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Restaurants & Bars 14

Another Zen Peninsula review

KK | Jul 31, 200401:54 AM

We had passed by this place one time after having lunch at Seafood Harbor. My mom had already eaten at ZP for lunch and was interested in trying them out for dinner, and so we got together and ate here earlier tonight.

As I parked the car I was struggling to remember what this place used to be. My dad had the better memory and long time ago this used to be the Steak Pit. Business must have been really bad for them to close down after so many years.

A very large sized restaurant, though the decor is nowhere near as nice as Koi Palace or Grand Palace in SSF. Saw a few fish tanks that were well stocked in large live prawns, assorted fish, and one tank had HUGE lobsters and literally they were the size of an adult small sized dog.

The English/Chinese menu didn't have a lot that immediately caught our eye, so being the old school picky Cantonese that we are, we ordered mostly from the Chinese only special menu and this was the best choice.

I took the opportunity to ask the captain about the restaurant's origins, and whether they are a direct branch of the one in Hong Kong, and he replied "no". Another typical local Chinese tactic to name a restaurant (or a brand) after something famous from Hong Kong/Asia....something about brand recognition despite the non affiliations. Though the captain did say that the chef was hired from HK (unfortunately no further elaboration of where the chef used to work). There you have it...mystery solved.

On to the dishes:

1) Charcoal grilled pork neck meat - this was on the color menu (chinese) and the chinese text menu only as well. Thinly slice char shiu style looking and tasting roast pork, but this is even more fantastic. The meat was delicate, juicy, flavorful and beat pretty much all of my favorite chinese bbq places for char shiu (though the meat is different). Served in a honey glazed sauce that made it overly sweet, and some finely ground peanuts. I think this was $8 or so but it was superb.

2) Lamb chops in light black pepper based sauce with onions. This was a REAL surprise...very tender and tasty. The captain overheard my dad recite this item from the menu and immediately recommended it and said it is one of their best sellers. This was also on the Chinese specials only menu. If you like lamb you will love this one.

3) 1 pound of "bak cherk" prawns, which is served boiled on the shell with the soy based dipping sauce with chopped peppers. The prawns were way too big, very meaty and steak-like but good flavor. Bak Cherk Ha is supposed to use smaller and more succulent shrimp :-).

4)Soup of the day, or "Lo For" (old fire). Forgot what was inside and it was quite good, but not as nice as the best one from ABC in Foster City. Though it was served in a classic ceramic pot (looked almost like a chinese medicine soup container pot)

5) Chicken...don't have a direct translation for this, but it is also from the Chinese specials menu. The words "green tea" were on it. Very similar to the Cantonese "ja jee" chicken (lightly fried) but it had a great flavor, and very tender and juicy (even the breast meat). $13 for half and $22 for whole if I remember correctly.

6) This was a mish mash of assorted items with beef. I remember celery, carrot, a little bit of bell pepper, and one more ingredient that I forgot. The beef was fantastic texture and taste wise. Might be an aquired taste for some as the ingredients put together were a bit odd ball-ish, but it worked. Also from the specials menu.

7) Stir fried pea sprouts (doh miao) with garlic. Usually a good measure of a Chinese restaurants is a by tasting a typical dish you can get anywhere else and see how it tastes. It was ok but not very flavorful or tasty despite the garlic. This is a hard dish to mess up and unfortunately it wasn't spectacular. Ironically everyone else was wonderful...

It also never hurts to mom asked if there was dessert included, and we were told we'd get some tofu pudding (tofu fa). Then when it came time to get served, we ended up getting hot taro sago (sai mai lo) which was the best I've had in all the good bay area Chinese restaurants (including R&G Lounge, Silver House!) Luckily we spoke up and we also got hooked up with *another* dessert...finally the tofu fa came....not bad but not superb.

A very satisfying time to try their dim sum!

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