[Daly City, CA] Koi Palace

[quote=“Chemicalkinetics, post:2, topic:10621”]
Thanks for your review. I love this place. The foods are ranging from good to great, and not overpriced (especially compared to Vancouver and Toronto). [/quote]

Haha, I thought this place was actually expensive compared to Toronto and Vancouver (then again, might be due to my recent visits and the excellent exchange rates for those in the US).

[quote=“Chemicalkinetics, post:2, topic:10621”]
I really like the char siu and the char siu bao (bun), and I like most of the steamed rice rolls. I always love to eat steamed live fishes (usually grouper) for dinner.[/quote]

Yeah they do a good job on those dishes you mentioned. I do recall ordering an Austrlian grouper (or north star grouper?) at least ten years ago and costs a pretty penny at 45 bucks a pound. My dad was staring at the bill blankly for a few moments… oops.

Yeah, price wise, it wasn’t the worst haha. I also agree, the duck set is a pretty nice one since when I order some random fish they tend to be at least 20 or so a pound nowadays and they tend to go up with the better textured fish.

Yeah :frowning: We saw a ten table dinner as we walked out and they had the whole melon.

I honestly haven’t really ordered this dish haha. I’ve seen it the few times I’ve been back in Hong Kong and it was seemed interesting. Just never seemed like the right opportunity to order it. I can’t recall where I’ve read it, possibly it was K K on CH and I think he mentioned that Yum’s or Cooking Papa might serve a rendition, I don’t recall how it turned out though.

I haven’t gone to the Dublin one since it first opened, and I haven’t tried the Milpitas one. Honestly, they’re way too far if I’m like 15 minutes away from the Daly City location haha.

Ha. It may be due to the stronger US dollar recently. When I was there, the exchange rate was around 1 to 1.1. On top of it, Canadian VAT/HST/GST was higher than is San Francisco sale tax. I was referring to restaurants like Lai Wah Heen, Crown Princess…etc. Take Lai Wah Heen for example, shrimp dumplings is $8, pork dumplings (siu mai) is $7, steamed rice roll is $9.5…etc.


As for live seafood, Koi Palace price is pretty normal compare to its neighboring SF restaurants and to NYC restaurants.

Maybe I’m a little guilty of this, but I did enjoy them for the longest time and still order them to this day. I think the quality nowadays seems to be lower than the previous decade but among the Cantonese dim sum parlors they still do a good job. The crab one that I ordered maybe once a year was delicious and had that sweet crab taste from the dungeness crab, though I do think it has gone down within the past three years. With regards to the other dim sum places that have XLB, I haven’t touched Yank Sing’s version of the XLB for years mainly since I find them exorbitant in pricing and have no access to a business account… I did try Crystal Jade’s version roughly a few months after its initial opening and thought they did a better job than KP but… its pricing was similar to that of Yank Sing.

Ohh! I’ll keep that in mind. I know my aunt really enjoyed the one at Joe’s Shanghai and still raves about it, but I did not like it when I had it. Thought it was too greasy, large, and to my shock and horror possibly a little too soupy.

Woah thanks for the recommendations. I rarely venture south of San Mateo for food, but will keep an eye out if I’m in the area. As for Shanghai dumpling shop, this is the one in Milbrae correct?

I actually really like Koi’s version of their Abalone and Smoked Ham dumpling soup (replaced their shark fin soup dumpling). Similar to a mini buddha jumps over the wall. Way before the shark fin ban, I liked the Shark Fin soup dumpling at New Asia.

Though I don’t think they’re the worst ones ever, I always wondered about the statement that because its only a Cantonese restaurant that you would not expect a good XLB. Not to dwell on the place of origin, but there were quite a bit of immigrants from the Shanghai region that did immigrate to Hong Kong in the past (and last I recall, the chef at KP as from HK). I figure there would be some incorporation of skill in regards to the XLB. I’m guessing maybe this might be a matter of taste as chemicalkinetics later alluded to (e.g. his McDonald and In & Out example).

Ooof yeah 1:1.1 is on the high end. When I last went felt like a 15-20% off haha. I haven’t tried lai wah heen though I’ve been meaning to last time I was in Toronto with the folks. Tried Crown Princess though and thought it was okay. I was more awed by the decorations than anything else. In Toronto, I liked Skyview for their dim sum and char siu a lot more. Maple Yip and O’Mei were delicious for dinner. Do you have any other recommendations in that area? I’ve been meaning to go back to Toronto soon.

Hm that is true, I’ve noticed that local restaurants seem pretty much on par nowadays. I’ve had pretty good steamed grouper at HK Flower Lounge last time I went and prices seem on par with Koi. I wonder if its due to less exotic selection at KP nowadays.

