Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant, 1001 Story Road, San Jose
This was the final stop in a dizzying South Bay Limsterfest event that encompassed 10 or so stops, counting all the grocery stores, random vendors, and assorted hole-in-the-walls that Lambert guided us to. Kudos to him again for organizing a great day of gustation. My personal highlights were the mochi/manju shop mentioned by Arlenes post earlier today and the breathtaking streetside tamales that Limster and I had for elevenses on the road.
Dynasty is a Hong Kong style palace of the sort much commoner in the South Bay than in San Francisco with South Sea Seafood (Irving @16th) a notable recent exception. Spit-shine newness, giant size and a heavy recent immigrant clientele distinguish these restaurants, price and luxury are a cut above your neighbourhood Cantonese fare though almost all the dishes would be found on both menus. I personally favour the décor (seldom mentioned in a Low End Theory post) at South Sea, the astonishing red façade and poufy fur jackets sported by the female waitrons are really something else. Still, if one is having an enormous wedding reception like two parties at Dynasty on Sunday the surroundings are certainly apropos.
Initially distracted by cheongsam-clad P.Y.T.s from the downstairs wedding I jogged up the staircase after Joel/jaweino, leaving our fellow Chowhounds to take the elevator (note exercise builds appetite, people!). Lambert chose the set dinner for six which by house policy came with complimentary deep-fried quail wouldnt a serving of Quayle be more fitting with the 10-person Happy Family set menu, offering even greater values? In all, it was a good choice with mostly traditional Cantonese favourites:
BBQ combination platter succulent char siu and jellyfish, meaty duck is a standout.
Dried scallop and chive soup white, sun-deprived chives
Sauteed prawns and scallops with pine nuts laudable texture in the prawns
Cold chicken in empress style boiled, served with oil and finely chopped green onion/garlic. I polished this off at the end.
Peking duck high points for the soft, soft buns
And one somewhat left-field dish, very lightly smoked sea bass with sweet mayonnaise. A future-minded chowhound should be in two minds about this, the sea bass situation is critical but it was very delicious. Like all Patagonian toothfish dishes it is best avoided, the rest of the menu is excellent after all.
Limster and I agreed that the quail was perhaps the most exceptional dish on the table. This tiny bird is frequently overcooked and tough, but somehow this version maintained its juiciness. A little salt and Szechuan peppercorn for dipping tasty.
Red bean soup to finish which was almost spoiled by the tremendous dou fu fa (soft tofu) we had enjoyed earlier. On balance, a fun bit of escapism for the S.F. dweller and an excellent choice for the South Bay chowhound with celebrating in mind. Price performance is really great, we ate for $20/each which given the swanky ambience was unexpected. Youll get more bang for the buck at board standbys such as Best Panda or Jumbo (servings were somewhat dainty, I could have eaten a banh mi and tapioca drink afterward) but you wont feel like so much of a high-roller.
Low End Theory