memory, I couldn’t remember what was recommended.
So after going thru a lot of reports and newspaper reviews, I thought I’d pull out some great reports and links and put them here for other Daimo first-timers.
A good starting place is this 1999 … yes 1999 … SF Chronicle review. It seems Daimo is timeless. The review has a nice description of the won tons which is what I plan to have first based on so many positive comments. The Chron wrote …
“The filling is a dense amalgam of nearly whole shrimp, coarsely ground pork and a hint of pepper and ginger. Portions the size of golf balls are wrapped in gossamer-thin dough that infuse the broth with … a stock that, using a traditional method, is prepared by simmering chicken in a pot that rests inside a steaming wok. The result is a crystal clear, double- boiled soup that is rich in chicken flavor and not the least bit greasy … cooks snip some yellow Chinese chives over the top, adding one more layer of character.”
Johathan Gold in another review says of the filling “whole shrimp sandwiched between a fresh scallop and a dried one.”
My question here … which won ton to order? It seems people lean toward the war won ton soup.
Other Daimo questions …
How many menus are there? Besides the menus on the wall, I read there are two menus with a suggestion there is a third. A Chowhound wrote …
“While eating at Daimo last night I noticed someone just seated at another table go back to the entrance and pick up a different menu. Checked on the way out and they have printouts of the daily specials. Also noticed a third menu of interesting set dinners.”
Is there a best time to go? It seems the most negative comments come from people who use it as a late night stop. Is it a Cinderella story … after midnight the magic is gone?
It seems the price edge Daimo has is gone and I read a report (unreliable) of an ownership change in the past two years. Any truth in this?
Positive mentions of dishes from the Chowhound links at the end …
SALT AND PEPPER CRAB
“ I think Daimo has the best salt-and-pepper crab that I have ever tasted. It's salty, mildly spicy, but also with a slightly sweet aftertaste that balances out the 2 stronger flavors as they linger in your mouth. The coating is a nice, thick batter that slides off if you use your teeth on the shell as you suck to extract the meat (probably not the most polite way to eat crab).”
“My favorite dish here is their salt-and-pepper crab, which has a slightly sweet taste that balances out the stronger flavors.”
“I really enjoyed the congee I had there when I was there last (shredded pork and preserved egg). The egg was perfect in taste and quantity, and peanuts were a delicious addition”
“Half a "Daimo special roast chicken with garlic" It came with the skin crispy fried, but tender and juicy inside and served with fried garlic slivers and black vinegar for dipping)”
The East Bay Express has a lovely description of the roast chicken …
“roast chicken looks perfectly lacquered, brown and shiny with soy sauce. The skin is as brittle as scorched parchment in places; it clings tenuously to pieces of succulent meat”
There’s also a nice description of the steamed spot prawns and pig’s knuckle.
BEEF BRISKETS IN HOI SIN SAUCE
"Beef briskets in Hoi Sin sauce" (in the Hot Pot section of the menu). And it was just that! Thick slices/chunks of brisket, no veg, and not very much sauce, actually. But man, the brisket was fork tender. The pieces seemed large at first, but fell apart pretty easily in my rice bowl. The sauce was more savory than sweet, even with the jolt of 5 spice. The hoisin beef hot pot was perfect; tender chunks of beef redolent of anise.
“One regular-menu item we often order is Peking duck "two-style": first you get a platter with crispy skin and buns, later they bring out the meat stir-fried with garlic and black beans.”
“I am partial to their Cantonese roast duck, which comes with little marinated soybeans. It is pricier than most places, but way better than the duck from Ranch 99. I get the duck cut up, save the neckbones and other less meaty pieces to make excellent soup broth.”
“whole bbq duck - juicy but fatty, skin s/b crisper”
CHOWHOUND WON TON COMMENTS
“Daimo's known for their wontons, which are incredibly fresh with a whole shrimp in each one.”
“The wonton noodle soup had only five wontons, but they were packed full of crunchy shrimp with little other filler. There was a generous quantity of al dente noodles. “
“Their shrimp wontons and noodle soup is superior.”
OTHER POSITIVE MENTIONS
“We had steamed bbq pork buns; soft, yeasty, and sweet buns filled with tender pork and a judicious amount of sauce. These are my now-favorite version!”
“The tomato beef chow fun was fantastic. Nicely charred noodles with big pieces of tomato that clearly tasted of TOMATO, and lots of beef strips.”
“We also had gai lan in oyster sauce that had a nice crunch.”
“Gai lon w/oyster sauce - huge portion, perfect”
“We ordered the Frog legs and eggplant in XO sauce. Tim said this amazingly tender, with plenty of garlic. (gee, is that why none was left for me??!)
“Clay pot spicy eggplant with seafood. The eggplant was not at all spicy, and the squid/scallops/shrimp in it was very tender and succulent.”
“gotta go for the salt/pepper fried calamari”
“Their wok charred salt & pepper calamari is always tender and fresh.”
“The stir-fried dishes always arrive piping hot and with that special smoky aroma that is the mark of the chef's skill with a really hot wok.”
“Their rice plates lunches are also excellent”
“Pea shoot leaves (the Big ones) - exceptionally good, perfect leaves, seasoning garlicky but not too”
” Some other successes I've had are their fresh greens, including large pea leaves (da dou miao) prepared with dried scallops or fresh crab "gravy" and water spinach(on choy or kong xin cai) with preserved fish.
“Noodles w/enoki mushrooms - noodles were soft-chewy, just right”
“Salt & pepper spareribs - fried to juicy perfection w/ garlic chips and chili, almost pork chop-like”
“Roasted pig - tasty lean pieces of meat w/very thin crispy skin atop, should have asked for the rib section which would have been less lean”
“Brisket & turnip soup. Not on the menu. The broth is infused with wok fried basil. It's as good as it sounds.”
Of course this only scratches the surface. I haven’t read EVERY post. There are lots of one-line mentions.
Here are a few dishes recommended: good clay pot dishes, Dungeness crab in XO sauce, Stir-fried convolvus with preserved tofu, Fried salt-and-pepper tofu, Beef with bitter melon, Fook king chow fan, Pork, tofu, and oyster clay pot, BBQ Pork, chicken and corn, braised crab dishes fish congee, Shang Hai dumpling, fried tofu, honey walnut shrimp, Spinach with Garlic, Eggplant with Chili Sauce, pork with shredded mustard greens and taro, braised crab dishes, fish congee, Shang Hai dumpling, fried tofu, lo mein noodles with duck, HK milk tea.
Of course it isn’t all raves. There are people who think ‘eh’. Some dishes like this are misses …
“Singapore chili crab .,.. Crab was a decent size and tasty but the sauce was all wrong, from the color (a strange yellow - turmeric?) to the taste (a little off to my palate). Dish was served with soft steamed buns - I would have preferred a crusty”
This doesn’t seem to be the place to go specifically for dim sum as there are quite a few comments that it is limited.
Any other weak spots here to avoid?
From a Chronicle ‘Best of’ mention, here’s a little about the fish tanks …
“You pick the fish (it's sold by the pound), and select from more than two dozen preparations, ranging from a plain blanch in hot water to an elaborate saucing of black beans or curry”
So … any other tips? Do you agree with the above? Any favorites that were missed?
Daimo Chinese Restaurant
3288 Pierce Street
Richmond, CA 94804
Daily: 9 am – 3 am
Does this place ever close for holidays?
Just a few previous Chowhound posts … Those with the name in the title.