Dim Sum Report
Ok, many people have mentioned dim sum picks in milbrae and recently i have been to a couple of dim sum places for lunch so i am going to give you the break down of current restaurant status.
HK flower lounge in milbrae - The dim sum quality dropped over the years. It seems like the place is just trying to make a profit off many of the food now a days. Before, they use to have XO sauce for dipping purpose and now they don't even offer it. I asked the manager about it and he mentioned a budget cut because they use to gave it out for free and they can no longer afford to. As for the regular dim sum such as Siu Mai and Har gow, i must say the food is still very fresh but the food i must say was not as good as before. The har gow was over steamed making the outside very easy to break apart. On a ten point scale, dim sum probably dropped 1.5 points from before.
Fook Yuen - A lot of people asked wheter this place was any good and i recently went back and thought this place is really bad. Not only did the quality factor dropped more than HK flower lounge, but the wait was still ridiculous and the parking is still lousy.
But now, i found a place close to Fook Yuen that was pretty good. Seafood Harbor just right down the block turns out to be a stunner. Out of the many plates i had, the only complaint i had was the Meatballs were a little overdone and the Siu Mai was not as good as it can be. Their chuern fun was very good, their dough was very smooth and soft and did not have a funny after taste like some dim sum places i have been to. I might take another trip back to report on its consistency and dinner factor but right now i think seafood harbor is a pretty good bet for dim sum around that area.
I would have to agree with you on your assessment of HKFL and Fook Yuen that the quality of dim sum has dipped slightly.
It's been a while since I've been there but have you tried the dim sum at Yet Wah in the Richmond on 23rd and Clement? It's not bad, I was really surprised at how flavorful some of the dishes, especially the fun gar and siu mai. Some of the dishes were on par with Koi Palace, Seafood Harbor and Fook Yuen.
By the way, Fook Yuen has lost its edge during dinner. I went with my family a couple weeks ago and everything we ordered tasted too salty and it didn't have that HK zing flavor or as they call it wok hay. The dishes don't leave any lasting impression that I feel I'm in HK.
I had lunch at Yank Sing in Rincon Center last Wednesday and it was standard dim sum but one dish that stood out was the fun gar. When I took that first bite, those taste sensations sent my memory bank way back to the mid sixties when my grandfather use to take me to this dim sum place on the corner of Powell and Pacific near the Broadway Tunnel when the Chinese Americans of that generation called it chong ngow and not dim sum. It brought back a wealth of fond memories of growing up in SF Chinatown. I didn't catch that taste with any fun gar at FY or HKFL or SH. They have a more HK flavor.
Another very helpful post, Mike. Really great to have the side-by-side comparison of the dim sum palaces.
HKFL was pretty short-sighted over the XO sauce. It's probably the highest priced place, it needs to offer something special to justify that. They should at least make it available. Some restaurants have a surcharge of a couple bucks if you want XO sauce.
I have not been to Fook Yuen or HKFL for a couple years because my family always ends up at Seafood Harbor. Not only is it cheaper, now we know that's it's still better.
If you use the search engine on the upper right hand corner of the Chowhound main page for "seafood harbor francisco", you'll come up with a huge number of posts on this place. This is the only site on the web with any reviews of the place or the mainstream press as far as I can tell. The Examiner did a positive review shortly before the ownership change but that's dead now.