San Francisco Dining: Koi Palace

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Koi Palace at Serramonte Plaza
365 Gellert Ave
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 992-9000

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After getting off a five and a half hour plane ride from Newark and arriving at San Francisco, I got the rental car and picked up my colleague, Cheryl, also just arriving from Cleveland, who would be joining me that week for training in the Silicon Valley area. Both of us were absolutely starving. It was only 4PM, but for us, it was dinnertime.

Knowing that we had at least an hour or so drive ahead of us driving down to the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area south of San Jose, we wanted to get a good meal in before hitting any potential traffic on the 85/101. I knew exactly where I wanted to go the second I landed in San Francisco. Koi Palace.

I had eaten at Koi Palace about three years earlier, and was introduced to the incredible dim sum that the restaurant offers. During the daytime and on the weekends, Koi Palace serves upwards of 100 different varieties of yum cha. The restaurant seats upwards of 300-400 people at a time — usually close to capacity — and looks like something out of the crazy fight scenes in Kill Bill or the luxurious residence of an Asian James Bond villain, with its huge vaulted ceiling and fish ponds in the middle of the main dining room. Admittedly, we have some pretty good Hong-Kong style restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown and in the Queens and New Jersey suburbs, but nothing even close to this. I mean, LIVE Alaskan king crabs? Where the heck do you find those in New York?

View of the restaurant from the parking lot at 4:30PM. This is as empty as most people will ever see it, as during prime dinner and lunch hours, this place can get packed and frequently you have to wait on line to get in. So go early.

A partial view of the cavernous main dining room.

Are you ready for some serious Hong Kong-style Seafood? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Oh we got crabs!!!!!

More crabs!

Live abalone! Don’t these things look like the creatures from that old Star Trek episode that flew through the air and got stuck on Spock’s face?

Koi Palace is also known for its banquet menus as well. These are priced for a dozen people.

Prized shark fins on display.

Gotta start out with some Jasmine tea.

Peanuts with little fishy things in it.

A plate of Chinese pickles.

Hot and sour soup for 2 with dumplings. Probably the best hot and sour soup I’ve ever had. Nice sour bite, plenty of “stuff” in it and not at all gloppy. The addition of dumplings really makes the dish too.

Hot and Sour soup portion with dumpling.

A small plate of fried dumplings. We couldn’t resist.

The piece de resistance, the Malaysian Curry Crab. This is an entire locally-caught Dungeness crab in a spicy Curry sauce. Its very messy to eat, you have to do it with your hands.

A closeup of the Malaysian Curry Crab with the carapace removed.

We also got some of these live, freshly steamed “L.A.” prawns. These guys were absolutely huge. They were served with a simple soy/scallion/ginger dipping sauce.

Cheryl is utterly freaking out over the size of these shrimps.

Prawn closeup. Many of these also had roe attached to them, which is a Chinese delicacy.


Dessert, slices of orange and orange gelatin. A nice simple and refreshing end of an amazing Chinese seafood meal.

7 Responses to San Francisco Dining: Koi Palace

  1. NancyH says:

    Jason wrote: “I mean, LIVE Alaskan king crabs? Where the heck do you find those in New York?”

    Jason – I know of two Cleveland restaurants that sometimes get live King Crabs – Siam Cafe (Mr. Brisket had one for his birthday just a couple of weeks ago) and C&Y Restaurant – you might want to check these out the next time you are in town. Koi Palace does look darn amazing, though!

  2. Tom Traubert says:

    I am horrified whenever I see shark fins like that — or even real shark fin soup on a menu. Delicacy or not, their harvest requires the slaughter of an entire animal, the rest of which is often put to no other purpose once the fin is sliced off. The shark is just left in the water — finless — to die an agonizing death. It’s not only brutal, but has led to an extraordinary decrease in shark populations.

  3. Aaron Kagan says:

    Live Alaskan crabs? Not for long, apparently.

    Congrats on your bold effort to alter your Fat Pack identity and eat to live while still finding a way to live to eat. We think alike.

  4. Lafcadio says:

    It landed on Spock’s back, not his face :)

    These are gorgeous photos, especially the pickled veggies and the oranges.

  5. Rich says:

    There’s plenty of places in NYC for live alaskan king crab. They cost about $50 bucks a pounds and they usually weigh about 8 to 10 pounds.

  6. Esther says:

    Hi Jason:
    I’ve been hungry for crabs forever… but I am in Fort Lee and there are NO CRABS. No Marylands, no Dungeness, and I do not believe in frozen, salted king legs.
    Your VC entry came to mind and seeing how you love Chinese food & seafood, can you recommend a GREAT local chinese resturant? I know you did the post on the one in Cliffside but that region of cooking isn’t my favorite.

    Thank you,

  7. Cam says:

    Jason – How did you find this restaurant? It seems off the beaten path…

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