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Restaurant brings high-end, private dining to Palo Alto

Uploaded: Jun 29, 2017
Maum, a Korean restaurant that was supposed to open for years in the former Apple Store on University Avenue in Palo Alto, has quietly opened just blocks away at 322 University Ave.

Owner Patrick Tsui did not return several requests for comment, but social media posts indicate the restaurant — now a high-end, private dining concept — soft opened earlier this month.

An online job posting for a sous chef describes Maum as an upscale, private restaurant "serving an exclusive clientele searching for the highest quality of cuisine, drink, and service."

In May, Tsui posted on his Facebook that he was "close to soft opening Maum finally!" and looking for "fine-dining" wait staff.

On June 8, Jaeson Ma, a talent manager and producer whose connection to the restaurant is unclear, posted on Instagram a photograph of the restaurant announcing the "soft launch" of the "east meets west private restaurant in the heart of Silicon Valley." The photo shows a dining room with one long, immaculately set communal table and a small open kitchen in the back.

"So blessed to host amazing new friends from Beijing with red champagne & the most exquisite Korean dishes @ 322 (University)," he wrote. "This is just the first of more amazing nights of friendship, fun and forward thinking thought leaders between Silicon Valley and Asia." 

On June 17, Ma posted more photos of the restaurant, with a group of diners — including none other than MC Hammer — and a series of dishes like caviar, oysters, sashimi, grilled meat and a bottle of Chablis Grand Cru wine. MC Hammer also posted the photo on Twitter with the message: "Ain't no lyric you can spit to give you this ... you either got it or you don't. It's real #TownBizness."

The restaurant has no signage outside yet and its front windows are tinted, preventing a view inside from the street.

Tsui originally planned to open Maum at 451 University Ave. but withdrew the project late last year.

322 University Ave. formerly housed Madame Tam, which closed in 2015.

Tsui was the general manager of Frances, a Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, before leaving to work at casual Asian street food eatery Spice Kit, which has locations in Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Ramon. In 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tsui opened Mealtop, a Korean-style shaved ice shop, in Santa Clara. It has since closed.

Perhaps it is not yet a trend, but Maum is the second upscale private dining concept to open on the Midpeninsula in recent months. At Hiroshi in Los Altos, dinner is limited to one seating of eight people each evening and dishes like Wagyu beef and uni are flown in weekly from Japan.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by private dining?, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:02 am

What is "private dining"?

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

There are multiple uses of the term "private dining" but the common element is that the general public does not have access to this hospitality, the guests are selected or vetted. The term connotes a sense of exclusivity.

In some cases, it might refer to a certain part of a restaurant, like a private room that only members of a specific party can have access to (unlike the main dining room). Some times, an entire section or an entire restaurant may be closed for a private dining event (corporate dinner, birthday party, celebration).

The term could be applied to the dining room of private clubs, like The Bohemian Club, the St. Francis Yacht Club, or one of the many private country clubs in the area (the Olympic Club is one) as well as member-only airport lounges such as the Centurion Club.

We don't know the nature of how Maum runs its business, but they might have some sort of membership application process, initiation fee, monthly dues, etc. If this were like a country club, there might be a food & beverage minimum, meaning a certain amount of your regular dues would be F&B credit. You would be expect to spend minimum and lose any unused portion. There may be some sort of referral program if you recruit new members, perhaps there is a credit added to your account.

By its pure definition, private dining could used to describe your own kitchen table, a picnic blanket that you set up on the beach or in a park, or company's employee-only cafeteria but the term is generally used for upscale situations.

The "private" term also carries over to chefs. Private chefs cook for hand-selected clients, not for the general public.

There are probably other uses for the term "private dining" and perhaps someone else will add further scenarios to what I have mentioned.

Posted by Dif'rent strokes, a resident of another community,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Wow. The grumpy crowd quick to complain on other blog posts about what they label "skyhigh priced pretentious restaurants" will have a field day when they see this one, and maybe Hiroshi too.

Posted by Foodie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Really? Ugh.

Posted by easong, a resident of another community,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Private dining.

Isn't that what you get in a super max prison?
Why pay Palo Alto prices when you can Pelican Bay for less?

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jun 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm

I am pleased to see that someone else (easong - resident of another community) has provided another definition for "private dining."


Posted by lordy lordy , a resident of Community Center,
on Jun 30, 2017 at 7:36 am


Posted by cheeseguy, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jul 4, 2017 at 11:05 am

Really, a "high-end, private dining concept?" One goes to a "concept" to dine? I am sure it's very up-market, exclusive, high-end. This is why Berkeley has a better food scene (and more than a bit less pretentious stupidity) than Palo Alto. This is further evidence of the decline of this city.

