Gourmet Village (Reopening) [Milbrae]

Hey everyone,

We went to check out Gourmet Village after its reopening. I personally didn’t think the food was all that great when we went prior to its remodel/change of ownership, but my visits were pretty much the year or so before it closed.

When we arrived for dinner, we noticed that their menu looked relatively basic. There were a few dishes that piqued our interest, but everything seemed somewhat pedestrian (please refer to yelp for the latest menu… I uh tend to forget to take pictures of those things haha… oops).

In any case, there were a few items in the seafood tank that looked good. Two giant ling cods were seen and a rock cod or two. Crab prices seem pretty high (around 40s) so we were going to forgo that option. However, we had a very talkative owner/server that attended to us that night and well, everything he suggested we just went and ordered. Looking at what we ordered and what was on the menu… I think only 1 item was actually from the menu.

To start out our night, we received the tepan/iron plate garlic and honey ribs:

Served on a bed of sauteed red onions, the ribs were quite savory with a hint of sweetness from the honey. The aromas and slight sizzling sound had had a few people craning around to see the entree.

A little out of order, but our next dish was their soup du jour that was black-eyed peas, peanuts, and chicken feet. A nice warming broth on this cold weekend.

Next, our server/owner was describing to us in Cantonese about a geoduck clam (or as best as I can figure out). Price wise, it was 6.95 each, and we initially decided to order one for each of us but as it turns out, there was only one left. The owner suggested to switch to a black bean sauce style dish and they’ll add some shrimp to the dish. We agreed and the jalepeño addition gave the dish a major kick. I frankly quite enjoyed the dish though what was described as a geoduck clam is most likely the pacific razor clam. I found the clam meat to be more soft and a little less chewy than the Atlantic razor clam (I prefer the Atlantic one more). I think the dish would have been solid without the razor clam, though I couldn’t find it on the menu.

Next up we got Chinese cauliflower (I find that they have a pretty good texture and gives a nice firm crunch compared to regular cauliflowers) stir fried with preserved meats (preserved duck, cured pork belly, and Chinese sausages). The fattiness from the preserved meats basically lubricated the cauliflower turning what was possibly a healthy item to something a little more on the unhealthy end… but uh, nevertheless a nice umami bomb.

Lastly, we got the braised rock cod with bitter melon. Usually we would just go with a plain steamed rock cod, but the server suggested this pairing and boy, it was tasty. The fish was cooked quite well and that umami laden sauce goes great over rice. The bitter melon (was still bitter) provided an interesting balance to the savoriness (Kinda like those stuffed bell peppers in dim sum menus I guess).

Ending the meal, we got a nice bowl of red bean soup. Quite hot and not that sweet is the best way I can describe it as I’m not a huge fan.

Overall, I’m very intrigued by Gourmet Village now. We talked with the servers and they do double boiled soups whenver the chef feels like it, but you can order the soup in advance. There wasn’t a definite stated price (depends on which double boiled soup you order) but they do offer small and large versions.

In regards to our off menu selections, they are made by the chef if the kitchen is on the quieter end but… I have no idea what that actually means (there were around 5/6 tables as we were eating around 60% full I guess). Price wise, our meal ended up being around 120 and I found the food quality to be better than our recent menu at Andy’s Restaurant (minus the soup). I’m a little confused about Gourmet Village, but I’ll definitely head back in the near future to check out their double boiled soup and whatever the chef is inspired to create.


I am always up for a good pot of double boiled soup so I’d be interested in your discoveries.

Re: the area around Millbrae, Burlingame- which one of the Cantonese restaurants are best these days? I am interested in settling to a regular Cantonese spot up there. I have not gone regularly to any since moving away from Saigon in Sunnyvale. Dumbarton and preordering often presents a large enough psychological barrier to Yum’s.

Any idea where their chef came from?

There really aren’t too many Cantonese restaurants in Burlingame, only one I can really think is Grand Harbor . To answer your question about Milbrae restaurants… I don’t think I can really answer it. We usually don’t go to one restaurant consistently, just rotate between them and avoid going to one if we felt that the food wasn’t that great. Most of the big named seafood restaurants will typically give you a good food (I won’t touch upon service… haha) but not necessarily great. I think the better question is what dishes does your family usually order and maybe I can help that way?

