Searching the Peninsula for Authentic Chinese Food

Bay Area foodie reviews 5 Joy Restaurant

By MARIAM HOSSEINI
|  Saturday, Apr 24, 2010  |  Updated 8:23 AM PDT
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De Young is in Full Spring Bloom

Mu Shu Chicken Chow Mein.

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It's right there, pretty much in the middle of nowhere: 5 Joy Restaurant. Technically, it’s at the edge of Foster City to be more exact, but it may as well be the middle of nowhere.

I’d long been searching for exceptional Chinese food in the Peninsula, so I was more than willing to make the drive to Beach Park Boulevard near the water on a Sunday afternoon in the hopes of finding what I was looking for. The long wait outside was a promising sign, and I was rewarded with some of the best Chinese food I’ve had in quite some time.

You know you’ve stumbled upon an authentic Chinese restaurant when all the patrons are, well, Chinese. My dining companion and I stuck out like sore thumbs, and our waiter was happy to offer suggestions on what to order.

We started with the beef noodle soup.

The broth was incredibly rich and hearty, and was full of tender cuts of beef and hand-cut noodles. I couldn’t quite make out the spices, but I think I detected a good hit of anise and onions. It was hard to not go back for seconds, but I had to save room for the next dish.

I tend to stay away from run-of-the-mill dishes like chow mein at Chinese restaurants, but the mu shu chicken chow mein at 5 Joy Restaurant is anything but. Like the soup, the noodles in this dish were hand-cut.

The noodles were tender and slightly chewy and although the dish was pretty greasy, it was also incredibly flavorful. A combination of fresh vegetables and juicy chicken made this dish a winner.

Last came our Zhong Hua Road potstickers. We had been warned that this dish takes the longest to cook, and indeed, it arrived at the tail-end of our meal.

I can see why. The care and labor it must take to make these super-delicate potstickers must be time-consuming. These babies were much larger than the potstickers I’m used to, and the soy-chili dipping sauce served alongside them were an ideal accompaniment to cut through the richness of the filling.

The portions at 5 Joy Restaurant are huge, and I went home with plenty of leftovers. 5 Joy Restaurant may be well out of the way, but I can easily see why it gets so busy. I no longer live in the Peninsula, but it remains a must-go eatery for when I’m in the area.

Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years.  She blogs regularly at yogurtsoda.com.

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