279 El Camino Real (Near La Cruz)
Millbrae, CA 94030
Top Chinese in SF. The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns Chinese Cantonese restaurants in California including Asian Pearl Peninsula. We have dined at many of them and find the food pretty darn 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. Our last visit for lunch was in June 2017.
Be sure to read:
Kitchen Decor, Vibe – The Kitchen is a typical busy and noisy Chinese restaurant with lots of families and friends eating together. The decor has improved over the years, good to see they are investing in the future. The Kitchen has remodeled the dining room in late 2016, making it much more open, spacious, Chinese Gaudy and modern. Like many Chinese restaurants, the bathroom isn’t very clean. That isn’t the fault of the Kitchen!
The Kitchen Millbrae Menu
The breath of dim sum items was good but not extensive. They do have some modern inventive dishes along with the classic dim sum. The menu has been pared back over our previous visit. 77 items on our visit in the middle of 2017.
BTW: We would avoid ordering the non Cantonese Chinese dishes:
- Shanghai Style Steam Dumplings
- Pan Fried Pork Buns
The Kitchen Food Picks:
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings or Har Gow ($4.98) had 4 large and freshly steamed dumplings filled with good sized shrimp. Nicely done, strong shrimp flavor, thin wrapper, one of the better ones around.
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.
Hong Kong Style 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.
Empress chicken porridge ($8) proved to be a solid version of jook or rice porridge. 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.
Wasabi Tossed Chicken with Conch Meat ($15) is an interesting dish they recently added. The first one was over spiced and literally was incredibly HOT. They fixed it and we found this dish to have bold flavors and textures. Not cheap, but good if you have several people.
Sichuan Spicy Chicken ($6.80) was not very spicy but had a slight bit of heat, combined with onions, crunchy peanuts, and cilantro.
Tofu Skin Roll in Broth ($4.35) is a nice vegetarian dish. Delicate without being too greasy.
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.
Steamed Japanese Tofu ($4.98) – 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 ($2.95) had 3 fairly small white buns with a good amount of meat. Wow they have improved in 2017 to excellent status.
Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll ($4.98) was really done well. Just enough soy sauce and a medium thick rice noodle. Lots of large, fresh shrimp chunks.
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.
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, nubile glutinous rice, small egg yolk. 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.
Fried Sesame Balls ($2.60) – Was not on the menu in 2017, but cane be ordered. Fresh and hot out of the fryer. Very large balls with thick skin and tasty red bean filling that was not too sweet. Do not get cold ones that are being rolled around in a cart.
Baked Custard Tarts ($2.60, aka 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 and 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 are even better. This and sister restaurant Asian Pearl are great choices for dim sum.