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Hong Kong Restaurant in Mountain View? [now in Palo Alto]

Melanie Wong Jul 22, 2008 01:41 PM

One of my cousins recommends Hong Kong in Mountain View for family-run, friendly hole-in-the-wall Cantonese cooking. She likes the salt & pepper crab in season.

What else do chowhounds like here?

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Hong Kong Restaurant
2650 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

  1. PeterL Jul 22, 2008 01:56 PM

    Hong Kong used to be a standard for us in this area until it got boring. They do that salt and pepper crab well. Their noodle dishes and congee are also pretty good for lunch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterL
      t
      thejulia Jul 22, 2008 02:29 PM

      did you just get bored or did the actual quality of the food decline?

    2. c
      CYL Jul 22, 2008 03:00 PM

      1. Rose wine soya chicken (mui kwai see you gai) - juicy and flavorful, comparable to Happy Bakery and Deli's
      2. Crispy salt pepper eggplant (batter deep fried)
      3. Seafood tofu which (not on menu - seafood on top of tofu steamed over lotus leaf in bamboo steamer)

      6 Replies
      1. re: CYL
        Melanie Wong Jul 22, 2008 04:52 PM

        Glad I asked! Happy Bakery makes my favorite soy sauce chicken. Been driving past this place for years and always meant to try it.

        1. re: CYL
          Melanie Wong Aug 9, 2008 10:14 PM

          Hong Kong Restaurant, Mountain View

          My brother and I tried it tonight. Nothing was bad, and while the cooking is solid, nothing was stellar either. I may have ordered badly, as everything was strongly seasoned with soy sauce, which soon grew monotonous. Here’s what we had:

          The complimentary house soup was lotus root and roast pork tonight. This was quite good and I was surprised by the quantity of lotus root served.

          Steamed surf clam – Not sliced as expertly as examples at R&G Lounge or HKFL, but still sweet and made with very fresh material. Cooked just a little too long such that the edge muscles were crunchy, however, nothing was tough. Too much soy sauce dominating the natural taste of the clam.
          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3185/2748838408_99a78841bf.jpg?v=0
          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3071/2748838410_80f0a72d0f.jpg?v=0

          Black pepper beef and choi sum chow fun – This looks gloppier than it actually was, as once mixed together, the gravy was just the right amount. The beef was tender but underseared. Good quality choi sum. Wouldn’t order this again.
          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3154/2748838404_3b077fae7c.jpg?v=0

          Soy sauce chicken (half) – The best dish. Quite strongly flavored, which seems to be the house style here. Cooked precisely to be red at the bone and tender. Somewhat flabby without the depth of flavor of a pedigreed chicken, yet still tasty.
          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3223/2748838400_f7bb2fcdf6.jpg?v=0

          Seafood steamed on soft tofu – When I’ve had this dish elsewhere, the saucing is a delicate and pale-colored sauce. I was surprised by the dark, soy-sauce based thick gravy binding together the chopped shrimp, surimi, and gai lan medallions. This tasted fine, but was different than I had expected.
          http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3257/2748838390_c9b65dd5c3.jpg?v=0

          Dinner was $40 including tax, tip and one Coke. We could have fed one more person easily. The restaurant was packed, only three open tables when we arrived at 6:30pm. The servers were efficient and friendly, couldn’t be nicer. I think it’s a good neighborhood place and deserves more exploration to find the gems on the menu. What it lacks in finesse, it makes up in quantity. I like it as much as the now closed Wyn’s in Mountain View.

          The restaurant is located in the San Antonio Inn. We had a nice two-top by the window overlooking the pool. Lots of parking here, the restaurant is just north of Long’s Drugs.
          http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2114/2...

