Palace Feast

Don't miss the suckling pig or the drunken chicken, but skip the dim sum

I'm also perplexed that, when we were specifically asked if we wanted rice when we ordered, it takes three requests for it to eventually be brought to the table, in little individual lidded bowls. And I wish we were offered our choice of the eight different complimentary teas, though the jasmine that's brought unasked to the table is fragrant indeed.

Even after the duck, chicken, and pig, my father says that his favorite dish is the gailan. The subtly glazed stalks are fresh, tender, and have an elusive flavor of the sweetest possible asparagus. The squab never made it to the table; we still have plenty left over to take home, in see-through plastic lidded containers that are brought to the table (they're microwaveable, a nice touch). Another nice touch are the orange slices and firm little mango puddings brought to the table, gratis.

Koi Palace has a triple subhead — Dim Sum, Seafood, Tea House — (they only offer a few dim sum, steamed buns and dumplings, at dinner), so I return with two girlfriends for a dim sum lunch. We're handed a numbered paper ticket that reassuringly tells us that there are only three parties waiting ahead of us, and we're seated quickly. I'm told on weekends that wait can be an hour. We're squeezed around a table meant for two.

The piscine temptations are awaiting their fate.
Angela Poole
The piscine temptations are awaiting their fate.

Location Info

Map

Koi Palace

365 Gellert
Daly City, CA 94015

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Daly City

Details

Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open for dinner daily from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Reservations accepted for dinner. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: free lot. Noise level: moderate to high.

Peking duck $24 with minced meat in lettuce cups $36

Drunken chicken $12 small $24 big

Suckling pig $15, $35, $50, $65

Ginger-scallion crab $26

Chinese broccoli $12

Shanghai steamed dumpling $3.50 for four, $6.90 for 10

Shrimp har gow $4.20 for four

Koi Palace, Serramonte Plaza, 375 Gellert (at Hickey), Daly City, 650-992-9000, www.koipalace.com.

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We're not permitted to order from a paper menu that lists dozens of dishes, with places for checks besides them. Some dishes are available sporadically; others are sold out. By the time I convince a waiter to take a full order, my friends are already stuffed with the dishes we've randomly chosen. The women who emerge from the kitchen bearing laden trays point to the dish's name on the menu if it's unfamiliar to us.

We try big custardy squares of lightly fried tofu, fat little steamed pork dumplings with an almost bready exterior, a plate of sweet-glazed barbecued pork, shrimp har gaw glowing pink through translucent skin, and Shanghai steamed dumplings thoughtfully served in little silver paper cups, so you won't lose a drop of the magical broth, which is what makes them special. When I ask for spinach shrimp dumplings, we're brought ones stuffed with spinach, chicken, and pork, instead. And they've already run out of don tat, the little egg custard tarts. I ask for cocoa-banana custard, but settle for mango puddings, again (and this time they're not free!). We should have grabbed the thousand-layered cake or the sugar egg puffs when they went by.

I'm not nearly as impressed by the dim sum as I was by our dinner.

What really impresses me is how alluring Koi Palace has become to me, more so than the dozens of places much closer to where I live. Despite the few service glitches — some of which I chalk up to the place being completely full on both occasions — I'm ready to assemble an even larger group and return posthaste.

I want some crispy golden frog and some more suckling pig.

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