Monday, June 9, 2014

Koi Palace Daly City

In chat rooms, food blogs, and local newspapers the question of the best dim sum in the area (really in any food centric city) is always hotly debated. When our guests were looking for yum cha treats we headed to the internet and though many places came up repeatedly Koi Palace had, by far, the most enthusiastic reviews from posters, food critics, magazines, and newspapers. As with most really good Chinese food it is a bit off the beaten path (at least the city center beaten path). We set out to take on the adventure and were well rewarded.
 Koi Palace is a massive food hall with a seemingly endless line of eaters waiting for tables. Glancing around the waiting crowd our shining white faces were very much in the minority. Many of the restaurant's transactions are conducted in Chinese and most of the women carrying trays or pushing carts speak only enough English to vaguely describe the dish they are offering. Language barrier aside (there are sever waiter captains who circle the room with a good command of English and take orders for menu only items such as this extravaganza of crab dumplings and fried dungeness legs) the din of happy crowds, clacking chopsticks and teacups makes it virtually impossible to hear so everyone is pretty much in the same boat.
We happily said yes to just about everything that walked by and every dish was well executed and a few -- like the crispy Chinese bacon served room temperature with a mild mustard dipping sauce made it worth the hour and a half drive and the wait. I'd drive down again for that.
 Other than the gluttony it inspires my problem with dim sum (or really self control) is that I am always looking for something new. I don't want to give up any often dishes I love (congee, sticky rice "Chinese tamales", shrimp and spinach dumplings, etc) but I always feel -- or fear -- there is something special, something unknown being left untasted. On a whim, ordering off the menu we asked for lamb buns in clay pot having no idea what to expect. We got steaming hot, pan crisped soft white bread surrounding a small but well seasoned lamb meatball. As they are brought to the table our served pourer what I think may have been with sweet vinegar or rice wine onto the piping hot clay dish lending a pleasant sweetness to the doughy buns.
Something new in a new place I already can't wait to try again.

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