Posted by Dif'rent strokes, a resident of another community,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:57 am

cheeseguy, a resident of Palo Verde, wrote "One goes to a "concept" to dine?"

Yup -- you've done it, every time you ate out. ("Concept" is decades-old industry jargon for a specific restaurant plan or design.)

Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

You've done it again, Elena. I got a ration of s--t from people about my comments on your article about Hiroshi's in Los Altos.

My complaint is that you report on restaurants that are so far out of reach of 99-99.5% of us...maybe only a few dozen of the Palo Alto Weekly readers can afford to eat there. So what's your point? To make us feel bad, less privileged/wealthy and more envious? It ain't working. I took a lady friend up to the Iron Gate restaurant in Belmont last week. It was a fantastic dining experience in one of the old style fine dining restaurants. Chandeliers, mirrors, soft music, linen table cloths and napkins. Steak Diane flambe and Caesar salad made at table side, abalone, yes, abalone, and so many other great offerings from fish to foul to beef, pork, veal, and lamb on their menu. We had cocktails, a split salad, one entree each, and tiramisu for dessert, and a cappuccino. Total bill with tip...$146. I'll drive a few miles for a much better meal and deal than these fancy exclusive restaurants in PA. No doubt they will survive. There are so many really rich people around that will patronize them and gloat about being able to do so.

Posted by Another......, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm

another high priced restaurant.....just what Palo Alto needs...NOT!!!

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Sounds like just another new (and potentially overpriced) PA restaurant with the usual pretentions.

Personally speaking, I'd rather opt for an In and Out burger than pay somebody $30.00 or more for a small plate of 'designer' Kim Chee.

Posted by  Dif'rent strokes, a resident of another community,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:48 pm

98 Peninsula Foodist blog posts over the past year, and all some people can think of is to complain about the 3 or 4 hign-end places Elena mentioned (ignoring the far larger numbers of inexpensive restaurants, take-out, ice-cream, and coffee shops). Folks, she reports all the restaurant news. Not all of it will interest everyone. Some people actually seem to want her to censor out the rare news about a very expensive eatery. Bizarre. Many of us like to learn about them even if we don't plan to eat there.

Other readers already very sensibly pointed out such things to Gale Johnson on the Hiroshi post (someone else adding the constructive suggestion of Hobee's, which is, after all, a very popular moderately priced local independent restaurant group). Instead of getting the point, Gale Johnson now labels all those sensible, reasoned comments "a ration of s--t."

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Hi Gale: Thanks for your comment. I write about restaurant openings and closings, from hole-in-the-wall dim sum eateries to high-end establishments. I have no "point" other than to bring readers news about the local dining scene. I appreciate the feedback and hope you continue reading.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:43 pm

Yeah, I don't understand the harshness.

No one can please everyone all the time, whether it's a politician, film director, food blogger, fashion designer, or your mom.

Elena is not tasked to only write about Reader A's favorite eateries or restaurants that only fit in Reader B's time schedule/budget/travel radius.

Some of you people really should get out of town and see what happens elsewhere.

Yes, you can probably find much of the food you want to eat in another place. Also, there might be places on this planet where you have difficulty understand the appeal of what the locals eat.

Sure, some of you probably miss the Foster Freeze in Menlo Park, the Good Earth Restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, the wide variety of out-of-business restaurants that came and went on El Camino Real, the Der Wienerschnitzel in Mountain View. Hobee's at T&C. Ming's. Chantilly.

Fine, we get it. You miss them.

But Elena can't write about those places. They are gone, mostly because there aren't enough people who like the old stuff to have kept those places in business.

People who like $400 dollar restaurants really aren't the ones driving $10 restaurants out of business. It's the people who like $15-20 restaurants who are driving the $10 restaurants out of business. Also a lot of you aren't destroying inexpensive restaurants by dining out. You are doing it by buying pre-cooked meals at supermarkets, grocery stores and big box stores like Costco and taking it home. Ready-to-bake pizza, rotisserie chicken, pre-made salads.

You people know who you are. Your recycling bins are full of clear plastic clamshell boxes since you aren't buying raw produce and cooking it yourself.

Anyhow, enjoy the rest of your evening and yesterday's leftovers from your Safeway/Costco/Whole Foods/etc. deli picnic.

Posted by Rag, a resident of University South,
on Jul 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

In my opinion your comments are just as negative and cranky as they ney sayers
everyone is entitled to an opinion and to express them - as you are
yours - let it roll

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