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Oct 26, 2009 10:19 AM

ABC Bakery Cafe.

New addition to the San Mateo Chinese food scene. BTW there is nothing "bakery" about this place. It's a HK style "tea cafe", serving Chinese/western style cuisine. The restaurant is new and unfortunately, it's under staffed and the staff is under trained. The food is passable HK cafe type food, plate rice, noodles, baked meat types. We had our usual curry beef tongue, the curry is tasty but there were few beef tongue. The Hainan chicken was pretty good. The service sucks big time. We'll probably go back about a couple of months to see if the service improves.

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  1. You're right, there is no separate bakery facility at this location. They have their buns and mini cakes trucked in so you can order them to go or dine in.

    At the very least I applaud this effort, because having a good pineapple bun with butter to go with a hot cup of HK milk tea is a crucial element to the Hong Kong cha chaan teng/cafe experience, where I feel Broadway Bistro (Millbrae) falls very short on theirs. And the other bakeries in the area can't seem to do an as decent pineapple bun (Sheng Kee, Sogo or even 99 Ranch....sadly Kee Wah is way too far for me even though they make the best pineapple buns thus far outside of SF). It's not Hong Kong ,and of course it's not like the cafes in SF where there's a dime a dozen (and cheap). The buns, you are probably better off getting them in the morning (assuming that's when they replenish the supplies), versus getting this in the PM or post midnight AM.

    Agreed that the staff are not terribly well trained to handle crowds of scale, so maybe they'll shape up once the anticipation and interest tapers off (maybe in 6 months or so). If I remember correctly, Broadway Bistro and Cafe Salina had these grand opening blues/kinks to overcome (even in the quality of their food).

    And yes not everything is stellar. Based on your feedback as well as others (like on Yelp), I'm of the opinion that they seem to do better on their Cantonese side of the menu. I on the other hand had a stellar meal two weekends ago, sampling the beef tendon noodle soup, as well as the beef tendon lo mein (which came with a very tasty savory dipping broth). The noodles were definitely way better than what I had at Broadway Bistro or Cafe Salina.

    The Hong Kong milk tea is only good if you dine in, and get it hot in a ceramic cup, and have some condensed milk added inside. The cold version they still need to work on, and add way too much sweetener/condensed milk and it isn't mixed very well.

    If you don't take other things into consideration, ABC is really good value since you can't get those rice plates, noodles, congee for the same price (or at all during dinner) at HK Causeway Bay around the corner. Perhaps when the new Koi Garden/Koi Palace project opens up in the former Joy Luck Place space...

    3 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Yes the potential is there. Nice looking space (although a second floor with no elevator? Lawsuit city!). Please hire more wait staff and train them.

      1. re: PeterL

        Unfortunately another big problem is their restrooms. Clean and brand new, but the sink is poorly designed. Any splashes and the water overflows to the counter, drips to the floor. It was very slippery even walking back and forth to the door...someone will get hurt.

        1. re: K K

          Just went for the first time this past weekend. The bathroom stinks. Don't they realize that if their bathrooms are nasty, you wonder how clean their kitchen and your dishes are? Yuck. My parents and I had soup noodles. I got the special seafood noodle soup. The broth was nice, not much by way of seafood at all, and wayyy too much noodles. My parents finished their soup noodles and seemed pleased enough. We also shared the preserved duck egg congee. Quite tasty. Hubby got a pork baked in some orange sauce that was on the house specials list. It looked disgusting and he barely touched it.

    2. Went with a big group last night. Thought the food was just OK--I had the noodle soup with beef tendon and roast duck. The beef tendon was tasty, but the duck was just so-so, obviously paling in comparison to places that specialize in the bbq meats. Also tried some scallion pancake and some fried garlic chicken wings, which were both fine. Service was kind of harried.

      I think the food at Cafe Salina is much better and more refined (though there, I always stick to a few tried and true items). But the prices at ABC are indeed very reasonable, and it's a bright, pleasant space.

      If in the neighborhood, I'd go back to check out the Hainan chicken rice and that pineapple bun with butter, which I totally forgot about when I was ordering.

      Cafe Salina
      235 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030

      ABC Bakery Cafe
      210 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

      1 Reply
      1. re: abstractpoet

        Agreed that cafe salina (and broadway bistro, in my opinion) are better than abc in san mateo. This is sad given the woman who runs abc is a former ms. hong kong, and thus she should know the food can/should be much better and if needed should recruit better chefs from hong kong to work at her restaurants. But alas there is no need because the place still fills up to capacity!