I feel Koi Palace is a pretty well known restaurant by now (has it really been around for over two decades?) and I haven’t really seen much feedback these few years. It feels like an institution and often not really thought about or really reviewed.
Nevertheless, an advertisement caught my eye as we were finishing up dim sum.
The idea of winter melon soup always appealed to me though I rarely ever have the whole item double boiled. Nevertheless with family we tried out the Summer Set menu for a table of five and opted for the weekday version (A slight price discount).
Starting off the meal, we had the Maine lobster and fresh fruit salad. Quite light on the mayo-like sauce really allowed me to enjoy this dish. The fruits were refreshing and the lobster meat wasn’t overcooked.
Following that, the roasted suckling pig came out. Very nice crackling skin, and pretty moist meat. Surprise was the marinated soy beans. I think they do a good job at KP, but I can’t really rank it around the bay area (nevermind elsewhere) since I rarely order the dish.
Initially when I saw this dish, I couldn’t figure out what we had ordered. Turns out these were the lightly fried maitake mushrooms with garlic chips. A surprising favorite giving its uh… unique look. There was this intense morels-like taste to them and the sauce was similar to a sweet honey sauce, which went very well with the maitake mushrooms.
Following those appetizers, the shanghai crab roe dumpling brought a nice touch of hot broth to the mix. I couldn’t really detect the crab roe flavor, but the dumplings itself had good porky taste to them.
Ah the star of the show…
This wasn’t what I quite envisioned for the wintermelon soup, as I expected a larger melon with all the soup inside it. Nevertheless, the soup was quite delicious. I think I’d still give a nod to Yum’s Bistro version as they actually include a notable chunk of dungeness crab.
Probably the most disappointing main dish we encountered at KP. The pomelo pretty much fell apart and didn’t really seem to have any flavor (probably soaked it too long in water and not superior stock?). The sauce was great, just the texture wasn’t quite there for me. The goose webs were okay, though I’m not a fan of these so not a good judge.
Next up, was this tempura shrimp wrapped with a shrimp paste mixture and then encrusted with corn and finally deep fried. Very tasty. The exterior didn’t have a ton of extra batter, and the corn gave off a nice sweet taste along with the crunch. The interior shrimp paste gave a pleasant soft juicy texture, and the surprise of an intact firm shrimp gave one more final texture change.
To finish up our meal, we had a mixed seafood over vermicelli with fish soup. I very much enjoyed our carb item of the night; the vermicelli absorbed the soup and had enough bounce so it wasn’t a mushy pile of noodles. The cilantro and green onions gave a good aromatic fragrance mixed with the seafood (shrimp, scallops, and squid/cuttlefish).
Onto dessert! First off was the soft tofu with a ginger sugar syrup. Not exactly part of the summer set, but a nice light dish. Tofu was silky and quite enjoyable .
I was way too full from eating and its really not my thing, but my folks enjoyed the egg custard. Its pretty much the one you have from lunch.
To cap off the desserts, we have this… peach resin syrup with lotus seeds. I’m not a big traditional dessert person, so I must admit, this was the first time I’ve tried this item. Nevertheless, I was not a fan. The dessert had a thick mouthfeel, however it was not super flavorful (lightly sweet). Felt like I was eating very lightly flavored knox gelatin. I couldn’t quite get a hint of peach (though I suppose it was technically just the resin from the tree). The snow fungus also amplified the gelatinous nature of everything.
Overall though, I think Koi Palace still crafts a very good dinner especially this summer set. I’d probably be just happy with that soft tofu pudding and opt for a steamed fish somewhere in the meal, but cannot complain. I do enjoy breakfast dim sum (we only eat right when it opens, otherwise… we are not waiting in line). Once in a blue moon, we also go to KP and enjoy their peking duck dinner. Their steamed catch of the day can be well anything, as we had an eel, sea bass, and just regular bass. Nevertheless, its still steamed just right. All in all, KP still has a nice (if not expensive) touch in having a tasty meal.