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dim sum at Hong Kong Lounge

Windy Nov 23, 2008 12:43 PM

Five adults and two babies had dim sum this morning at Hong Kong Lounge on Geary & 17th Avenue (formerly Eastern Cafe and before that Parc Hong Kong and before that HK Flower Lounge). We got there at 10 when it was empty. It was packed by the time we left.

Food was uneven, but overall pretty good. Ordering is by menu but there's a complicated system where they bring back time-stamped receipts and then the person delivering the food matches a receipt to a table number, grabs the menu back, and has to check it off. This was not only ridiculous, but the paper was covered with sauce by the end.

Highlights:
siu mai. I'm not a big fan of siu mai, but these had almost a smokiness, maybe from the mushrooms
sesame balls were exemplary
pan fried noodles with seafood. Excellent tender squid, lots of shrimp.
steamed pork buns were good. The toddler happily ate two of them.

Interesting
"coffee" pork ribs, which were more like sweet and sour chicken wings
faintly gummy dumplings with bits of chicken and peanuts

Less successful:
turnip cakes were soggy and flavorless

I didn't try the chicken feet or the har gow. Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce was fine. I didn't love the sticky rice, but others polished it off. I'm sure I'm leaving a few things off. We had a ton of food.

Total was $66 including a couple of Cokes before tip, less than I expected.

Service was so so. I could barely get them to take our order even though the restaurant was empty, one man refused to cut the sesame balls in half, and servers put hot plates of food in front of a toddler multiple times. There were also a few cleanliness issues--improperly washed plates, etc. which wouldn't keep me from going back but are symptomatic of the service issues.

Anyone else been? I'm not sure I'd drive across town to eat here or stand in line, but the food was pretty good, making this a decent option in the Richmond. Made me want to go back to Mayflower and see how that's faring.

  1. rworange Nov 23, 2008 07:50 PM

    link

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    Hong Kong Lounge
    5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

    1. susancinsf Nov 24, 2008 12:16 PM

      I thought the shrimp in the har gow were very fresh, plump and tasty, but the dumpling skin was very gummy. I did like the chicken feet. There was also a tofu roll, which was ok (though I was pretty full by the time I tried it) and rice noodle roll with shrimp, which was very good. It was more than enough food for all of us, even though toddler really ate more than a two year old's share of pork buns :-)

      One other problem with the service was that everything came fairly quickly, and some items that were hot when they first arrived at table cooled off more than I would like. Like Windy, not sure I'd drive across town just to eat here, but the place does have some potential. I'd like to go back to try some more fried offerings, more seafood, and the rabbit egg custard.

      1. Melanie Wong Nov 29, 2008 01:57 PM

        After seeing your report, we headed over there on Monday. A few weeks earlier we’d discovered Eastern Café shuttered and thought we’d check out the new incarnation. The place was crazy busy with a line of people waiting at 11:40am when I arrived. Luckily Mom and my brother got there 15 minutes earlier to snag a table in the back room.

        The computer-generated ticket and marking off items as served on the check-off menu is Standard Operating Procedure at the other dim sum houses that use an order entry system. The difference here is that the paper menu is much larger in size (with bigger type). Taking up so much surface of the table, it’s impossible to not put dishes of food on the menu attracting the attendant drips and grease stains.

        I liked how the check-off menu’s arranged by style, i.e., steamed, fried, rather than by price point. Prices start at $2, and we focused our ordering at that level to try a wide selection in hopes of finding a bargain. However, other than the steamed big bun, filled with chicken and an egg, these dishes were uniformly horrible, cut with too much starch filler and lacking in flavor.

        We did have a reasonably good start with the taro dumplings, shown here, shaped in chick-like forms with slivers of almonds forming wings and a beak plus a black sesame seed eye.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/3065453416
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
        Even though the restaurant uses a menu system rather than carts, these fried dumplings were brought out at room temperature. Yet, their frilly coat was crisp and fresh except the oil-logged bottom. They were as tasty as they were cute with coarsely chopped pork and preserved greens in a nice gravy.

        Here’s the rest of what we ordered listed from good to worse -

        Good:
        Deep-fried taro dumpling, $2.75
        Pork siu mai, $2.75 – Too greasy, but good flavor with roughly chopped pork and black mushrooms, a minimal amount of shrimp and topped with orange-y roe.

        Average:
        Shrimp dumpling, $3.35 – Seemed reheated, too greasy and less than fresh tasting but made with whole shrimp
        Steamed big bun, $2 – Nice bread, but not as good as offerings from cheaper take-out places
        Fish head & belly porridge, $5 – Jook had the texture of instant cream of rice, nice gingery notes that couldn’t quite hide the muddy tasting fish

        Terrible:
        Fried pork puff, $2 – Crispy exterior, but overly thick with no air pocket, not chewy, soaked in grease
        Pan-fried turnip cake, $2 – Should be called a flour cake instead with little turnip or anything else to add flavor other than stale oil
        Sesame balls, $2 – Looked great with a dark brown crust, but again no air pocket, this was just a big sinker of a solid dough ball with gritty indeterminate filling
        Mango pudding, $2 – Thick and starchy with modest mango flavor

        We had ordered more, but after waiting more than an hour for the rest, we decided to cancel the rest of the dishes. I actually considered this a blessing since we hadn’t been pleased with much of what we did get.
        Cancelled:
        Chiu zhou dumpling, $2.75
        Steamed chicken feet, $2.75
        Tofu skin roll, $2.75

        Other than the delay in getting our full order, service was not bad considering how slammed this place was. The remodeled ladies room looked nice.

        Even though I didn’t eat much of this lunch because it failed the taste test, I still felt queasy and had a heavy lump in my stomach from all the grease. I can’t say that I’d try it again for dim sum. The cooking doesn’t even rise to the level of cheaper take-out places which produce tastier dim sum than the warmed over food here.

        Including the $1 per person tea charge, tax and tip, our tab for three of us was $32.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Melanie Wong
          susancinsf Nov 29, 2008 06:05 PM

          well ,so much for going back to try fried items....but I am sorry to hear that the sesame ball wasn't good, since Windy and I both thought it was a highlight. doesn't sound the same at all.

          The Chiu Zhou dumpling is the one that Windy describes above as faintly gummy with chicken and peanuts.

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