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Seafood Harbor (Millbrae) Eliminated from Dim Sum Challenge

Melanie Wong | Apr 21, 200310:10 PM

On a busy holiday weekend, I accompanied the North team for a visit to Seafood Harbor. Because we had a couple stragglers, we passed over some of the first offerings coming out of the kitchen while we waited. Later, this was to contribute to its downfall.

Items that were only average and not top notch included steamed black bean spare ribs that were tasty but too chewy and gristled, bbq pork rolls had wonderfully flaky pastry but the filling had an odd fishy off-flavor, braised chicken feet were ordinary, and fried sesame balls for dessert were too doughy inside. Siu mai were juicy and tasty but a little too chewy. Teochew fun gor dumplings were good, but a little on the thick side and could have used more peanuts inside.

Remaining items were all very good to excellent. Two of the best items that have made Seafood Harbor one of my favorite tea houses over the years were the deep-fried taro dumplings with more tasty filling than most and expertly fried with a greaseless and delicately lacy exterior and the sharks fin dumpling in double boiled soup, clean and light yet still intensely flavored. The xiao long bao here were the best we’ve had at any of the Cantonese dim sum houses. Other standouts were the shrimp rice noodle crepes with a bit of cilantro in the filling, crackly deep-fried tofu skins filled with shrimp, delicate scallop and shrimp dumplings, deep and flavorful braised tofu skin rolls, har gow, pan-fried chive dumplings with a thin chewy/crisp wrapper and a mild chive and pork filling, and richly eggy custard tarts made with a butter cookie crust.

Overall, the food made a strong showing. Seafood Harbor would have been a contender if not for some service problems. Having missed the first round of dishes, we expected to see them come around again. But there were some long delays in carts appearing from the kitchen and less diversity than would be expected early on a busy weekend. After ordering some items from a waiter, we were first told to wait for the next cart and later when none appeared, we were able to get some but not all directly from the kitchen. The kitchen seemed unable to keep up with the demand and lost points.

Still, this supply issue is hopefully a one-off, and for the patient, the food is well worth it. The style strikes a happy medium between the refined delicacy of Harbor Village and the more robust flavors of Koi Palace, in my opinion. The crowds here are not as fierce as its two neighbors in Millbrae making it a good bet at busy times


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