House of Banquets, new dimsum place
On the way to our usual dimsum joint Tong Palace (Clement/11th Av), we were waylaid by a grand opening of a new place right next door! It was a cheesy "art" gallery a few weeks ago (and King of China before that?) but now outfitted as a glitzy Chinese dinner/banquet destination. Downstairs is dinner set up for hot pots. Dim sum is served upstairs, a huge room. Lots of personnel, lots of carts, and lots of mirrors and gold lame. Food was surprisingly good to excellent for all the usuals. Duck was bland and fatty, and such a meager portion, the only real disappointment. Small to "kitchen specials" run $1.95 - 4.95/plate.
Didn't eat there, but took a look inside House of Banquet (sic) when passing by yesterday. The upstairs can seat 600 for a banquet for anyone looking for a wedding reception venue. Set banquet menus start at $268 per table of 10 and range up to $788. Wo choy menus starting at $28. I could see into the kitchen which had bamboo steamers for dim sum stacked six feet tall. The owner/manager proudly pointed out the elevator (Tong Palace next door doesn't have an elevator to the second floor) and said that the kitchen is enormous to handle a giant group.
Any updates on the food?
House of Banquet
939 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118
The first time I tried to bring my parents here, it was crazy busy and we didn't want to wait for a table. We went back in December on the early side (before 11:30am) when the second floor was about half full. Personnel were quite nice but woefully understaffed. The logistics hadn't quite been worked out yet for serving such a spacious room. Big trays would come out of the kitchen, then get reallocated to smaller carts and trays behind a screen to be carried out to the dining room. Everything we tried was less than hot as a result. Also the food was rather scarce, until I took the tally card from our table and went over to the relay station to pick from the selection there. The manager wouldn't let me carry the plates back to our table myself, saying he'd bring them. But, by the time he did, they were barely warm.
The best of what we tried were very good chicken feet flavored with nam yee, not bad har gao and the shrimp crepe.
An interesting sweet, here are the green tea-flavored chewy balls filled with red bean paste.
Average were the steamed pork riblets and hom gok.
The room was so loud by the time it filled up (and there was a line in the stairwell waiting for tables) and it was so difficult to get food, we cut our lunch short and decided to leave before we'd had a full meal.
So, has anyone had dinner here?
I finally got around to trying House of Banquet last Saturday. We didn't eat there, but ordered some dim sum to take to a party. I walked in around 4 pm and asked if I could order dim sum to pick up later that evening. The hostess looked at me kind of funny and said, "Sure...you know it's Chinese New Year, right?" I wanted to pick up the food at 5:30 pm and apparently that was going to be OK. So I showed up at 5:30 on the dot and the place was rapidly filling up; literally one minute later they brought my food. I was extremely impressed by their timeliness.
I mainly just ordered steamed dumplings (usual caucasian favorites: har gow, siu mai, potstickers, etc). Everyone at the party loved the food. I don't feel qualified to critique more closely since I didn't try everything and the food wasn't eaten until 40 min later. But everything I tried was good enough that I would definitely go back. I will probably try their dinner menu next (most likely take-out).
We ate there today and were quite pleased. We arrived at noon and they were completely full with people waiting but after a few minutes we were seated at a large table with one other couple. We had foong jow, har gow, pai gwut, shrimp chang fen and siu mai (after decades of eating dim sum I'm trying to learn more names of dishes.) We never get siu mai because it always seems too dense but these looked good and were. I've seen larger chicken feet but these were tasty. The spare ribs were exceptionally meaty and tender. With two Tsingtaos, the lunch was $21 which I think is a great price. Because we no longer live in SF and only get dim sum a few times a year, I'm SURE we're not as discriminating as some people but I don't think anyone would have any complaints. We'll try to get back for non-dim sum.
re: c oliver
Back in SF for a few days and had breakfast here this morning. We got there about 915 and the carts started rolling at 930. We had gar gow, chicken feet, spare ribs, a tofu skin thingy (!) and another dumping with shrimp and some kind of green (feeling vague today). Everything was super. We really, really like this place. Five plates with tea for <$13. Time permitting, we'll be back this week. So much food, so little time :)