Koi Palace (鯉魚門御膳茶寮) is one of the Bay Area’s most well known higher end dim sum restaurants frequented by immigrant crowds. There are actually two of them, one in Dublin (on the outer fringes of East Bay, and the original in Daly City, south of San Francisco. It’s quite popular, so expect a wait get in for brunch during the weekends.
Tim Ho Wan is often billboarded as the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. Its chef-owner, Mak Kwai Pui, is a former head chef of a famous Hong Kong hotel. In 2010, he established the first Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok, which has since grown into a venerable restaurant chain, with 5 branches in Hong Kong (the most well-known of which is in Sham Shui Po), not to mention other Asian cities, like Singapore and Manila.
Mongkok Dim Sum (旺閣點心) is really just for quick pick dim sum. San Francisco has quite a lot of them, more so than LA, places whose sole business model is to serving large-scale to-go dim sum. In LA, dim sum is typically only found at Cantonese or Teochew seafood restaurants. I give Mongkok a lukewarm recommendation, only because it fulfilled its duty: getting us full.
This is one of those places where parallel parking skills are helpful, because the parking lot was completely packed at peak hours. The principal got us in without much hassle, even though there was a line of people waiting to be seated, probably because of his connections or something.
Anyway, it was so long ago and I already forgot what the food was like, so why bother. I’ll just inundate this blog with food pics.
Everything was good and pretty cheap. But no cart ladies here, orders are made by paper.
(The second time we had brunch here with the principal, we unintentionally ordered an enormous amount that could probably feed a small village. Just imagine stacks and stacks of dim sum dishes piled up high on the lazy susan.)
Address: 1001 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755 | Yelp
Over winter break, I grabbed some dim sum with two of my high school friends to catch up, as part of our yum cha tradition, since we rarely see each other nowadays. This time, we decided to forgo our usual choice, New Capital Seafood, for a new restaurant, 888 Seafood, also on Valley Blvd about two miles to the east.
It was my first time there, and what struck me immediately was how gaudy the restaurant is. I suppose it makes a good place for Chinese banquet dinners.
I think their motto for chandeliers was “the more the better.” The entire ceiling was riddled with chandeliers. To add to the excess, the obligatory double happiness sign (囍) was on both ends of the restaurant, to accommodate two wedding banquets once.
As a side note, I apologize for butchering all the Cantonese spellings.
I forgot to tell the waiter in advance to serve chrysanthemum tea, so he gave us the default, wulong tea (烏龍茶).
We started off with some of the obligatory staple dishes (clockwise from upper left):
Cha siu bao (叉燒包): cha siu pork-filled buns (a little too moist),
Ha gao (蝦餃): shrimp dumplings in translucent skins,
Shrimp cheong fen (蝦米腸粉): rice noodle rolls with shrimp (well done),
Siu mai (燒賣): shrimp and pork dumplings.
Pineapple bun (菠蘿包): Perfection. I liked that the pineapple custard inside wasn’t completely pureed. There were one or two pineapple slices in the custard to vary the texture. A nice surprise. 🙂 Also, the crust didn’t just flake and crack into bits when I bit into it.
Barbeque pork puffs (叉燒酥): I think fried things are hard to mess up.
Xiaolong bao (小籠包): Pork meat inside tasted sour and not at its freshest. The soup juice tasted sour too, even without the vinegar. This was my least favorite out of all the dishes. I don’t think it’s a smart idea ordering xiaolong bao at dim sum restaurants, because it’s usually nasty-tasting.
The egg tarts are ridiculously pint-sized, so I decided not to get any. The total bill came out to be $25, mentally calculated by a server in his head. We checked his math to be sure. Unlike at New Capital, where each dish costs the same, dim sum here comes at different pricing tiers.
888 Seafood is definitely pricier than New Capital, with fewer selections in my opinion. We saw the same cart ladies over and over. And I didn’t see any long and fried donuts/youtiao (油條/油炸粿), red bean cake (紅豆糕), or even sticky rice in lotus leaf (糯米雞). Mmm, pork lard.
Address: 8450 E Valley Blvd Ste 121, Rosemead, CA 91770 | Yelp
P.S. I think I’m going to write less for resto reviews now and focus more on the pictures and the dining experience. I feel like my ratings can be arbitrary because no two places are alike.
New Hwang Kok
5/16/2010 – NorCal trip with VSU and it was the morning before leaving, my friends wanted dimsum and this is where I always go for to go dimsum when we don’t want the hassle of having to go to a sit down place. Sometimes it’s really packed and it’s like a mini Chinese supermarket but the day I went was okay and we ordered 2 portions of bbq pork buns, 2 portions of xiu mai, 2 portions of har gow, 2 portions of chicken feet, and a portion of meat cakes that totaled to be around $20. It’s really cheap and so good, my friends were impressed. I love all their food because they so good and always fresh and piping hot.