South Bay: Koi Palace

There was a lot of buzz when Koi Palace opened a branch in Milpitas.  We knew the wait would be ridiculous, so we kept our distance. 

We finally found ourselves walking up to steps to Koi's Palace when my dad's cousin invited us (minus my poor sister who was unfortunately at school in SF) out to dinner with her family one night:

We had reservations, but though we got there early, our table wasn't ready until after our reservation time had passed.  It was just that busy that night:

The volume level in the place was so high that my dad's cousin had to shout in order for the server to take her order.

She had a list of dishes she wanted to try and more importantly, she was treating, so we let her do her thing.  We didn't try to interfere until she asked about some kind of fish stock that isn't on the menu.  When the server informed us that the fish stock cost almost $70, the entire table immediately said, "No, thank you."   

The entire table with the exception of my dad's cousin, who said, "Great!"

Guess who the server listened to?

When it arrived, we all watched with morbid curiosity as the server carefully ladled out the clear stock, leaving behind a mass grave of fish, meat, and other mysterious things:

For that exorbitant price, we expected this stock to cure all ailments, grow hair on our chests, and give us X-ray vision.  Instead, we got soup (albeit quite tasty soup).  It was definitely flavorful, but it wasn't life-changing by any means. 

We weren't expected to eat the actual leftover meat, but the hell were we going to leave it there!  That's probably 50 bucks worth of food, man!  In true practical Chinese fashion, we all got busy digging out the edible bits until a server stealthily took it from under our noses without giving us a chance to protest.

Compared to the drama of the stock, all the other dishes seemed much less memorable.  There was Kurobuta pork with pineapple ($24):    

The lychee was an interesting touch.

Knowing my dad's love for chicken, his cousin made sure to order him half of one ($15):

With ginger sauce, of course:

Then came the Peking dunk with pumpkin buns ($42):

Which unsurprisingly came with sauce and green scallions:

Some kind of clay pot (I think there was fish in it):

Mixed mushrooms over soft tofu walled in by greens:

And lastly, smoked sea bass ($32):

We were completely stuffed by the time the sea bass arrived, but it was so tender and moist that I couldn't stop eating it.

To add to the pretentiousness of the restaurant, white rice came in individual clay pots and cost $2 each:

By the end of the meal, we were beyond full.  But that didn't mean we weren't anxiously waiting for the complimentary dessert:

Freshly steamed custard bun, come into my belly:

Let's be real, now.  That meal was absurdly expensive.  Unnecessarily so.  Yes, the food was good.  But dude.  Not THAT good.  (And did you see how small that piece of sea bass was for $32?!)

The atmosphere felt like a battle zone at the beginning of our meal with all the servers rushing around and all the people yelling over each other.  It was almost stressful sitting among all the chaos.  Service was also on the brusque side for such a fancy place, though our server mellowed out and was cracking jokes with us by the time things slowed down and half of the restaurant had cleared out.  (Apparently the best time to go is on a Tuesday at 1:00 pm).

Would I go again?  Well, yes, if someone wanted to treat me.  But would I sink my own hard-earned cash into Koi Palace?  Hell nah.  I'm nonprofit, yo.

Koi Palace
768 Barber Ln
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 432-8833


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