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Melanie Wong | Dec 11, 201908:24 PM    

Whenever asked what to order in advance for a special occasion at Royal Feast in Millbrae, my standard answer is always going to be to put yourselves in Master Chef Zhongyi Liu's hands and let him suggest a menu that fits your budget. For my birthday last year (April 2018), 11 guests enjoyed 15 courses and 12.5 bottles of older wines, each with a story to tell. The cost was $55 per person, including tax and service. That's not much more than the tab ordering favorites ala carte, yet with the set menu, the more detailed presentation, better dinnerware, and wider variety in the semi-private room make for a much more special meal.

The party started with a round of bubbly and a toast. Coincidentally the gilt metalwork of the room divider matched the art nouveau motif of the 2002 Renaudin "L'Espiegle" Premier Cru Champagne label!

Cold appetizers were plated in individual servings. Top row, L to R: Second sister's diced rabbit, Royal signature eggplant salad, Duck web in mustard sauce. Bottom row, L to R: Sweet and sour shrimp, Okra with sesame paste, Dry mixed beef tendon

Mixed seafood with two sheets (liang zhang pi), Beijing-style, showed off beautiful, intricate knife work. This was a luxurious version with sea cucumber (strips arrayed along the rim), scallops, and shrimp.

Spicy and sour squid eggs soup was rather homely but a bracing spectrum of seasoning contrasting with the delicate brininess of the sea.

Braised abalone with four delicacies is one of my favorite dishes on Royal Feast's aristocratic cuisine menu, and I've probably ordered it just about every dinner I've enjoyed here. This was served in individual portions in warm bowls.

Kung pao lobster is another of my favorites. Any time I can assemble three or more at the table, we'll order one of the two-to-three pound giants in this spicy prep.

Sichuan poached beef in chili oil (shuizhu niu rou) aka water-boiled beef was presented individually in a more finessed and less fiery mode. I enjoyed dipping the plain rice noodles into the spicy beef juices tsukemen style.

Sautéed mix veggie delight combining okra, Chinese yam, red pepper, asparagus and black moss is a dish I've ordered from the menu once before. The element of surprise for this banquet was the molded single servings presented in a dark mossy cloud.

For the Eight treasures duck, I'd arranged for an organic Liberty duck delivery from Petaluma. But I forgot to specify that I wanted a duck with head and feet, so this one fell a little short in the presentation. Still delicious, though the breast meat was a bit on the dry side. (The next time I arranged for Chef Liu to cook a Liberty Duck, it was perfect. Guess practice with the same source counts.)

Black bass fillet in tomato soup was accompanied by a golden brown mantou. That little bit of extra texture and richness from deep-frying was a great foil for the bright and light personality of the soup.

For a sweet ending, Caramelized fried Chinese yams, that I paired with 1995 Baumard Quarts de Chaume.

1998 Zind-Humbrecht "Clos St Urbain" Grand Cru Rangen de Thai Riesling and 1997 Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Gewurztraminer.

2013 Joseph Swan Vineyards "Cuvee Kent" Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc and 2004 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese.

2003 Robert Weil Rheingau Riesling Spätlese and 2002 Baron Knyphausen Kiedricher Sandgrub Riesling Spätlese.

2003 Osoyoos-Larose Okanagan Valley Red Wine, 1995 Rocche dei Manzoni Barolo and 1995 Joseph Swan Vineyards "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Royal Feast
148 El Camino Real
Millbrae, CA
(650) 692-3388

Royal Feast
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