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            c
            CYL Aug 10, 2008 11:24 AM

            The black pepper beef choi sum chow fun does look gloppy compared to others of the same and to the traditional dry-cooked beef version. The only gloppy versions of chow fun that I have ever tried and enjoyed have been Wynn's scrambled egg shrimp chow fun and Koi Place's prime rib chow fun (photos). The seafood tofu dish appears to be a more gloppy and darker-sauced version than the ones that I have had at Hong Kong. HK's crispy S & P eggplant had a potato-chip-like crispiness (have not ordered it recently since successfully duplicating it closely at home). The local modestly-priced Cantonese comfort food stations that I like are Hong Kong, Kirin, and Wynn's, which were obviously never intended to be in the class of R&G Lounge, HKFL, or KP. The HK Saigon Seafood Harbor further south in Sunnyvale is a bit more upscale (had nice steamed surf clam dish there before). Exploring the new Fu Lam Mun via several lunch visits thus far, have found them to vary all over the map from pleasantly exceeding expectations to disappointingly bland. Wynn's has been replaced by the Trend Restaurant which now features dishes from all regions of China with an expanded menu besides increased variety. The disappointment of the Wynn's closing has been somewhat eased by the new Trend which has been discovered so far to be more than acceptably good.

             
             
            1. re: CYL
              f
              fishhead Aug 10, 2008 09:49 PM

              This is the place located in a motel behind Long's Drugs at the intersection of San Antonio and El Camino, correct?

              My family has been going to this restaurant for at least five years and we usually order a fixed-menu dinner for I think $88. If memory serves correct, included are:

              o seafood soup w/tofu
              o salt and pepper crab
              o steamed catfish with black bean sauce
              o sweet and sour pork
              o sauteed mustard greens and garlic
              o stir-fried seafood basket
              o clams w/black bean sauce
              o soy sauce chicken in wine sauce

              Rice not included.

              We hadn't been in a year so when I was in the area last Spring I went with a daughter and got Hong Kong style fried noodles with seafood and salt and pepper calamari. It was disappointing in the sense that the calamari came out not quite as hot as I like and the noodle dish just didn't sing. In the past, they usually hit high marks for prompt delivery -- food really hot -- and perfectly fresh seafood. This time around they missed somehow. It was the only time I've been disappointed there.

              I'll be going back for dinner sometime for the $88 menu. I'm sure it's more now. You don't abandon a place that has served you well for years based on one lunch. This was our go-to place in the past. If the Sichuan restaurant in Target Mall in RWC wasn't a lot closer, we'd still be going there all the time.

              From the $88 menu, I have a hard time saying which are my favorites as in the past, all the dishes have been good and we trade off on which are the night's favorites. The mustard greens I love. They have always come hot hot and are wonderful. The crab, chicken, seafood and catfish are usually great. The seafood soup is good with the obligatory white pepper and vinegar, for those who like it. I'd say the clams and pork are the last favorites, but somehow we always manage to finish them off.

              I'm Chinese and usually eat there with my parents and family. My parents always run into people they know -- mostly from their church -- which is Chinese.

              Gotta go back and try. I hope this place hasn't gone bad.

              1. re: fishhead
                Melanie Wong Aug 11, 2008 11:19 AM

                Pretty impressive from memory! That dinner is now $98 to serve 6 to 8 people. The sweet and sour dish is listed as Kiang ton spareribs.

                In case anyone's interested, the $48 wo choy menu for 4 to 5 people includes:
                Soup of the day
                Sauteed scallops with vegetable
                Baked prawns with spicy salt in shell
                Clams with black bean sauce
                Kiang ton spareribs, sweet and sour sauce
                Sauteed greens
                Fresh squid with sour vegetable
                Complimentary dessert of the day

                Please do report back when you have a chance to return. Hope the kitchen hasn't gone soy sauce crazy.

                P.S. And please do give us an update on the Sichuan place in Redwood City.

              2. re: CYL
                Melanie Wong Aug 11, 2008 11:45 AM

                Here's my photo of the steamed surf clams at R&G Lounge,
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/2751098393/
                I don't recall the exact price for each clam, but I think it was in the same range. I do know that when we had this at HKFL last month, it was $6, whereas Hong Kong restaurant charges $7. Hong Kong splits the meat between the two halves of the shell for an order, but it's the same quantity per order.

