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Restaurants & Bars 3

More on Lucky Buddha in San Carlos

KK | Aug 1, 200503:25 PM

This restaurant doesn't get the recognition it deserves!

While Silver House in San Mateo does some great Cantonese food in general, I would say that in terms of variety and innovation (i.e. things you don't see too often in other places), Lucky Buddha does a much better job.

We had a family member visiting over the weekend from Hong Kong and we took him there for dinner.

1) Soup of the day - appears to be a clear beef based broth with vegetables and a touch of Chinese herbs (very little to none). Typical "old fire" soup cooked for a long time so the flavors come out. Very refreshing and light, and not to mention sweet (likely from the carrots).

2) Claypot rice (for 4) with yellow fur chicken (aka free range skinny chicken). This time the rice didn't have that rich baked flavor that it usually does from a clay pot, nor was there much burnt crispy rice from the pot's edge. The red dates in the rice was a little overpowering and gave it more sweetness than it needed. Although the chicken was chopped fine, the bones were plentiful and soft, making each bite a little more difficult (and challenging one's teeth to remove meat from bones and vice versa). However this was still great as leftovers.

3) We wanted some pork dish but was worried about it being too fat (the owner recommended two pork dishes that were fried). I can't remember what the dish we ended up having was called, but it was chicken stir fried. It was a similar texture and tasting chicken in the clay pot rice, so unfortunately less than memorable.

4) On the specials board was a garlic stuffed steamed melon/squash (see gwa). In Chinese the melon was written as "sing gwa" or victory melon. Very rare to have on any menu in a Chinese restaurant (usually they are bitter). It is like a really huge cucumber slice cross section into bite sized pieces, each topped with some garlic and another topic I can't quite remember, then steamed to perfection. The melon/squash was surprisingly sweet and juicy. The chef really knew how to pick his ingredients! A real winner.

5) Steamed fish (old school style with scallion and soy sauce). I don't know what the English name of this fish is, but it is commonly seen in fish tanks at 99 Ranch markets (as well as other larger sized Chinese supermarkets). Chinese name would be "mahng choe". Very well steamed, meat was succulent and not dry or chewy.

6) Eggplant with salted fish and chicken chunks in clay pot. Fantastic dish. Even better than the northern chinese style eggplant claypots with fish sauce or ma por. Reminds me of the common tofu with chicken chunks and salted fish clay pot but way way tastier. I'm not a fan of even grilled/bbq eggplant, but the sauces were completely soaked into this one (salted fish and garlic too). Went really well with rice. Not sure if this was a menu item or not, but it was a repeat order from last time we were there.

7) Last item from the specials board: Steamed tofu in bamboo container. Similar to the "fujian style bamboo container tofu" from Mr. Fongs in Foster City, but this rendition was way better and a huge portion to boot. Top with a thick sauce that had a mix of mushroom, scallion, baby shrimp and other goodness inside. The tofu was soft and mixed very well with the topping.

Even the family member was impressed, though he noted most of the sauces used in the dishes were similar. Other than that, dinner was in his opinion practically the same as in HK (though restaurants in HK would use more creativity in their sauces).

White board specials change from time to time, and are also in Chinese only. The choice items really warranted more repeat visits to this place.

Lucky Buddha
1050 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA
(650) 551-1388

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