279 El Camino Real (Near La Cruz)
Millbrae, CA 94030
The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns highly regarded 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 dinner. The food here is pretty authentic Chinese Cantonese food, so some may not like this type of more hardcore cuisine. Do not come here for General’s Chicken or Broccoli Beef. Another review covers The Kitchen dim sum lunch. Our last visit for dinner was in 2015, a meal where we found that their quality has improved. We’d consider this #2 behind Koi Palace. The Kitchen has recently remodeled the dining room, making it much more open, spacious, and modern.
Be sure to read our article How to order in authentic Chinese dinner
Decor-Vibe – The Kitchen, Millbrae is a typical busy and noisy Chinese restaurant with lots of families and friends eating together. Come early or make a reservation, as this place is pretty busy. Almost all people were of Asian descent. Like many Chinese restaurants, the bathroom is not very clean.
The Kitchen Menu pics (Click to zoom in on any picture)
The menu at The Kitchen is almost identical to that Asian Pearl, no surprise since they were under the same ownership for a while. For those a little overwhelmed by Chinese menus, go for the items with pictures in the menu and on the wall, they are all specialties. In 2014 we noticed additional dish pictures on the wall, all worthy targets for future ordering.
The Kitchen Food Picks:
Crab Claws were deep friend to perfection and still piping hot.
Salt and Pepper Squid ($10) was very delicious. Lightly fried but super tender calamari.
Braised Mushrooms, Sea Cucumber, Abalone with mustard greens is a classic Chinese dish that the Kitchen did well. Expensive but worth it.
Lotus leaf steamed rice is an exotic dish here. Instead of frying the rice, it is steamed. Good stuff.
Sharks Fin with crab meat in pumpkin soup ($28) – A non politically correct soup but very tasty with high quality sharks fin and the pumpkin gold cream that makes it very smooth. Lots of real crab. Thankfully they removed this dish.
Soup of the day ($18) was a special double boiled seafood soup with pork which was excellent. A very good price for a long boiled soup full of flavor. As a bonus you get a plate full of ingredients to dip into soy sauce.
Sauteed Foie Gras with Wild mushrooms ($30) was a decadent dish. As a lover of Foie Gras, the actual Foie Gras was pretty dense and compact, but the Foie Gras flavor melted all over the delicious mushrooms. Lots of quantity too. This dish is now banned.
Sauteed Coral Giant Clam with XO sauce ($16.80) had exotic orange colored clams with mushrooms and snap peas. Not gamey, perfectly cooked. Jalapenos made it slightly spicy.
Roast Pork Belly ($12) was super freshly cooked roast pork. The top skin was super crunchy beyond anything I have tried.
Fried frog ($16) was chopped up into small pieces and very easy to gnaw on. Crisp, not a lot of meat, nicely done. This is on their alternate specials menu, not on the main menu.
Ginger Onion Braised fish heads Clay pot ($13) is an exotic dish that was done perfectly. Lots of ginger onions though. Tender, deep fried fish heads.
Good Soup of the day
Their Westlake Beef Soup ($12) was also good. Soft tofu, not a lot of cilantro, egg white drop on top.
Geo duck Soup (Market Price) had a strong flavor from the mustard greens, but still managed to be luxurious. The soup pieces were brought to us on a separate plate. The geo duck was separately sauteed and cooked with vegetables. A nice change from geo duck sashimi.
Roast Squab ($13.80 whole) – Authentic version of a classic Cantonese dish. Juicy and cooked just right. Crispy skin. On our last visit, squab looked pale but tasted fine.
Roast Goose ($35 half) was a special dish one evening. A bit more boney than duck and less meat, otherwise decent. Hong Kong has a lot of roast goose instead of duck.
Steamed Chicken ($10, Half) – came with some nice ginger, scallion dipping sauce. Tender and flavored as expected.
In Choy ($13) in Supreme broth looked like a soup but was filled with pork, tender vegetables, mushrooms, and a reddish broth. Experts can customize the ingredients used.
Pea shoots in supreme broth ($18) was full of tender veggies in a light broth, topped with some garlic. A Sterno candle helped keep it warm.
Sesame Shredded Chicken ($13) with shredded chicken, sesame, peanuts, cilantro, green onions was a cold dish that is more suitable for summertime when the weather is hot. It was a nice balanced dish.
Honey Pepper Beef Short Ribs ($13)- Not big on quantity, more red and green bell peppers than meat, but good flavor. The version with papaya is $13.80 and even better.
Peking style Pork Ribs ($15) were cooked perfectly and slightly tangy. Lots of sweet and sour style sauce on pork ribs with a bit of onions.
Geoduck Clam and Snap peas (Market price) – Tender and plentiful Geoduck clam stir fried along with crispy peas. Very good dish. Geoduck looks ugly in their tank but taste wonderful. On another occasion we had Geoduck with Jicama. Nice chewy, crunchy action.
Mini Prawns (Market Price) – Had a ton of compact prawns. Lots of work de-shelling these bit sized wonders.
Thousand Island Japanese Tofu ($13.80) had Japanese soft tofu with egg and jalapenos on a hot skillet. It was delicious but could do without the jalapenos.
Peking Duck ($28 whole) was a solid version. Nice fluffy buns. Duck Flavor was fine and meat was plentiful.
Crispy Skin Chicken ($13 for Half) did not really have crispy skin, it was a little soggy but the meat was tender and flavorful. No shrimp chips!
Fujian style fried rice ($13) was topped with lots of shrimp, scallops, chicken, egg, duck, mushrooms, and made for a heavy but excellent Rice dish.
Fried rice with dried scallops and egg whites ($13.80) was another excellent rice dish. Mild flavors and liberal quantities.
Beef Chow Fun ($12) was a good sized portion of freshly cooked thick rice noodles with bean sprouts, chives, and lots of tasty tender beef.
Chili leaf in supreme broth ($16) was a seasonal summer veggie in a nice broth topped with egg. Very nice.
Double boiled hashima with Lotus seeds ($9.80) is an acquired taste for dessert but proved to be excellent. Strong date flavor, tender hashima, not a lot of sweetness, along with lots of ingredients.
Malay Cake with coconut Milk ($3.80 per person) was freshly steamed and highly recommended. Nice light brown color and spongy texture.
Baked Stuff Eggplant ($13) was very good. It had a lot of bonito fish shavings on top of tender and fresh eggplant.
Chinese Broccoli ($13)- Typical vegetable dish, nothing special. Gotta eat your veggies though.
Simmered Clams with Turnip in Broth ($15) had lots of clams and some bland turnips. This dish did not have very much flavor.
Steamed Shrimp stuffed Tofu ($13) was average at best.
Service was about average for a place like this although it seems to be better on our last visit in 2015. You have to hunt down the workers for most requests. They also push you out the door when another party is waiting. The quality of the food is very high here especially factoring in the cost. Some of their specialty dishes are pretty good. This is a good place for quality Cantonese Chinese Dinner especially for exotic dishes. Others in their top notch category include Asian Pearl, Millbrae, Koi Palace in Daly City, and R&G Lounge in San Francisco.
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