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San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday morning at Koi Palace

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Sunday morning at Koi Palace

gordon wing | Apr 17, 2005 05:55 PM

Went for my first visit to Koi Palace this morning .... showed up at 10am - hoping that it'd be early enough to get in on the first seating but it was still a 35-40 minute wait. The scene at the front desk was impressive - our friends who are relatively new to dim sum were mesmirized by the illuminated fish tanks, the constant stream of folks coming and going, the Chinese game show videos being shown on a wall mounted large screen monitor and just the general high level of energy.

Our number finally came up and we were led to a table on the perimeter away from the large central room - it was quieter and a brighter. Holding a conversation was not too difficult. The first thing I noticed was that they use the metal tea pots with a tea light holder - a nice touch except that the pot doesn't seem to pour very well....it poured very sluggishly even though it was at least 60% full. We were having the pu'er/chrysanthemum blend and maybe the flower petals were clogging the pour spout? It was interesting - even when the pot was full the tea was quite dark - although not bitter. Added water several times, expecting the color/strength to diminish but that never happened. Service was generally good/responsive. The flow of food was very impressive - a mix of people presenting hand held trays of food and the more standard cart service. The food was very fresh and there was an impressive variety. We ended up with 15 different items.
The suckling pig was very skillfully prepared: perfectly crackling skin with no fat layer and moist well seasoned meat....on a bed of soy beans. The fried items were exemplary - crisp and grease free.....S&P squid, sesame balls, shrimp & banana roll, shrimp in bean curd skin and the wonderful taro/pork balls. The mock duck/beancurd skin was a favorite with a couple of folks - I didn't like it as much as they did - I remember Wu Kong's version and this is not in that league. Spare ribs/black bean were tender and well seasoned. We liked this purse made from rice flour and stuffed with whole shrimp & scallop - the bottom was pan fried to give it some crunch and another layer of complexity. Finished with the tofu flower and ginger syrup - the syrup had a more assertive ginger flavor than others where the syrup is more sweet than gingery. There were a few other items but I didn't keep good notes.... All the different fillings were nicely seasoned. Didn't really try some of the standards....har gow, ciao mai.....got distracted by some of the other offerings. 5 of us (one 10 year old boy) - our bill came to $74..... Decided to ask for one box for our leftovers - they brought a reusuable plastic contairner - rectangular in shape and not too deep - so you can put your food in without having to pile it all together in a large heap. One of their plastic bags completed the kit. A very nice outing, all in all.
On the way out it had gotten even busier - definitely not a good idea to get there at noon. Next time we'll come a bit earlier and give a call en route. I knew we could but I thought 10 am might be early enough and that the wait would be part of the experience - also ensuring that we were plenty hungry - it worked.

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