For my recent dinner visits, in Milbrae, I can only really recall in the past six months heading to the Kitchen once, Hong Kong Flower Lounge, Gourmet Village, and Cheung Hing. Price wise I think Cheung Hing was the lowest, but that’s probably because they don’t really have a large selection of seafood. I recall ordering their set menu (Soup + choose X number of dishes) and I like their soup. The rest of their menu is more simple and traditional; not really high on variety (I also recall the green onion/ginger beef was kinda stringy). HK Flower Lounge I had a pretty good meal, though I don’t think their double boiled soup was really a double boil, more like a slow cooked one. Seafood prices there are higher. The kitchen’s menu hasn’t really changed from before, and for some reason, our family has some difficulty putting together dinner for us three but their cooking was pretty on point. I’ve been meaning to get back and try Tai Wu (their dim sum has improved since their opening day) for dinner.
I haven’t tried Zen Peninsula since last year, but I thought they did a decent execution (they also have giant lobsters those over 6 pound). I do find Koi Palace in Daly City to be relatively consistent (but the few times I go for dinner, I go for the weekday dinners since they offer a better price than the weekends). Tai Yuan (old Tai Wu) in Daly City does a pretty decent dim sum and has a better table availability than Koi, but recently I’ve found their dinner to be a little hit and miss.

No idea on the chef for Gourmet Village, we usually don’t ask that haha… mostly just listen to the waiters talk.

I presume you’re a little south of Milbrae? I recall having a good meal at Cooking Papa’s though the dishes are priced higher than I usually expect.

I was just reading a post on FTC and recall K K mention that Corey Lee dined at Yum’s. I have seen Andy Wai (executive chef at Harbor Village back in the days) there twice when we ate on the rare occasion at Yum’s. I’d definitely say preorder at least once at Yum’s! It helps if you have more people to try different dishes though

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Thanks! I mostly prefer light and delicate. Not very into strong flavors when it comes to Cantonese cooking. So, good soup, good seafood. For example, I adore the yellow feather chicken dish that Bosum Yum does with fish maw and goji berry. That’s my kind of food (even though the chef usually adds way too much salt). Or, to quote once again, the kind of food at Tasting Court.

Andy Wai and his family does like to eat at Yum’s, like, all the time. Occasionally I get to eat the cooking overseen by Andy Wai since he’s now employed by Bon Appetit, but its a rather big waste of talent. I don’t fault him for the stability and good hours offered by corporate cooking though.

Oh right. I keep forgetting Cooking Papa has pre-order food…

Yum’s I have pre-ordered a number of times, though Yum’s is always tough because there really isn’t anything to do around there before or after the meal.

Maybe I will try getting a meal in with these two at the end of the year.

How do you know that? The container?

I’ve yet to try the steamed chicken at Yum’s but I think I’ll give it a shot this upcoming wintertime. I really like their watercress soup that they do at Yum’s (I think I did mention that earlier maybe?) And ha, I wish Tasting Court did a pop-up in SF!

Oh wow. I do recall he was working in either FB or LinkedIn’s cafeteria, but that really does seem a waste of talent.

Yeah, CP has pre-orders as well, though on the occasions that I do go there, I usually just eat lunch.

And yeah, there’s nothing around Yum’s, such an odd location. I mean you could eat the Indian pizza right next door… haha.

Mmm, I just posted something on HK FL. Looking back it does look like a double boiled soup. Just when I was watching them, they just seemed to have ladled the soup into the container (we were right near the entry/exit of the kitchen)

Round 2!

When we first walked in, it was eerily quiet at around 6 but upon closer look 4 large tables were reserved. Whew, not going out of business haha. As we have experienced before, it might just be easier to let the talkative waiter recommend everything. Tonight, he recommended us trying the striped bass cooked two ways. However, this isn’t your typical two way (soup and stir fry) but a more interesting one that I haven’t encountered. Since the chef has a little bit of time (no one was there), the fish will be deboned and that portion will be fried with salt and pepper (we opted out of the jalapeños since my folks were still recovering from a cold) and the second half was described as the squirrel fish (I think this is more of a Shanghainese prep?). In any case, we were sold, and we opted for that.

Starting off the meal was a simple soup du jour of dried bok choy with carrots. Pretty simple but a nice warming touch during this cold December.

Next off was a mushroom medley stir-fry with beef cubes. A nice savory and sweet stir fry with nicely cooked beef. They weren’t stringy and tough, but juicy and tender.

For our veggie plate of the night, we got the salted pork bones with water cress. The salty pork provided a nice savory/salty hit to the dish while I found the water cress to be quite refreshing. Broth helped even out the saltiness.

Ah, and here are the deboned parts of the fish fried with salt, green onions, and garlic. No greasy feeling, and was fried nicely. Just gotta be a bit careful of bones (but well… that should be understood.)