I don’t dispute the fact that you can get good XLB at a Cantonese dim sum place; Yank Sing has excellent XLB. They are a relatively new addition to dim sum menus, however. Twenty-five years ago, when I launched a massive search for xiao long bao in SF after my XLB epiphany in Shanghai, there were only three places that had the dish: the grandiose Wu Kong in the space that now houses Yank Sing, the Taiwanese-owned Fountain Court at 5th and Clement, and a hole-in-the-wall at 32nd and Clement, Shanghai King (which had the best). I spent three months in Hong Kong in 1997, and don’t recall a single instance of XLB being served at a Cantonese dim sum place, though I found it at several Shanghainese restaurants. There was a definite segregation of cuisines then which may have since lessened (there as well as here). The lack of xiao long bao on dim sum menus may have been due more to lack of familiarity or demand. It’s worth noting that San Francisco’s Cantonese population (unlike Vancouver’s or Toronto’s) historically came directly from Guangdong without a sojourn in Hong Kong, which might reflect of tastes as well as acquired skills.

To be fair, my one experience with XLB at Koi Palace was at least 15 years ago at dinner (I never ordered it at dim sum). I lifted one dumpling with my chopsticks, the skin broke, and a round ball of meat that looked like the inside of a golf ball fell out, bounced (I kid you not), and rolled off the table.


I agree they’ do a good job for a dim sum restaurant, and even better than most shanghainese places. The filling quality is still very good, but the skins are no longer formed by hand.

Most people suggest that what is sold at Joe’s Shanghai in NYC is some other kind of dumpling, like a New York Style soup dumpling, not a shanghai XLB. It has to be considered on its own, I think, because its tasty when you want something that big and soupy.

Yes! Sorry we don’t overlap much - I don’t go south of rte 237 into sunnyvale too much. I’m sure if you ask here about the XLB shops in the city, you’ll get an earful.

Hey, nothing to be guilty of. Plenty people like Koi Palace soup dumplings still. Yeah, a lot of people love Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings. I like them too. I agree with you that Joe’s Shanghai ones are more greasy/gelatin like. The taste is more intense. I find Shanghai Cafe (喬家柵) ones to be lighter and not as intense. However, I find Shanghai Cafe crab roe soup dumplings to be more flavorful, the warping/skin to be more intact. Joe’s Shanghai soup dumpling skin is often broken.

[quote]I actually really like Koi’s version of their Abalone and Smoked Ham dumpling soup [/quote] I actually don’t love it. :slight_smile: I think I like the similar versions from Tai Wu and from The Kitchen, but maybe my memory is not that good.

Not really. You probably have been to more. Actually of the few I have tried, I liked Crown Princess the best because I thought it has the right balance of price and for quality. I thought Lai Wah Heen was expensive, but not better. Then, I was also told Lai Wah Heen is the best, so…

By the way, in disclosure: Although I enjoy Shanghai soup dumplings, I am not the expert here. They are not my most favor Chinese dim sum. I know people will wait for 1-2 hours for a good soup dumplings like Din Tai Fung and others. I don’t like soup dumplings enough to do that.

My wife has a story from a coworker from Hong Kong who had a work group lunch at Koi Palace years ago. He did the ordering for the group and inquired about live seafood. The server suggested ‘East Star’ grouper/ Australian coral grouper. He asked about the price, and the server said something like $100/lb. He looked at his boss, and the boss just shaked his head. So, no fish.

I’ve yet to splurge on one of these $100/lb deep sea varieties. I hope your dad at least enjoyed the grouper before seeing the bill.

A very long time ago, I took Mom and Dad to Lai Ching Heen for lunch well before it was renamed Yan Toh Heen. Of course a steamed fish would be lunch’s highlight. We were offered the kitchen’s choice of pink garoupa as the day’s best of various weights; no question – bring her the largest. She heard the variables and constant and didn’t do the arithmetic among the choices, because at that point it was a rounding error.

I suppose I am one of the CH people who has raved about their XLB in the past. I will say that I have had very satisfying XLB at Koi Palace and I have also been to Shanghai and had lots of good XLB there too so I have a basis for comparison. That being said my observations have been that: 1) Like many restaurants QC can be an issue at Koi Palace. You can sometimes order the same thing as last time and it ends up being not as good as the last visit and vice versa. 2) In general it’s my observation that there has been a decline in the quality of the XLB and other items since the association with Martin Yan. Dragon Beaux -their joint restaurant in the city is kind of meh when i’ve been there-been there twice and not in a while.

We haven’t been to KP since the spring when we ordered Crab roe XLB and I thought they were decent enough but seemed indistinguishable to me from normal XLB-no satisfying crab taste like in the past. Similar to what the OP described.

