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OC - Ho Sum Bistro (looong) - Brunch on Sunday

k
kc girl Feb 19, 2005 12:18 PM

Okay, I'm not a food writer, but just wanted y'all to know the house wine at Ho Sum Bistro is now the only Chardonnay served by the glass and is from the Owner's brother's winery in Paso Robles. I linked a professional review for your pleasure.

Went in to Ho Sum Bistro in Newport Beach last night for a quick bite of healthy Califoriental. I was dressed quite casual after a walk and still wearing my baseball cap to cover my hair that really needed attention. No make-up. Noticed other gals were wearing their spikey heels and jeans. Some others dressed in courderoy, some in plaid and leather. One guy's hair was longer than my shoulder length mane and much grayer.

I ordered my usual half order of Ho Sum Chicken salad that I've been liking for almost ten years (and often get to go with the dressing on the side cause it wilts in a fast 15 minutes). It's simply shredded iceberg lettuce with shredded carrot, and fried crunchies (fluffy rice noodles and won ton skins). The dressing is the key here. It's a red ginger dressing (bits of ginger visible) with a hint of rice vinegar. Very tasty, IMO. And, in the mood for a warm bite, I ordered a plate of pot stickers. They are filled with chicken, subtle spices, green onions, and shredded cabbage and carrots. Two sauces served with them; a smooth apricot and a sesame-ginger-pepper. I've actually not ever ordered anything else there, but dining companions have and were pleased.

But, when it came time to choose a Chardonnay (I usually had a J. Lohr or a Kendell-Jackson there), I was told they only serve one choice of Chardonnay by the glass anymore. Okay, no problem. Gave it a try and asked about it. Turns out the owner's brother owns a winery in Paso Robles and the new "house wine" by the glass is a Monterey Chardonnay by Maloy O'Neill. It's a smooth, simple Chardonnay with a light tawny hue, doesn't linger, and goes well with the light California-Asian dishes served at Ho Sum Bistro. I wanted to take a bottle home and try it sans the Ho Sum fare and atmosphere. $22. Not too much of a mark-up from the winery price. See, http://www.maloyoneill.com/home.html (fun history info there, too
)
I have always found Ho Sum to be a very casual, easy-going yet pristine place. Typical to her, one of the waitresses checked on one of her patrons eating at the counter by bringing a fork and dipping into his dish. (I guess he's used to that) Mmmmm, thanks, she said, and continued with her duties (that included schmoozing with two new counter patrons while my pot stickers were plated. Another server standing right in from of me was happy to grab them from the cooks counter and serve me when I asked if they were mine. And, they were too hot to eat right away. okay, all okay. Keep schmoozing, gal.) I felt like I was in someone's home that I visit often. The Manager said she was quite comfortable treating her guests that way and continued talking to me for another 15 minutes while I ate at the counter, clueing me in as to why the upstairs is only open at night and on weekends > to keep available parking in the area for other businesses.

Finished half my meal and was feeling full. Brought it home and noticed as it cooled, there was a bit more oil that I'd noticed before. And, before I cashed out, I bought a dark chocolate (half-dipped) almond cookie and a fully dipped-in-dark-chocolate fortune cookie. Next time I'm in, I might ask what kind of chocolate they use. It's very creamy and melts so fast, not at all waxy, and has to stay refrigerated to stay hard. A deep dark tasty chocolate. Soo good. And, a light sweet bite.

I also asked about the champage brunch that was written in colored chalk on their neon lined chalk board. He said it's a great hit and is very, very busy. Their busiest time, I guess. Champagne is included in the price of $14.95 (yep, it went up since the magazine review that follows)

From a writing in Coast Magazine: "For those who love the concept of a leisurely Sunday midday meal, but aren't crazy about typical brunch fare, Ho Sum Bistro in Newport Beach has the cure. Their all-you-can-eat and drink Champagne and Dim Sum brunch is a tasty alternative and possibly the best deal in Newport Beach. For $13.95 enjoy a choice of salad (the Ho Sum house salad with chicken is delish) and a choice of soup (hot and sour, Chinese chicken or the excellent wonton). Following is an assortment of traditional Chinese dim sum - potstickers, dumplings, crispy chicken wantons and spring rolls are among the options - with Ho Sum's "Califoriental" healthy twist. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (949) 675-0896 for details."

It's not at all traditional Dim Sum, IMO, but I guess they have to call it something that indicates Chinese.

The only other good Sunday brunch (with free-flowing champagne included) I've seen at that price is at The Hacienda in Santa Ana (but, that's Southwestern/California fare). Really good, though. Sometimes a prime rib carving. Anyway,

I've liked Ho Sum Bistro quite a lot for years, and though the Owner gets an inkling every four years or so to find a second location, he just hasn't started another. Maybe in San Louis Obispo, I asked. But, I guess his hands-on presence just won't accomodate a second location.

Link: http://www.myoc.com/entertainment/din...

  1. m
    mojave_gal Feb 22, 2005 03:01 PM

    Thanks for the write up --- sounds like a great place! For Dim Sum lunch, are some of the standards offered like Shu Mai, Cha Chu Bao, etc.?

    2 Replies
    1. re: mojave_gal
      k
      kc girl Feb 25, 2005 07:42 PM

      Well, yes. I have seen a steamed dumpling there, but they don't call them Shu Mai or Cha Chu Bao. They are just called Ho Sum dumplings (steamed and contain chicken and vegetables and are served with a cilantro sauce) and bao (lean cuts of pork loin, barbecued and wrapped in a fluffy, steamed bun ($5.45). I have not tried them myself so I don't know how tender they are.

      Ho Sum Bistro is not your traditional Chinese restauarant, but it has redeveloped some classics. See link for a recent write up describing.

      Ho Sum's is not your standard Dim Sum offerings from a cart, so I'd really need a menu to be totally accurate of what compares to the Chinese name for the dim sum. I know they don't serve just one dim sum from a cart, as traditional. You order a plate of one item from the menu, and that has three or five or something of that dim sum that a cook prepares. It's not seconds out of a steamer when you get it. But, they call it "dim sum" anyway and serve things they usually offer on their menu of light and healthy "Califoriental" food.

      I can't find a menu online, but linked is a recent write up that lists a few items. Their potstickers have the chicken and vegetables inside. I don't recall ever seeing or smelling fish there, but they say they have Quenelles.

      I would not go there and expect a traditional dim sum served from a cart brunch. Potstickers, dumplings, crispy chicken wantons, and spring rolls are among the options called "dim sum" for their Sunday champagne brunch.

      And, they don't have a large selection of tea. They have jasmine tea and a decaf orange spice tea and a plain decaf tea.

      Link: http://www.dailypilot.com/features/st...

      1. re: kc girl
        1
        1HotTomato Aug 16, 2008 09:04 PM

        I used to live down the street and this was one of my favorite haunts!

        I prefer the Sesame Seed Chicken salad which is lighter than the other and made with romaine tossed with poached chicken breast, slivered almonds, sesame seeds and crunchies. The dressing is also a lighter, tart rice vinegar base with just enough sweetness to balance it. Served ice cold, it's a great summer treat.

        They do have quenelles, but they are chicken, not fish.

        I miss Ho Sum!

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