My parents were in town over the weekend, and instead of writing one massive report about our eating itinerary, I'll break it up into posts about each restaurant.
On Monday (President's Day), after walking up Telegraph Hill, we ended up in Chinatown around 11:30 PM and decided to check out Lai Hong Lounge for dim sum. This was my first visit. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table for 6 of us (the hostess estimated this time almost exactly when we were given our number), and in the meantime, we were able to look at the check-off menu and plan our meal.
I will attempt to remember everything we had. Overall, I was impressed, especially given the crowds. It was good value, servings were large, dim sum was fresh, and pacing was perfefct (not too slow, not too rushed). The other thing that struck me is that everything seemed big. The tofu skin rolls were larger than usual, the shrimp in every shrimp dumpling was large, shumai were huge, etc.....the downside of this is that I thought some of the wrappers were a tad overcooked, maybe to compensate for extra large dumplings? Anyway, here's my roundup:
Congee w/ sliced fish - This was excellent. A more liquidy version than at many places, with lots of ginger and tender fish slices. Served w/ a few fried donut pieces on the side, as well as scallion. We divided this up into 5 small bowls, and there was still enough for most of us to have seconds.
Tofu skin roll - Large, contained large pieces of shrimp as well as pork and bamboo shoot. Not overly sauced, and a bit hard to eat due to the size, but pretty solid.
Har gau - Very large with tender shrimp inside....but the wrappers were a bit overcooked. I'm being nit-picky though since they were pretty good.
Shumai - Again, I think each of these had an entire shrimp inside, plus pork. I think I prefer a more delicate version, but these were pretty good.
Vegetable dumpling - This had a translucent wrapper, and was mostly filled with mushrooms. I would have probably called it a mushroom dumpling. Different, and decent, but wrapper was too sticky.
Chiu Chow (Pork/Water chestnut/Peanut) translucent dumpling - Filled to the brim, these are twice as big as the dumplings I'm used to in, say, Chinatown in Boston. Overcooked wrapper, but pretty good filling. Fell apart on the plate.
Rice noodle rolls w/ beef, Rice noodle rolls w/ shrimp - These were pretty good, but not particularly better or worse than most other places.
Pan fried dumpling - Simple, tasty, but nothing too special.
Stuffed eggplant - Again, a big serving. I prefer a version with more sauce (for example, when it's floating in a big vat of it at dim sum w/ carts), but this was pretty good. Eggplant was tender and not too greasy.
Sesame balls - Filled with mung bean paste, light and airy. Good.
So, to answer Chandavkl's question from last year, my answer is YES. Lai Hong Lounge is definitely the clear choice for dim sum in SF Chinatown.