Hong Kong Bistro - coming soon to Castro, MV
I believe this is the spot next to Netto cafe. Tons of newspapers against the windows, meaning they are still working on the interior.
Huge English only signage on top says Hong Kong Bistro. I can only hope this is authentic HK style cha chan teng (HK style cafe) fare. If it is as good as Venus and Cousin in the East Bay, there is hope. If it is just a pretty decor with Top Cafe style food, count me out.
Then again this could end up being something else. Whatever it is, hopefully it fills a niche of Cantonese food of some sort missing from Food Street.
147 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA
Having been open three weeks now it would be the 91st or 92nd of the 92 places to eat currently in that little downtown.
Slick, bright, chain-looking layout (but manager said it was not a chain). In a late lunch on a blustery day I ordered one of the noodle-soup combinations to the lower right of wide plastic-coated menu card, which also shows western staples like club sandwiches. Tried a soup with fun and cha siu. Took the offer of added wontons for $2. Soup was fine with greens, cha siu highly spiced (anise-y), few meaty wonton dumplings, light broth. Hot sauce offered but didn't use it this time. Iced tea ordered with lemon came moderately sweetened but not syrupy as in parts of the US Southeast.
Would return and try more of menu. Haven't seen anything exactly like it in HK, but the 15000+ restaurants there are very diverse and i don't claim to've seen them all!
Was at the Hong Kong Bistro at 1 pm today for a light lunch. There was a 10-minute wait to be seated. I recognized the manager as the part owner I have seen at Fu Lam Mum. He was really working like a bee, moving all over from taking care of the register to serving dishes than I have seen him working before at Fu Lam Mum!
My wife ordered a roast duck noodle and I a puff pastry seafood chowder. Her dish came and even fifteen minutes later, mine had not appeared. I asked the manager what was happening and he apologetically told me that my order had been inadvertently forgotten. My wife said that the roast duck was terrible. My puff pastry was not flakey, had no puff and was a thin and rubbery membrane instead (did they short-changed the baking trying to make up for lost time?). The chowder itself was somewhat tasty, had a shrimp, a mussel, couple of small scallops, cuttle fish and some King Krab. My wife also tried a mango pudding. She liked it, but it did not do much for me.
The menu is pretty much as KK described. The noodle dishes looked as the usual fare (good but not extraordinary), the rice plates and baked casserole dishes seemed a bit teeny. Other puff pastry chowders looked good from a distance. They will not have a take-out menus to hand out until next week. The manager offered to let me have one of the laminated menus for posting if I would bring it back next week. Perhaps he was testing me to see if I would return. I did respectfully declined, a tip-off that I do not intend upon returning soon.
The place is long and narrow. A parking lot is in the back of the restaurant. They have about 4 to 5 tables outside on the street in front of the restaurant. The poor wait-persons have to carry as many dishes on both hands through the waiting crowd of people waiting to be seated and then struggle through two double doors to serve the patrons outside. It just didn’t seem like a smooth operation. Why didn’t they at least leave the doors to the outside opened? The back entrance/exit to the parking lot is not mobility friendly but a mobility friendly sign is displayed at the front entrance.
The demise of Easy Foods is no big lost, although their dumplings were good. Their roast duck and other BBQ items, though conveniently available to those living near Mountain View, were not that good. The best roast duck in Mountain View is in the Kirin Restaurant on Castro closer to El Camino (no relation to the Kirin Restaurant in S. F.). We had Kirin’s roast duck twice in recent weeks. A ½ roast duck is only $7.00 (cheaper than at some take out delis). The duck was tasty, plump, meaty, juicy, and came still hot besides to the table – delicious! The skin was crispy similar to a Peking Duck. It compares very well with roast duck from Cheung Hing in Millbrae (not as highly seasoned) or the old Jimmae Guey ducks in S. F. Chinatown. Their crispy chicken (ja jee gai) is excellent also. IMO, Kirin is the best unpretentious Cantonese food family restaurant in the South Bay! Food is excellent and prices are reasonable. Fu Lam Mun/Hong Kong Bistro does not compare to Kirin!
