Located on El Camino Real, a mere ten-minute walk from M-A, is Yum Cha Palace, a traditional dim sum restaurant. The restaurant opened in 1991 and soon became a beloved staple of the community, a legacy that has only grown since.
The warm, bright lights illuminating the restaurant create an atmosphere of comfort and shine out through the giant windows lining the walls, giving passerby a view of the massive dining room. The ambience resonates throughout the restaurant, with the friendly attitude of the workers, as well as the food, often described as childhood comfort food, full of rich, authentic flavors.
Customer Stephany Soo, a frequent diner, sat at the restaurant with her friend and their children to enjoy the food. “I love this restaurant. Their dim sum dishes are delicious, and it is so hard to find cheap, authentic Chinese food near Menlo Park.”
Yum Cha Palace’s massive menu is filled with every possible dim sum item: buns, dumplings, soups, rice, tea, and more. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite orders for you to try!
Soup dumplings (小笼包）$8.50
Soup dumplings are a must-order item, especially as the winter season approaches. The soft sack of dough holds a steamy broth with chicken that bursts in your mouth. Each order of dumplings contains six pieces, but considering how tasty they are, you may need one order per person!
Shrimp dumplings (燒賣) $7.50
Shrimp lovers will adore this item, pieces of fresh shrimp wrapped in steamed strips of thin dough. The simple yet satisfying flavor can be enhanced by adding red vinegar or soy sauce. These dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, and have become a standard dim-sum dish since.
Hot and sour soup (酸辣汤) $5 (bowl), $11 (pot)
Hot and sour soup is a classic dim sum dish, especially tasty in the cold. This delicious soup contains a mix of bamboo shoots, tofu, mushrooms, and a soy sauce-flavored broth. When brought to the table, wafts of the warm and fresh smell of the soup rise up from the dish.
Chicken feet (豉汁凤爪) $8.50
Chicken feet is one of the most classic Chinese dim sum dishes, in which the chicken feet are blanched, soaked, and then deep-fried. Coated with an umami sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and an array of spices and seasonings, this dish is incredibly flavorful and textured, as well as providing collagen to the body. The dish was nicely served along with red pepper toppings, making the plate enjoyably flavorful and savory.
Mango pomelo sago pudding (杨枝甘露) $6.95
To finish off, the Mango Pomelo Sago Pudding is a delicious dessert, containing a mix of mango juice, grapefruit pieces, and small jelly cubes. This dessert, popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, holds a fruity and slightly sweet flavor.
Unfortunately Yum Cha Palace was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing countless customers and even closing for a year. Manager Tony Chu said, “We had to close for over a year, and now there are fewer customers coming in compared to previous years.”
Despite these hardships, the establishment continues to serve the same delicious, authentic food with warm smiles on their faces, no doubt a testament to the love and consideration poured into the place by the employees. Chu expressed his love for the restaurant, saying, “Working at this restaurant for five years has led me to become attached to the staff, the customers, and the restaurant itself. I came to the U.S. from China during my mid-twenties, so being able to include my culture and language into my job really makes me happy.”