We're awash in new chinese places in the mid-peninsula.
Steam is on University Ave in PA, in the old Andale space near the Stanford theater. The place a full revamp, now done in hipper wood with a huge kitchen.
It's a new joint by the Tai Pan people, according to sources, and the chefs do know what they are doing, but the menu is a little scattered. They're doing a pan-southern-china thing, from HK to Shanghai. The menu is surprisingly short, if you're used to HKFL or Fu Lam Mum or similar (which I always thought about Tai Pan, too). Short can be good.
Everything was good but not great, and the speed and price was quite good. $20/pp out the door tax and tip (no alcohol). Probably took no more than an hour total, even though the service was a little laggy.
The food is medium-americanized. They've left off lots of "american specialties" - there's no Broccoli Beef or General's Chicken. The south isn't that spicy and bold, and the spices were subtle here (felt like high MSG though).
We had to get the XLB, which was average at best. The skins were fairly good, but the soup quantity was low, and not very flavorful. Even with a serious dipping in the vinager, it didn't have much punch. We got a clay pot tofu dish that was OK, but I prefer the same dish at Fu Lam Mum. The one bottom-fried dumpling was only OK.
With the advent of Fey (reported last week), Steam may hold a spot for a casual lunch, and will be good for office workers in the area - and office workers getting a quick bite before heading home. If you think of it as a less-fusion Wagamama, you won't be disappointed.