Tai Pan used to be in the expensive tier in the Bay Area dim sum scene along with places like Yank Sing. It still is not cheap, but since the recent wave of price increase in other dim sum places like Hong Kong Lounge 2, it suddenly doesn’t look as expensive any more.
First, part of the price goes to all that space, and nicely decorated one too, where you can stretch your legs and not hit anybody at the next table. Not quite Hong Kong fancy hotel dim sum amount of space, but good amount of space nonetheless.
And part of the price goes towards the ability to, just like at Yank Sing and better dimsum joints in Hong Kong, RESERVE A TABLE on Opentable ahead of time, without having to attempt to negotiate with the host on the phone in Cantonese during that day’s dim sum service whether you can reserve or get a number, with all that chaos happening behind the host stand. Apologies for the shouting, but the 1 to 2 hour waiting at Koi Palace, Saigon, etc because they intentionally underprice their dim sum, is sheer lunacy. And HKL2 still makes you wait for dimsum despite having comparable prices as Tai Pan. And if you go through the no-wait entrance for the regulars at Koi, you’d already paid your dues via prior expensive seafood meals. And if you know your host enough and decide to slide an Abe Lincoln or Hamilton discreetly to get seated quicker, well, that’s money too.
Look at all these glorious availabilities for this coming Saturday.
Well, we called to get a table 10 minutes before showing up the past weekend. And the third thing the price goes towards is dim sum of high standards, with good and fresh ingredients, generally well made.
With all that recent chatter here about XO sauce, I felt like having some during the meal- Sauteed turnip cake with XO sauce. Solid. Their XO sauce was pretty decent and came with mildly spicy and fragrant dried scallops, shrimps, scallions, etc.
Baked roasted pork/ char siu buns. The buns themselves weren’t very remarkable, but the filling was clearly better quality and real char sius instead a mess of scarlet-colored oversweetened, random pieces of pork fat.
Rice noodle roll with beef- HKL2’s version is slightly better. But Tai Pan’s version wasn’t too shabby. Versus the average rice rolls, the beef filling here tasted like beef and less like starch, though not quite as fragrant as HKL2’s.
Glutinous rice puff- They call their rice puff glorious on the menu, and I’d agree. Rice puff with good texture and a tasty filling. The only better ones in recent memories was at Ming Court in Hong Kong. Ming Court’s was perfection. Tai Pan fell just short with filling that’s sweeter than what I prefer. I ate 2.5 pieces out of the 3 on the plate despite what was supposed to be a sharing arrangement.
Pea shoot/ prawn steamed dumpling- decent, but overpowered by the very strong pea shoot taste. I don’t think I had come across pea shoot that tasted that strongly.
Baked roasted pork/ char siu puff: same quality char siu as the buns. The layer of pastry between the outer layer and the char sius was very mushy, which made for a subpar chew. Flavors were fine.
Dried scallop dumpling- great dish. Fresh, firm and bright tasting shrimps in a soft translucent tapioca skin balanced by with the texture of generous amount of crunchy eggs. Quality on par with the glutinous rice puff.
Nice 香片 jasmine tea. They steam everything after order is placed, so expect a wait for the steamed dishes.