560 Waverley St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Okay, applying The New York Times scale, the three stars = Very Good
(Some readers' eyes are rolling, but really I am trying to be fair here ;-) I deal with evaluations professionally and standards are a chronic issue!)
Went here with the folks on a recent Saturday afternoon around 1PM. Greeted warmly and led inside the elegant but largely empty restaurant. We were seated next to a couple with children, the only other party there when we arrived.
We ordered dim sum. Ming's selection is far better, so go there if you want the "real" dim sum experience, which includes an atmosphere of packed tables and casual flair. Ming's also has FAR BETTER vegetarian options. However, Taipan's food seem like it might be of superior quality. At least based on one little visit. And while I wish the place had windows in its main section, it is a good-looking place in a reserved, dignified way. An appropriate setting for certain kinds of company or conversation!
We ordered steamed pork dumplings, turnip cakes, rice noodles, lettuce cups, and Chinese broccoli. That's it? Perhaps a few other things but I can't remember exactly. These dishes were all very appetizing, especially the lettuce cups. In fact, I was disappointed when one of the servers brought to us a second serving of them and withdrew them when she realized they should have gone to another table. Damn!
The Chinese broccoli had no bitter aftertaste (it does at Ming's) and its sauce was more delicate. (Can't help to make comparisons.)
The pan-fried rice noodles had flavor all cooked into them, giving them a slightly smokey flavor. I am more accustomed to a plainer version of rice noodles that are drizzled with sauce sauce, but now prefer the former.
Since customers wanting dim sum order a la carte, the place is really preparing it just for you. As such, one expects higher quality than at a place like Ming's. But I still like Ming's for its variety, and precisely for its casual ambiance. You can eat like a pig at Ming's; it's not as easy to do that at Taipan. Better to be more civilized.
On the other hand, the place is nice enough to bring familiar dignitaries, like parents. And I do like it when dishes are placed on the table with care.
Next time, I'd like to go to Taipan for dinner, with a large group of people.