Friday, October 01, 2010

More Dim Sum at Hong Kong Flower Lounge

This is an occasional report on return visits to restaurants that I’ve already reviewed.

Favorite Dishes at Millbrae Classic
51 Millbrae Ave. (at El Camino Real), Millbrae
Near Millbrae BART
PH: 650.692.6666
Open daily for dim sum, lunch and dinner
Reservations (for dinner or large parties for dim sum), major credit cards accepted

Original visit: October 2009

When my Mom visits, I take her to some new restaurants, but I always make sure we go to some old reliable spots so she gets her classic Hong Kong cuisine fix. For dim sum, we'll either return to Koi Palace in Daly City or the venerable Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae.

This dim sum tea house near San Francisco International Airport still draws the crowds, and even when my Mom, sister and I came for dim sum on a Monday afternoon, the place was still packed with a lot of business lunch diners. I took my Mom here around the same time last year, and she ordered a few of the same items.

Such as this bowl of pickled pig's feet with ginger, soy and a boiled egg. I didn't try this last year. Didn't try it this year.

She also got this big plate of special joong, the sticky rice packet wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. This special joong has a variety of ingredients in the center that gives it a distinct herbal taste. Just this plate itself cost around $15, and it's a pretty big order that can fill you up making it difficult to try anything else being sold from carts circulating the room.

But we foraged on to try this plate of roast pork. My Mom was a bit upset that the waitress told her this was roasted suckling pig, which is one of her favorite things to order. But the difference between suckling pig and regular roasted pig is the tender meat, and she felt this was just like a regular pig and not a baby pig. I didn't really mind because the pieces were all tasty and tender with crispy skin.

My Mom and sister really diverged from typical dim sum dishes and went for their favorites that only they can enjoy, like this traditional steamer of tripe. While some might think tripe is chewy and tasteless, when prepared well they can be thinly sliced and tender with the sweet soy and scallion flavor. Hong Kong Flower Lounge delivered just that with their version.

Of course, you know I had to get my lai wong bao, or yellow custard buns. Earlier in my Mom's visit I had the steamed version at Koi Garden in Dublin, but I have to say the baked version is still more enticing and satisfying. Hong Kong Flower Lounge's version has a sweet custard in the center encased in a baked bun topped with a flaky substance that had a slight taste of coconut.

My Mom got this plate of Chinese jello, which I thought would be like haupia, the Hawaiian coconut gelatin dish. But it had more an almond flavor, which was OK but not as exciting if it was creamy coconut.

As you leave the restaurant, you pass this happy buddha, and everyone rubs his tummy for good luck. I just feel everyone leaving the restaurant is so stuff they probably feel like a happy buddha too.

Update experience (previously 3.5 stars): Still delivering consistently good dim sum

Hong Kong Flower Lounge on Urbanspoon


Jenster said...

Ben, was the Chinese jello bak tong go? It's hard to tell from the photo. Or was it more of that gelatin they use in almond float (the almond jello cubes mixed with fruit cocktail)? I think both are yummy.

Single Guy Ben said...

Jen, I don't think it was bak tong go. Isn't that the white layered one? I haven't had that in years! As a kid I used to like eating that layer by layer. I was OCD like that. This was more like the almond jello in the almond floats, but without the soup.

Anonymous said...

Your mom sounds like my mom; she must have "real" chinese food wherever we visit.

Dave G said...

HK Flower Lounge is a great place -- been there a couple times. Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming as there are so many choices. And I'm never sure what to take from the cart because I'm not sure what carts are yet to come. Bit of a crapshoot!

Amy Sherman said...

Have you been to Hong Kong Lounge on Geary? Curious to know what you think of it. It's probably my favorite in the City proper at the moment. Love those coffee spareribs!

Single Guy Ben said...

Amy, I've only been to HK Lounge for dinner. Once I tried to go for dim sum and it was a crazy mess. I may try again one day.

foodnut said...

Be sure to try Asian Pearl, The Kitchen, and Champagne Seafood on the Peninsula. I think these new comers have moved ahead of old school HK Flower lounge in terms of quality, decor, and new dishes.

HK Lounge Dim Sum in the City is big on value and portion size. Waiting time is problem though. Quality is decent but not up to the level of the above or Koi Palace.