Last night I had dinner with ex-SF chowhounder, chibi, and her husband on her last leg of a week-long whirlwind business trip spanning London and SF. Some of her first words to me on the phone were, "Is Harbor Village really gone? I've been dreaming about it for this visit ..." Her voice was so plaintive, I hurriedly suggested Parc Hong Kong as an alternative in town that she might like nearly as well. I had been there twice earlier in the year with my mother and was interested in getting chibi's opinion. I let her handle the ordering.
Arriving at the restaurant early, I took a look at the tanks of live seafood in the back. Surf clams (aka queen's clams) were $5 each. We had two as an appetizer. While I liked the seasoned soy better than the sweeter version at Hong Kong Pavilion (linked below), the clams themselves were not cut as skillfully and were cooked a tad past maxiumum sweetness. Also they had cooled down and were nearly tepid. The sauce and scallion garnishes were quite delectable spooned onto hot steamed rice.
Next up was the bamboo "skin" and seafood bisque. This had cut up sections of the spongy bamboo fungus with nubs of shellfish in a thickened mild-tasting stock with swirls of egg white. This was alright after the addition of white pepper at the table. But this isn't one of my favorite styles of soup anyway.
Things took a turn for the better with the crispy game hen with garlic. At first chibi had wanted to order crispy chicken, a dish she's not found done well in NYC, but then she spotted the game hen on the menu. Deliciously seasoned with moist flesh and a crisp glassine-like browned skin, the bird was covered with a blizzard of deep-fried garlic bits that had a pesky way of spilling onto the table cloth. It was served headless, or as chibi said, "Guess it was sanitized for us because I ordered in English instead of Chinese."
Our fourth and final dish was Bailing mushrooms with mustard greens and oyster sauce. This was my first encounter with these giant mushrooms that look, feel, and almost taste like abalone. The mustard greens hearts were exactly on point, still a little crunchy fresh but done enough to soften and sweeten. The sauce was a bit glue-y, but still very tasty.
We skipped the complimentary tong shui and headed to Creations Dessert instead. The bill with tax and 20% tip was $60 for the three of us, which we considered quite reasonable.
* * * * * *
I'll add a quick run-through of the two dinners here with my mom. In January we came here with my brother on a busy Saturday night where nearly every other table was taken by three large groups celebrating birthdays and serenading each other from different corners of the restaurant.
We had the dishes shown below. The roast squab was good, but the skin was moist in spots and not fully crackly crisp. The best dish was the bamboo fungus, pea shoots, and creamy pieces of fried soft tofu shown in the middle. With a tasty garlic-infused sauce, it had perfect texture and balance of composition accented by a few strands of fatty-salty ham on top. My brother nodded his approval saying, "This is what Cantonese cooking is all about - so clean and simple." (Last night chibi saw this on another table and said, "that looks so good, we should have ordered that instead.") The smoked black cod was delicious too though not quite as fatty and moist as the best renditions.