[Mountain View] Cooking Papa 好煮意 2.0, with new chefs


#1

Cooking Papa in Mountain View just reopened under new management. They are in soft opening mode from Dec 18th to Jan 18th. I swung by and wanted to eat lunch there. I was given a menu to look at by a server. I asked what the specialty was and I was told the roasted duck (and roasted duck rice). And the duck did look nice.

The menu looked a bit more condensed than before. Though it retained quite a bit of the old favorites. I saw a couple of familiar servers. After holding the menu for a while, I asked the server when a table would free up. She said they were cleaning the table. After another 5 minutes, with nothing much happening, I asked again and was told this time that they were waiting for a table to open up. Looking at the tables, none of them looked like they would be wrapping up soon, and they hadn’t opened up the seating section near the bathroom, so I left. Almost all tables were 4 person tables with many only had 1 or 2 seated. The tables were spaced widely apart. So they definitely could use some optimizations.

I came back to pick up to-go orders a couple of days later. Chatting with the servers, they said that all the chefs were new. So we’d have to do some sleuthing to understand their strengths since that means 2.0 is essentially a completely new Cantonese restaurant.

We got:

Preserved egg sliced pork congee

The congee was really good. One could clearly taste the pork broth in the congee base. Delicious.

Lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice

Decent. Though a little on the dry side. I recall the old version was better.

Wonton noodle soup

Wonton noodle soup used to be a relatively strong point at Cooking Papa 1.0. The version at the new CP was disastrous on multiple levels.

The broth- tasted weird and unpleasant. Tasted nothing like the deeply satisfying tile fish-based broth that a proper one would have. Not sure what went into it. Discarded all the broth.

The wonton- the minced pork contained many unchewable tendons and I had to spit many pieces out. Low quality meat filling. The shrimps were of average quality.

The noodle- didn’t make it into my to-go order. I called them up, told them about it, and told them to reverse the charge for the dish. They asked me whether I could go back and pick up the noodles. I said no and told them to reverse the charge. The manager later called and said he’d try to reverse the charge and if he could not, he’d comp us a crab next time. I don’t see the charge being reversed. I think there’s a lot of inexperience at the hostess desk, both in terms of waiting experience in the first visit, and in the to-go order packing in the second visit. They had a lot of kinks to work out. I am not out to extract a crab from anybody, and I’d much rather that they fix their wonton noodles, or take it off the menu entirely.

With or without noodle, the wonton noodle soup was an embarrassment, and might be one of the very rare times that I’d send a dish back to the kitchen if I was dining in. I could live with opening hiccups like forgetting noodles (even though my hungry young daughter didn’t very much appreciate the noodle went missing), but the wonton noodle soup dish was beyond redemption and I am not sure if time can fix that.

The wait time for the order was very long- more than half an hour.

If anyone has been back, what is good? I will go back to try other dishes and the duck because its not far for me, but I will wait a little bit for them to iron the kinks out.

They don’t yet have dimsums.


#2

They no longer serve dim sum dishes.

We spoke with the managers and they are focusing on fresh ingredients without preservatives, MSG, and non-natural chemicals (like Prague Powder). Also there is a focus on less sugar/oil in their dishes

The bulk of the dishes are far lighter than before (this is because there is no more MSG addition to each dish). We had the mini-BBQ platter which was actually much better than the old Cooking Papa version. The soups and congees tasted “lighter”, as did the fish and other veggie dishes.

We’d go back, the dishes are great for light brunch fare, here’s an image of what we ordered:

Mini BBQ Platter.
Fish fillet congee.
Pea sprouts in fish broth.
Not pictured: soup dumplings, taste exactly the same as the previous Cooking Papa.


#3

Good to hear about the quality of other food.

What is the fish that’s used in the congee? The type with or without bones?

What kind of soup dumplings? Jiaozi? or Xiaolongbao?


#4

Sole fillets in the congee (boneless).

Soup dumplings are translated from xiao long bao (xlb), so in this case, pork dumplings with some soup inside.

Jiaozi are generally dumplings that have been boiled, but some also call them fried dumplings or jian jiao (commonly known as gyōza).