Lol 2nd time I (almost) brushed with another chowhound member....
I was there solo a little past 12 noon today. I was at the table in the middle nearest the cashier. To my right were an old couple with what appeared to be their grandson.
I agree, this place is not stellar. Better than Top Cafe but not by a whole lot. Baked ox tongue with spaghetti was not worth $8.50 and it tasted like a HK style "cheap steak" (back in the 80s those hole in the wall HK style western places would serve some excellent $5 steaks on iron skillets, softened with beef tenderizer) but unfortunately the tongue was overly chewy, and a bit blackened on the surface (they probably used meat hardener instead). Soggy spaghetti thrown in the mix of a ketchup sauce with not much further ingredients, and slapped together rather quickly. Veg was 2 baby carrots. Very bare bones sauce where other places might have some onions and a much thicker and richer sauce. Sigh.
Borscht soup had vinegar flavor, plus some spice. It lacked the depth and consistency that would make it authentic. No meat flavor (a good Borscht should be like a sour and spicy rich minestrone but not concentrated thick). $3 for a decent sized bowl, but it wasn't quite there.
HK style milk tea....on the overly sweet side, lacking the smoothness of the real deal (also no depth), and the house tea they used just wasn't the right one. It was light at least.
Bottom line is Venus in Fremont and Cousin in Newark are way superior and more authentic. Maybe HK Bistro's shui gow/won tons are ok, I might give them a 2nd chance and try that instead, but I don't have high hopes for the stir fried noodles/chow fun. They looked awefully greasy from observing other people's plates.
Agreed on the major service issues. Three teens walked in, took them a while before they got serviced. One of the waiters noted down this girl's order of Malaysian style fried ho fun. Then a few minutes later he had to ask her again, was it noodles or ho fun. I asked who I thought was the owner for the check, but he was too busy walking away, so I ended up asking someone else. My borscht soup first ended up at another table, where the customer immediately reacted and waved his hand (they were done with their meal and were expecting the bill). Then 1 minute later it ended up on my table. 30 seconds before that, another waiter delivered a HK milk tea to that same table (the same 2 guys who were done with their meal).
All the Feng Shui (the yin yang octagon above their entrance door, and the two large potted plants for the grand opening) couldn't save them from their service issues as well as yesterday's electronic malfunction.
Maybe they will work out the kinks a month later, but I'm definitely not rushing back.
For a new operation, Blue Sky Cafe in Belmont in comparision is kicking some serious buttage in comparison for the price to quality ratio performance (though I don't know how they will do in scale).
re: K K
I did noticed a tall, handsome gentleman eating alone at a table in the middle near the cashier eating a western baked rice dish when we were there. Was that you? Gosh, KK, just think, "if I knew then what I know now," we could have gotten together and made beaucoup good conversation about good food together !
How did you know I am tall when I was sitting down? Haha.... blush.
Where did you and your wife sit? Were you with other people? Or were you towards the back in one of the 2 persons booths?
Let's hope they are not going to mess up won tons and shui gow. That would be the last straw otherwise.
Which one of you am I going to brush against next...
re: K K
I already had your measure as we were standing, waiting to be seated, plus you're obviouly no slouch! We were against the wall to your left. I was visually examining all the dishes as they went by. Noticeing your facial expressions, the critical way you were picking away at your baked dish with your fork, and how quickly you vacated the premises, I was receiving telepathic signals that the dish/lunch was not entirely to your satisfaction. Unless we meet at a chowdown at a mutually convenient time and place, we are like ships passng in the fog.
Turns out the grand opening lunch of HK Bistro was cut a little short. At 1 pm ish or so, their computerized accounting/billing system went down. They couldn't input orders, and thus they couldn't be electronically communicated to the other end in the (cough cough) kitchen. And for some reason the cashier machine associated with it did not work.
All that feng shui in the form of the yin yang octagon on the front entrance door, plus some good luck grand opening plants, did not help the electronic hex.
