279 El Camino Real (Near La Cruz)
Millbrae, CA 94030
The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns Chinese Cantonese restaurants in California including Asian Pearl Peninsula. We’ve been to most of them and find them pretty good. This review concentrates on dim sum served only during lunch. Another review covers The Kitchen dinner. We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated, pretty typical on another occasion around 2pm, we walked right in. They appear to be under new ownership and not related to Asian Pearl anymore. Our last visit for lunch was in May 2016. The Kitchen has recently remodeled the dining room, making it much more open, spacious, and modern. They were listed in the Michelin Guide (No stars) and recently added a freshly made Dragon Beard Candy stand by the door.
Be sure to read Foodnut’s Introduction to Chinese Dim Sum
Decor, Vibe – The Kitchen is a typical busy and noisy Chinese restaurant with lots of families and friends eating together. Like many Chinese restaurants, the bathroom isn’t very clean.
The Kitchen Menu
The breath of dim sum items was good but not extensive. They do have some modern inventive dishes along with the classic. The menu has been pared back over our previous visit.
The Kitchen Food Picks:
Empress chicken porridge ($8) proved to be a solid version of jook. Reasonable size, includes some Chinese doughnuts (Yau Tiu), lots of embedded flavor in the Rice soup along with plenty of tender chicken. It did take a while to get prepared though.
Crispy skin roast pork ($6.80) looked a little pale, but satisfied our needs for some crispy skin, fatty layers, and chewy goodness.
Roast Duck with orange peel possessed very nice flavor, crispy skin, but was a bit dry.
Sichuan Spicy Chicken ($6.80) was not very spicy but had a slight bit of heat, combined with onions, crunchy peanuts, and cilantro.
Steamed Chao Zhao dumpling ($3.20) were also pretty large dumplings filled with minced pork, peanut, and cilantro. They possess a slight peppery buzz, making it a solid dish.
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings or Har Gow ($4.98) had 4 large and freshly steamed dumplings filled with good sized shrimp. Nicely done, one of the better ones around.
HK Donut Rice Noodle Roll ($3.95) Freshly Fried dough surrounded with rice noodle was still crispy when we received it. Combination of soft noodle and crispy inside in every bite.
Steamed Taro Dumpling ($3.20) is a specialty of theirs. A healthy version of the fried taro dumpling with bits of meat and taro in a translucent wrapper.
Fried Sesame Balls ($2.60) – Fresh and hot out of the fryer. Very large balls with thick skin and tasty red bean filling that was not too sweet. On another occasion, we got this dish from a rolling cart and received some lukewarm versions.
Fried Stuffed Dumpling or Deep Fried Pork Dumpling (Ham Soi Gok) ($3.20) – Also fresh and hot out of the fryer. Huge, crunchy, and full of good meat filling.
Jade Tofu ($3) – Really Egg and Tofu with fish eggs on top. Light, delicate flavor. Not Creamy
Chicken Feet ($3.20, fung zao) – Classic parts cooked well and with a great flavor.
Scallop pea shoot dumpling ($3.20) were pretty large and filled with more pea shoot flavor than most dumplings, but still worth getting.
Steamed BBQ Pork Bun ($3.30) had 3 fairly small white buns with a good amount of meat. Not great but passable.
Stir Fried Sticky Rice ($5.80) consists of glutinous rice with shreds of egg, green onion, and cilantro under glass. A fine version with competently cooked rice textures.
Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves ($4.98) – Cooked well, smaller size, reasonable quality. 2 per order.
Steamed Turnip Cake ($3.95) was more of a steam daikon pudding with dried shrimp and scallops on top. Freshly steamed and full of daikon flavor even though they are out of season.
Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll ($4.98) was really done well. Just enough soy sauce and a medium thick rice noodle. Lots of large shrimp pieces.
Assorted Rice Noodle Roll ($3.95) is another specialty dish. Rice noodle was filled with shrimp and crispy fried rice vermicelli noodle. Plum sauce and soy sauce on the side. Interesting and fun.
Baked Custard Tarts ($2.60, dan tat) – Delicious egg custard and on a fresh flaky pastry shell.
Turtle Jello with either sugar syrup or condensed milk, is the real deal. An acquired taste, but supposedly good for many ailments.
Pea Sprouts Dumpling ($3.95) were average. Stick to the other dumplings.
Black Bean Spare ribs ($2.60, pai gwat)- Tender meat but not a lot of flavor.
Tripe ($3.80) – Crunch but too chewy. Undercooked. It did have a good flavor though.
Pan Fried pork veggie bun ($3.20) is another specialty that took a steamed bun and lightly pan fried it. Filling was mostly vegetables. A miss interpreted northern dish.
The Kitchen’s service was slightly above average for a place like this. You have to hunt down the workers for most requests unless the place is not busy. The Kitchen is not huge, so you do not get as many carts as you do in larger tea houses. You’ll have to wait for some items or order from the menu especially during the week as only a few carts make it around. Defer ordering dessert items until you are ready for them.
The Kitchen’s prices are inline with other local dim sum eateries. All in all, the food was of very good quality, although the top tier of local dim sum at places like Koi Palace in Daly City is better. Other nearby places: Zen Peninsula, Hong Kong Flower Lounge, Champagne Seafood.