Regarding the Pomelo skin dish, we had it at a restaurant in Hong Kong (Fu xing?) and it was jaw-droppingly delicious. Completeness blew us away. I can attest that when done right it’s out of this world. The texture of the pomelo skin was sublime. It absorbs the flavors of the stock its cooked it in so the quality is very dependent on how good the broth is.

Greetings from Asbury Park.

Don’t know about palaces, but here is a sick Jersey koi recently found in the back bays of the Shrewsbury river for you:

Phto credt @corvette_johnny 's uncle.

@NotJrvedivici will need to plan a visit to Bagdahd btb, since it’s rumored his spirit animal is wayward koi (I think he has this tattooed on his ankle). I understand he may have a few Koi palaces to visit.

As a former defensive lineman that ankle tat should help him with introductions.

Don’t be coy Viking, you know it’s a tramp stamp.

Yeah that’s true. Do you recall them ever at Harbor Village? I can only recall them back to the early Yank Sing days for SF.

[quote=“Souperman, post:19, topic:10621”]
It’s worth noting that San Francisco’s Cantonese population (unlike Vancouver’s or Toronto’s) historically came directly from Guangdong without a sojourn in Hong Kong, which might reflect of tastes as well as acquired skills.[/quote]

True it has historically (if we’re talking about the 1800s) come from the Guangdong province but if we’re looking around the late 1950s a majority of them did come from Hong Kong. There were some big Cantonese seafood restaurants that developed in the suburbs later on (I’m thinking HK Flower Lounge) and I don’t recall when about May Flower and Harbor Village. Though I think Vancouver and Toronto received the bulk of HK immigrants right before the handover.

Yikes! I don’t recall them being that bad, but I rarely get them during dinner time (and probably prior to what hyperbowler noted about the non-hand made skins). They seemed consistent.

Probably opening up a can of worms, but what would @Souperman and @bbulkow say is the epitome of XLB? I tend to think DTF would be the gold standard in CA. Relatively small with a thin wrapper that does not break. With a good savory and juicy filling. I’m trying to recall the one I had in Arcadia, and thought maybe there was a touch of sweetness to it (I think I just prefer it straight savory haha).

Wow, I didn’t think that they had such machinery. Wonder if there’s a small home version haha.

The weird thing is, I’ve seen these giant soup dumplings where you can drink from it with a straw. And the one from Joe’s Shanghai didn’t exactly fit that mold. Not sure where to place that category. I recall seeing a picture of a giant soup dumpling at The Bamboo Garden in Milbrae, but I haven’t tried that nor their version of XLB. I’l

Ah makes sense. Yeah pretty much, anything north of San Mateo to SF and a bit of Oakland is where I would predominantly eat. Most far out might be Fremont for Yum’s. Have you ever tried Shanghai Bistro in Newark though? I enjoyed their pan fried dumpling and thought they did a good job on the XLB.

Ha fair enough, though I think Tai Yuan (old Tai Wu in Daly City) does a good job on their dried scallop soup dumpling. I recall getting it a few times in Toronto (Shark fin soup dumpling that is) and wanted a stronger umami taste from their superior stock.

Ah gotcha, I was just going through some of Charles’ list when I went to Toronto. Thought Skyview was very good, give that a try when you’re more towards Richmond Hill.

Oof wow. Yeah I recall seeing it for 100 a pound at Sea Harbour just earlier this year for that Australian coral/East Star (haha whoops not north) grouper.

We enjoyed the fish at that time though I really don’t think it was worth that additional price. Though I think its more of an amusing family story now with my dad being a little speechless.

Oof x_x;

Oh that’s very true, though I think Koi’s held up pretty well in terms of consistency. There wasn’t a big drop in quality that made me go I’ll never come back here (mostly the price keeps me away haha).

I felt Dragon Beaux was a little more of a modern take versus the more classical dim sum found at KP. I thought they did an okay job but still prefer KP more.

Wow I definitely want to order a version in HK when I have the chance!

_> I wonder how they taste…

I think you’d enjoy this:

Oh dear… lol. Thanks for the link. This’ll take a while to read through.

I’m pretty sure they had them at Harbor Village, but not positive. As for “early Yank Sing days” do you mean 1958 (Broadway & Powell), 1962 (Broadway and Stockton), 1974 (Stevenson St.), 1980 (Battery St.) or 2001 (Rincon Center)? :slight_smile:

Really interesting. Do you know the name of dish? I’m interested in trying it!

Great review! Thanks for posting!

Well carp/koi really pick up the flavors of the water they live in so around here that would be a combination of brackish salt marsh combined with lawn run off, agricultural waste, benzenes, dioxins and other assorted chemicals that are leaching from the shallow water table.

Think Sacramento Delta run off right before it hits the bay and you will be close.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold