Champagne Seafood Restaurant
88 East 4th Ave (At San Mateo Drive)
San Mateo, CA 94401
Worthy dim sum on the SF Peninsula. They closed the Champagne Buffet in April 2014 and re-opened, yet again as Champagne Seafood Restaurant in January 2015. The new format is almost identical to the pre-buffet restaurant but has a new Chinese name and some different dishes. They redid the internals and create a large dining room and eliminated the private rooms. You now have to order dim sum from the check off list that comes complete with pictures for dim sum newbies. Our last visit was at the end of 2017.
We really hope Champagne Seafood survives this time around. The place is pretty barren at dinner. There is no decent Chinese food in San Mateo, forcing us to drive to Millbrae, Foster City, or Belmont.
Champagne Seafood Decor, Vibe – Champagne Seafood has fancy decor with lots of stylish wall accents, big murals, many Flat Panel TVs, new wide chairs, seafood tanks in the back, and a Hong Kong restaurant-feel. Mostly Asians were dining when we visited, place was quieter at dinner than lunch but still hectic, and crowded.
Champagne Seafood Food Picks:
Abalone, Fish Maw, Sea Cucumber Dumpling in broth ($7.80) is the PC version of the Shark’s Fin Dumpling and a good reference test dish. One of the few to include Abalone, this version was very good with lots of delicious filling but a more robust flavorful broth.
Turnip cake in a basket with XO Sauce ($7.68) is another chef’s special. Cubed turnip cake with a slight kick, in a crispy but greasy basket. A Must order. A nice chance from the dull turnip cake patties.
Fish Paste Ball with water cress ($3.80) had 3 huge fish balls is a broth that consisted of complimentary flavors.
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling ($5.68) or Har Gow were four smallish bites of dim sum. Shrimp consisted of chopped up bits and was pretty good surprisingly. Wrapper was decent.
Shrimp with chive dumplings ($5.68) were large triangular cornered dumplings and had lots of chives.
Deep Fried Meat Dumpling ($4.68) or Ham Sui Gok were hot out of the fryer and very good. Nice minced meat filling and not too much grease.
Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll with Yellow Chives ($4.80) was had tasty big shrimp, chewy rice noodle wrapper, and a nice soy sauce. Couple veggies on the side too.
Deep Fried Sesame seed ball ($3.68) were ordered and arrived freshly made. Hot with a thick skin but just the right sweetness of brown sesame innards.
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf ($5.68) for two medium sized ones, was very good. Rice was cooked fine, lots of filling, and a small egg yolk inside.
Chiu Chou Steamed Dumplings ($3.80) included 3 good sized dumplings filled with pork, cilantro, peanuts and a bit of heat.
Pork Ribs with black bean sauce ($4.68) was a good rendition of the classic. Not as greasy as most.
Roast Pork ($6.80) was done well. Crispy and not too fatty.
Giant Surf Clams Over Steamed Noodles ($6.80) was an excellent rice noodle dish. Lots of fresh clam chunks over tender noodles with the perimeter covered with Bok Choy. We have also ordered the version with Spareribs over Steamed Noodle ($6.30)
Bean Curd roll in Fish broth ($5.30) is from their specialties menu. Nice looking dish that combines chewy bean curd with a subtle fish broth. Not really vegetarian.
Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce ($7.30) is a nice healthy choice to round out a meal. It is served with oyster sauce on the side.
Durian Puff Pastry ($6.30) for 3 crispy yet smelly delights. Not particularly beautiful, yet done very well. Price increase $1.50 over a previous visit.
Chinese Herbal Grass Jelly ($3.68) was significantly detuned in terms of medicinal flavors from the past. More sweet than most.
Chicken Feet with black bean sauce ($3.68) was made the classic way with a spot of jalapeno, and hit the spot 100%.
Pineapple Buns ($4.30) are suprisingly good. Freshly made and full of tender filling.
Steamed BBQ Pork Buns ($3.68) had 3 reasonably sized buns with a bit too much dough.
Egg Yolk Lava Bun ($3.80) was excellent and reminded us of Hong Kong. Freshly steamed, lots of yolk, and some flavorful yolk at that.
Portuguese Egg Tarts ($4.30) are done well here. A nice change of pace from the regular ones.
Super Egg Puff ($3.80) is not as nice as Koi Palace but still excelled with good crispiness and sweetness at a lower price.
Steamed Shanghai Dumplings ($4.30) were dismal as expected. Served in a metal holder. Flavor was ok at least. Go visit Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae instead.
Champagne Seafood Hing Lung 2017
Champagne added an inexpensive area for dinner in 2017. The area of the dining room, closest to Chase has its own menu of nice value priced items.
Dinner Food Picks:
DB Soup with Cordycep flower ($6.80) was a personal soup also on the menu at Champagne in Millbrae. Strong long boiled flavors. DB Soup with alligator and S Coconut ($6.80) was little more subdued.
Smoked Honey Sea Bass ($32.80) looked like R&G Lounge’s version, but was a couple notches below them in quality.
Steamed Eggs with clams ($13.80) is the Chinese version of Cha Wan Mushi. Champagne does it well. Lots of clams.
Pea sprouts with garlic ($16.80) were decent but not exceptional. We got them in supreme broth ($14.80) which lagged R&G’s slightly.
Half Chicken with Shallots ($13.80) was a variation on steamed chicken. A bit more flavor and highly recommended.
Champagne Seafood Roasted Duck ($16.80 for half) was excellent. Lots of juicy and tender meat made for one of the better classic roast dishes.
Roast Squab ($16.80) was also excellent though very pricey. Crisp, good deep flavor.
Nam Yu Roast Crispy Chicken ($13.80 for half) was slightly above average with crisp skin and juicy meat.
They maintained a dessert buffet from the old days, with fruit, osmanthus jello, cold sweet soup and more.
Service was solid with plate changes, tea refills, water refills happening without asking. Dim Sum circulated pretty well during the noon hour, then tapered off. Champagne Seafood Restaurant has a lot of guts re-opening a Chinese restaurant after failing at the buffet and this format in the past. Food was solid and prices were reasonable. Lunch was good enough to prompt us to come back and see how dinner is.
Local top spots Daly City Koi Palace and Millbrae’s Asian Pearl Peninsula still rank higher. Hopefully in time, this place will become even better.