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Quick reviews of Cosmopolitan Cafe, Rubicon, Four Seas, Rotunda, Su Hong Palo Alto

Vincent | Feb 17, 200409:08 PM

Went to Cosmopolitan Cafe last month, taking advantage of their Dine-About-Town promotion in the city. The lean blue-nosed white fish entree was done flawlessly, in terms of quality of the fish, the degree of being cooked, and the overall taste. I'm usually very picky about eating fish outside, because most of the time I do it better myself at home. =) The entire place is gorgeous and modern- and upscale-looking.

Grade: A (A: Excellent, B: Good, C: Average, D: Below Average, E: Barely Edible)

And then the dinner at Rubicon on Valentine's Day. There were a couple dishes (cauliflower puree with leek as soup, scallops, prawns, and lobster cooked together as appetizer/small dish) that could have been a little warmer. They weren't cold enough for me to send them back though, but our polite-sounding server didn't offer any help when I voiced. He really could have asked if I would like him to send the dishes back to the kitchen. We shared a grass-fed sirloin for two. I thought it was excellent, but JB felt it was not too flavorful. I did warm JB that grass-fed beef was going to be leaner and less marbled than conventional beef with corn as feed for the cows.

Rubicon is upscale and sort of formal-looking, but I felt the tables were spaced a little too close to one another. The place got uncomfortably warm, presumably from the heat rising from downstairs.

Grade: B

I read about Four Seas in Chinatown being a good dim sum restaurant. I immediately got suspicious since the restaurant is right in the middle of Chinatown, but I was too eager to find a cheaper alternative to Yank Sing, which always costs us $30-40 a person (with no alcohol!). The place was very old (not in a good way) and traditional-looking, and worse, it looked very touristy. I ordered a $7 green tea cocktail, which was too sour, had too little alcohol, and was simply too small. They have an extensive cocktail menu, and so it looks like the owner knows how to make money. Dim sum was not good, though not inedible. Prawns in "har gau" tasted and looked strange. Too much dough in many of the dim sum dishes. The spare ribs tasted funny, which meant low-quality pork. There were few deep-fried items offered; in fact we didn't have any. The radish/turnip cake had nothing in it (no Chinese sausage, etc.)! I haven't had such bad dim sum for many years. Don't ever go there.

Grade: D+ (the plus sign because of an okay beef chow fun)

Rotunda on top of the Nieman Marcus store in the city. Now that's beautiful-looking and -tasting food. Absolutely wonderful decor looking four stories over the busy streets outside. This is what I want my Californian food to be. The pasta sauce for the lobster was too thick and not warm enough. Slightly disappointing desserts.

Grade: B+

Su Hong Palo Alto. Ten years ago our taekwondo group would often go to Su Hong Menlo Park on Friday nights. It was more upscale-looking than most Chinese restaurants, thanks to its renovation, and it wasn't too expensive ($10 a person). To me, it was a good Americanized Chinese restaurant. It was good food, but definitely not a place I would suggest going. They have a restaurant in Palo Alto as well, on El Camino Way behind Fuki Sushi. I went there a few years ago. The place wasn't as nice as the one in Menlo Park, and the food was unremarkable. However, lately I've heard a lot of good things about Su Hong Palo Alto. I've seen their ads about their specialty "shaolongbao," the dumplings with pork and broth inside. I got curious because most Chinese restaurants don't make this Shanghainese dish from scratch, and so the dumplings never have any decent broth inside. I went there last Friday with JD, and omigod, the food was phenomenal. The shaolongbao was better than many places in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Their other specialty spare ribs came in an extremely hot clay pot, and the pork was very well done, though my parents might have preferred less lean pork. We also had a soy beans cooked with soy skins, and the broth was just a touch too thick for my taste, but the dish was very good nonetheless. If you have been looking for a better and cheaper alternative to Jai Yun, you must go to Su Hong Palo Alto. Its food is really outstanding.

Grade: A


P.S. A Chinese restaurant owner told me a good Chinese restaurant in the city is River Side, at Vicente and 23rd in Sunset. However, another Chinese chef told me the food isn't that great anymore because the main chef there retired. I went there once years ago, and had fond memories. Anyone been there lately?

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