Restaurants & Bars 5

Grandview, Burlingame

Melanie Wong | Aug 6, 2004 04:26 AM

Last week Julie and I stopped by Grandview to see if it might work for her family reunion. This was a first time for each of us. One of the owners, Mrs. Tien showed us around - two small private dining rooms (one with two couches) and how the main room could be configured for a large group. We decided to stay for lunch to sample some of the cuisine. Her son, Jack Tien, helped us select from the extensive small dish and noodle menu. He tended to recommend the Shanghainese dishes as the specialty of the house, yet, after various discussions on this board about the Hubei cooking, I had to pick at least one of those dishes too.

We started with the Shanghai smoked fish, $4.95, which Jack had recommended highly. I had told him that I often disliked this dish because the fish was often dried out, stringy and woody. He said this was a softer version, made with rock cod, and promised I’d like it. Shown on the left, we’d eaten half of the plate before I remembered I had a camera in my purse. (g) We did indeed like it. The pieces were cut across the grain, so that they stayed softer after wok-roasting. The saucing was nicely balanced and not overly sweet complimented by the smoky nuances. It was a little hard to eat though due to the random bone fragments.

The next dish out was on the house, Wonton with hot chili sauce, $5.25 (middle). The dumplings were softish in pasta and filling and molded shuttlecock style rather than being folded over. While the red oil looks deadly, it was only medium hot and dominated by roasted sesame oil. It was also fairly sweet, tasting more Shanghainese-y than Sichuan.

Julie’s mom is from Shangxi, not that far from Hubei. When she tasted the next dish, Julie pronounced it her idea of starchy, doughy “comfort food”. She talked about how growing up in Piedmont, her mom’s home cooking was “weird” and so different from the Southern Chinese food available at local restaurants. The Hubei sweet rice cake with pork, $5.25, was overly doughy and bland to me. It suffered coming after the spicy wontons. A chewy core of glutinous rice was encased in a wheat pancake then pan-fried. I liked the second piece a little better as my taste buds adjusted to the blankness of flavor. I asked Julie whether I was supposed to put some chili sauce or other condiment on it, and she shook her head “no”. She liked this much more than I, yet I’m glad I tried it. Once is plenty for me though.

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