To end the day, we got the squirrel fish. A nice sweet and sour sauce that seemed to be made with bell peppers and red onions. My mom noted that it usually has pine nuts but I can’t seem to find them in this dish. I presume after the deboning process, the fish is essentially butterflied and fried with the meat scored. This kinda resembles a pine cone (I’m not too sure where the squirrel comes from but I assume its a word play). I found the fish delightful, but personal preference goes to the savory style dishes (I enjoyed the braised bitter melon one that we had last time).

Our dessert soup was a red bean soup (a bit luke warm).

Overall, I’m quite pleased with Gourmet Village and will go back in the future. Staring at the online yelp menu, the only dish that seems to be found was our mushroom medley stir fry with beef cubes. I honestly have no idea how this works but I have no major issues having the dishes introduced by the waiter.

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Hey another update. Thought I had a pretty good dinner at Gourmet Village.

Starting off our meal was their soup of the day:

Nothing super extravagant with the soup options, carrots, corn, ginger in pork broth but had a nice savory taste with a bit of gingery bite. I think I mentioned before but they also have double boiled soups, but they do have a few available each night, but probably limited amounts (easier to just order in advance). Saw a table next to us and it looked pretty good.

Anywho, onto our meal. Turns out they had some live scallops and they were pretty good steamed with garlic and green onions. I kinda wish they cut the bottom of the scallop for easier eating, but a fork and a knife easily did its job. Steamed just right, as the scallop was sweet and still supple and not overly chewy.

Next up for the vegetable portion of our meal, we ordered ong (or tung I guess) choy. However, instead of the usual stir-fry with fermented bean curd, we opted to try the suggested fermented bean curd in broth. I can’t say I really tried the broth (I presumed it was chicken broth and some fermented bean curds), but the fermented bean curd’s taste was quite apparent but definitely felt less oily than the sti-fry version. The vegetables were cooked on point, with nothing being overtly mushy.

To continue our seafood meal, we had pan-fried black bass. The fish was cooked really well and the sauce was rather tasty. I can’t quite place exactly what was in the sauce though, it was a little sweet and savory but had a sour taste as well (thinking vinegar).

To end our meal, we also got a nicely braised abalone dish as well. The stir-fried mushrooms on the top right had a different flavored sauce (more similar to a teriyaki style) while the shitake mushroom and abalone had the a braised sauce that reminds me of pretty much the distillation of umami flavors from pork and chicken stock with country ham. Very nice to eat mixed with rice. The abalone are definitely on the smaller end (but the dish was 15 dollars…), but I thought the texture was pretty good. Not overtly mushy but still soaked with the braised sauce flavor. The middle portion of the abalone is definitely chewier than the softer sides, but easily sliced with a knife and fork.

Overall, I’m greatly enjoying my visits to Gourmet Village. They seem to open quite late (5pm to 1 am) so if you’re getting off (or on) a plane in SFO you can get a great meal.

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Is this a possible explanation for the origin of the term “squirrel-fried” fish?

In the opening paragraph of Luke Tsai’s recent Taste article on chef Fu Pei-m, “the Julia Child of Chinese cooking,” he recalls:

In one of my favorite old clips of Fu Pei-mei, it’s sometime in the 1980s, and the mild-mannered cooking instructor is demonstrating her technique for making “squirrel-fried” fish, one of her signature dishes. With a few well-placed strokes of a knife, Fu debones a whole yellow croaker, scores its flesh, and then fries the fish in a wok until the meat unfurls and puffs out like a squirrel’s bushy tail. On the bare-bones set of her long-running series, Fu Pei-mei Time , she wears a mom apron and sports a tidy Asian-mom perm. More than any other television chef I’ve seen, she looks like she could be my mom—if my mom gripped a giant meat cleaver at all times.

Aren’t you the last person in this Chowhound thread? https://www.chowhound.com/post/squirrel-fish-oakland-chinatown-1021351

Haha, I remember reading about this before. Though my Chinese is terrible so I can’t quite go through the same wormhole reading more :confused:

Oh and in regards to Gourmet Village, I think there might have been another change of hand so I’ll have to take a look again. Sigh, it had such good prices…

Hi Night07,

Yes, that was me in 2015 on Chowhound talking about signs of a new restaurant at the then-closed Legendary Palace site in Oakland Chinatown. In Feb of this year I followed up with a history of that iconic building at 7th Street and Franklin , [Oakland] Oakland News & Notes 2019