Thursday, July 24, 2008

Holiday from Cooking: Hell

Half of the rooms in my house are empty and in the process of being painted/sanded/overhauled by men wielding power drills and blasting Mexican radio. The other half look like the photo above, or worse. I sleep, work, and eat on the lumpy living room sofa, and I can't find any of my shoes or unpaid bills or even the TV. I am almost never alone.

But I think it's wrong to complain about remodeling. It's like complaining about the pain following elective plastic surgery. I am sitting here in a pretty sundress typing on a fancy laptop in an about-to-be-beautiful house drinking a Starbucks latte. The world doesn't really need to know about how HARD it all is.

Now about food: Koi Palace was a physically grand space -- a koi-filled stream trickled through the dining room -- but the dim sum was shockingly unimpressive. I'd been led to believe this was the ne plus ultra of Bay Area dim sum joints, but I didn't even finish my usually beloved har gau, a sure sign that something was off. The baked bbq pork buns were gummy inside; the ribs extremely fatty (in a borderline nasty way); the shrimp had a powerfully fishy taste.

But it was worth the visit because the egg custard tarts were so damned good. Like maybe the best I've ever had. Egg custard tarts are one of the great unsung desserts on earth, better than flourless chocolate cake or tiramisu or strawberry ice cream or bread pudding. The warm, creamy tarts at Koi Palace are top drawer. A little sweeter than those at Golden Gate Bakery, the generally recognized standard-bearer, but I think I like that.

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