At least I got to see the menu. Reasonably priced on everything and while variety is way smaller than other HK style cafes, it seemed interesting enough at least from glancing at other people's plates (the baked rice/spaghetti plates were moderately sized, not very big but should be enough for a decent meal).
For those wondering, they do have rice plates with your choice of beef brisket, chicken, beef, shrimp, bbq pork or roast duck. There's also chow fun chow mein, soups like cream of corn, cream of mushroom, and a deluxe seafood soup with a puff pastry topping. Won ton, shui gow with or w/o noodles, and baked western style rice or spaghetti plates like pork chop, ox tongue, ox tail etc with your choice of sauces (ketchup, white/cream, Portugese style, black pepper sauce). Appetizers like curry fishball, XO sauce stir fried rice noodle crepes, sandwiches, and your standard drinks like HK style milk tea, coffee, yin yang (milk tea and coffee mixed together, nothing to do with the anti hex protection that failed them today at 1pm sadly), Ovaltine and Horlicks (why someone would order this I have no idea).
Hope the hex is gone when I go back next time for the first real time... sigh.
I read somewhere that the owners are the same people who run Fu Lam (Moon) up the street next to Nami Nami (downtown Mountain View on Castro). Has nothing to do with Dessert Republic in San Mateo.
There was a sign on the door this morning when I passed by says Apr 26th or 27th... can't remember exactly.
The menu's also posted. It's also posted down the block and across the street in the Fu Lam Mum window.
Things I remember seeing -- rice plates, sandwiches, noodles, drinks.
Yep, mystery solved. Opening date is 4/26/07. Thankfully not a phusion place like 3TA or Xanh. I'm curious about the lack of Chinese signage. Hopefully it is not the same owners as Fu Lam Mum...
Future offerings include appetizers such as curry fishballs, XO sauce stir fried cheung fun/vermicelli rolls/banh cuon, garlic bread. Also on the barely legible Chinese part of the menu is won ton, shui gow/dumplings, roast duck (as a topping) with or without noodle in soup, not terribly interesting sandwiches like ham + egg, western plates such as baked pork chop over rice and I think I saw ox tongue as well, soups including borscht, cream of mushroom and I think cream of corn or chicken, and of course your standard drinks like HK milk tea, coffee, and the Yin Yang (mixing HK style coffee and milk tea together), lemon tea etc.
Well either way HKB will be a welcome addition to downtown MV, considering Food Street has been closed almost 2 years now and I doubt they will reopen (plus any new propsective business tenants will be driven away from the underground pipe sewer damage that caused Food Street to close in the first place).
Ironically even some of the better HK style cafes in the Bay Area don't do a good BBQ, like cha siu, but they do other things well. For good BBQ it looks like you have to go to a specialized place for that, e.g. Cheung Hing Noriega or select places in Chinatown (darn all too far).
In Hong Kong there are cafes that do good things all round, but specialize in certain items or signature dishes that vary from locale to locale (e.g. one place in Wanchai supposedly famous for egg tarts and coffee/iced coffee).
99 Ranch cha siu (Foster City) is incredibly horrid, last time I went instead of red with a bit of darkness here and there from carbonization through fire, the whole thing looked like it was soaked in soy sauce for years (and looked like a solid piece of soy sauce too).
Marina BBQ pork isn't bad. The trick is to ask for boon fei sau (half lean half fat) which is not entirely fatty, but has strips of fat in the cut to make it more juicy. A decadent yet comforting guilty pleasure, if you pair it with say, garlic or onion and black pepper focaccia, or garlic bread, like the kind from Cuneo Bakery that sells fresh focaccia at Millbrae farmer's market on Saturdays.
We can only hope that some restauranteur entrepreneur is willing to further upscale and Californize this HK style cafe food, e.g. using Berkshire or Niman Ranch meat for HK style BBQ. Free range organic chicken for steamed or soy sauce chicken, would be interesting, but that would keep away the frugal gourmets in us (aka Asian Cheapness).