                I was actually a little surprised at the price level at Hong Kong, expecting it be a little lower. The soy sauce chicken was $8.50 for a half. But it was a nicer setting and the service was good, so it seemed appropriate. I think that some of the middle price restaurants are getting squeezed and needing to raise prices, making some of the higher priced spots better deals.

                Thanks for the lead to Trend in Mountain View. Here's the thread,
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/547490 , please jump in!

                -----
                Trend Restaurant
                400 Moffett Blvd, Mountain View, CA

          2. K K Aug 12, 2008 02:43 PM

            Fantastic scrambled egg and shrimp chow fun, although a minor quibble that the chow fun noodles were a tad soggy and clumpy. Otherwise, excellent shrimp (even if from frozen), probably big and fat enough to be prawns. Juicy and flavorful, and I didn't taste any hint of bitterness (usually stems from a chef not clearing out the guts, which I think these guys did). The scrambled egg was like the egg in the egg drop soup, very smooth and runny, thin skinny like sheets texture. At $7.45 + tip this is a much better deal than HK Bistro or its big brother next door Fu Lam Mum.

            On the Chinese only white board chef specials:

            Hoi Seen Lung Jai Dou Fu - Seafood tofu (in bamboo steamer?) $10
            Jiu Yeem Keh Jee - salt and pepper eggplant $8.50
            Live garoupa (?) - $22.90 /lb
            Live black bass - $17 / lb (pricey considering the runts at your Chinese super is $9 /lb)
            Live Cabazon (stone nine grandpa) - $20 /lb (served two way)
            Dai Ban 2 way (garoupa?) - $28 served 2 way
            Steamed clams (I want to say geoduck but it is probably something else they call it gwai fei pong) - $7
            Lotus root with spare ribs (leen ngau pai gwut) - $12
            Taro with preserved duck clay pot (Wu tau lap ngap bo) - $9.50
            Something cripsy skin tofu - $10
            "golden" fin (shark's fin?) with cheese..... - $17
            dried scallops pan fried chicken patty (instead of pork) - $11.50
            all sorts of frog prep - $13
            Roast squab - $11
            Lotus root with beef brisket - $12

            6 Replies
            1. re: K K
              Melanie Wong Aug 12, 2008 06:39 PM

              KK, bless you for translating the white board! The first dish is what we ordered, see the photo of the bamboo steamer. I think the steamed clams is what I called surf clam, as the price is the same.

              Actually, not a bad price for live (swimming) black bass, as two weeks ago we had a steamed one at S&T in San Francisco for $20/lb, so that's 15% less.

              Is your report eating there today? Just asking because we're debating whether there's a downhill here. Maybe we were unlucky and got the heavy-handed cook.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                K K Aug 12, 2008 09:11 PM

                Lunch visit was today.

                I've had a few renditions of this seafood bamboo steamer tofu item, and I've to say based on your pics the sauce looks horrendously dark at HKR. The one at Mr Fong's in Foster City is pretty good, and they called it Fook Keen (Fujian) Lung Jai Dou Fou. It is supposedly somewhat similar to the good dim sum restaurant versions of Fujian/Fook Keen Fried Rice.

                I guess gwai fei pong is indeed surf clam. I didn't read this thread completely.

                This place is essentially lower Peninsula and South Bay's version of those Canto restaurants along Taraval Street in SF (reasonably priced, good mix of regular menu and chef's special dishes, decent overall but not mid scale).

                1. re: K K
                  Melanie Wong Aug 12, 2008 09:23 PM

                  I appreciate your giving it a try. Thanks for the fujian fried rice analogy, yes, that makes sense. Here's the photo of the dish as served at Jade Palace in Palo Alto before the ownership changed. It was really good, http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2125/1... .

                  I think Hong Kong Restaurant has more variety than the places I've tried on Taraval, which have such pressure to keep prices down. It also uses less MSG. (g)

              2. re: K K
                ckshen Sep 22, 2010 01:29 PM

                Usually get take out from this place if hungry on the way home from work and don't feel like cooking. Agree that the Egg Shrimp chow fun (waat daan ha yan chow hor) is great. A better rendition can be the Daimo Richmond one. But that one is also 60 70% pricier.

                Also like the Egg white scallop fried rice. Seasoning is balanced and not heavy. i ask for less oil for both dishes so that may also be a factor.

                The third thing to like is the speed. show up to order, and the food is ready within 5 minutes almost every time. it put most fastfood restaurants to shame.

                they are now running a 10 year anniversary promotion on crab. Didn't pay attention on the price, however.

                1. re: ckshen
                  vincentlo Sep 22, 2010 03:59 PM

                  With R&B in the area, I've stopped frequenting Peking Duck (which moved to Jade Palace's location earlier this year) and Hong Kong Restaurant. I honestly think out of these three restaurants, the chefs at Hong Kong Restaurant are the least skilful.

                  I still have to try out Peking Duck's Cantonese dim sum dishes by Chef Raymond, who claimed he couldn't make dim sum at their old location due to size.

                  -----
                  Jade Palace
                  151 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                  1. re: vincentlo
                    ckshen Sep 22, 2010 05:52 PM

                    I have passed by R&B many times at dinner time, but have not worked up the courage (odd as that may sound) to go in and eat since every time i only saw a table or two of folks dining inside. How's the freshness of their ingredients?

              3. Melanie Wong Jul 3, 2012 10:34 PM

                I was in Palo Alto last night. Driving down El Camino I noticed the "grand opening" signs. Hong Kong Restaurant has moved to Palo Alto. It's on the same side of the street and a block north of Da Sichuan. Funny part is that my brother and friend were in another car with a head start on me, and when I got to our destination, the first things he said was, "Did you see that Hong Kong Restaurant moved?"

                Hong Kong Restaurant
                3691 El Camino Real
                Palo Alto, CA
                650-251-9062

                5 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  ckshen Jul 6, 2012 10:57 PM

                  Same chefs. The counter lady said the old location is too old and would take too much money to renovate.

                  I got some takeouts and they tasted the same as before. Maybe folks didn't know it's moved but the restaurant was not busy for Saturday lunch.

                  1. re: ckshen
                    Melanie Wong Jul 10, 2012 09:14 PM

                    Thanks, good to hear that it moved intact. Hong Kong Restaurant was pretty reliable in my limited experience, hope business picks up.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      f
                      fishhead Jul 16, 2012 11:08 AM

                      I've been there three times since it moved to PA. See the attached menu. We had the $98, $148 and $248 menus. We were worried quality would suffer because of the move but the restaurant, if anything, has improved. I particularly like the $148 menu, which we had last night. The soya chicken and their veggie items are usually good.

                      The steamed catfish on the $98 menu might be a little funky to some but I have kind of gotten addicted to it. This is just about the only Chinese place we go to on the Peninsula regularly.

                      At around 7:00 last night the place was packed with about twenty people waiting up front for tables. We got there at 6:00 and it was already pretty full. If you go on a weekend night, it's best to reserve.

                      I think the restaurant is where the old Thai City used to be near the Shell Station. If it isn't the same location, at least it's near it.

                      About a year ago while waiting around outside the MTV location I got into a conversation with a guy who told me he had tried the restaurant early in the week and liked it so much he had returned for dinner each night thereafter. This was on a Saturday night.

                       
                      1. re: fishhead
                        Melanie Wong Jul 16, 2012 04:58 PM

                        So glad to hear that the new kitchen is giving the cooks a boost, also that the restaurant's public has found them. We had switched allegiance to R & B Seafood since it is in Palo Alto proper. But now Hong Kong is just a mile further down ECR and in easy striking distance. I think the move away from the core of Chinese places in Mountain View will be good for them.

                        Thanks so much for coming back to fill us in. Please don't be a stranger!

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          Chandavkl Jul 20, 2012 11:15 PM

                          Somehow we missed this restaurant when my son was in Palo Alto, as we tried most of the other Chinese restaurants in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Consequently we made a bee line to the new Palo Alto location. Only was able to try a couple of simple dishes--fish fillet with greens and scallop egg white fried rice, and both were excellent.

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