Four of us lunched at Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor (HKSSH) today. We were there at 1 pm. There was a less than 10 minutes wait before we were seated while the dim sum crowd was thinning and diminishing. We had four dishes.
1. Fried Rice w/Preserved Meat & Bitter Melon
We noticed the unusual combination of bitter melon and preserved meat and decided to give it a try. It had finely chopped Chinese cured sausage and bacon along with bitter melon. The ingredients all blended well together and the bitterness of the melon was not assertive (not that it would have bothered me). This was very enjoyable. As a pre-thought and it came out just right - we did not have to order extra steam rice to go with the other dishes we ordered, as the fried rice herein served as more than ample rice staple for the entire lunch. This bitter melon fried rice dish is as excellent as the Sauteed Mince beef w/Bitter melon And Egg White dish that we have tried before.
2. Taro & Pumpkin with Pine Nuts in Coconut Flavor
Again, we were attracted by the unusual combination of ingredients. From the Chinese description, we had read and expected a steamed claypot, but this really came as a soup in a ceramic pot. There was chunks of pumpkin and taro in a coconut broth swimming with pine nuts afloat. The coconut flavoring was mild and made for a pleasing, tasty, hot broth.
3. Fish Cake & String Bean w/Spicy Sauce (Four Season Bean)
The beans were tossed cooked with flat pieces of fishcake that had been previously lightly fried and browned on both sides. The cooked beans maintained its crunchiness and the spicy sauce, probably a salt pepper soy sauce combination, was just tasty right, not overly spicy. This dish was very good, but I have to confess that I like HHSSH’s Surf Clam W/String Bean & Preserved Vegetable dish a little better (surf clams over fish cake).
4. Stewed Beef Brisket & Turnip In Soup
We have had this dish before and enjoyed it, so decided on a repeat. The previous version had a nice little spicy bite to it, characteristic of Chinese turnip. I thought it was funny from the start as the chunks of what I expected to be turnip seemed too whiteish an appearance to it - liked it was not cooked long enough, except that cooking turned not to be the problem. The whiteish chunks didn’t seem to be Chinese turnip or Japanese Daikon! Adding little chopped up bits of Jalapeno and red peppers provided on the side did not transcend the flavor to restoring what I had tasted before. Not the least of the disappointment was that it came in a much smaller tureen than we had before. This was the most expensive of the four dishes we had ordered. Our repeat ordering of this dish was disappointing in taste and presentation – undoubtedly because of the excellent version we had before.
HHSSH seem to doing a good dim sum business for lunch during the weekdays as near as I can observe, even though, IMHO, I think the dim sum while good, is not exceptional. They appear trying to attract more evening customers. Outside the entrance there were two signs advertising two evening special which are now offered Monday through Thursdays for dinner only:
1. Cold Crab (Chiu Chow Style) $12.99
2. Cabezon in 2 Courses $19.99
a. Fish soup with tofu and greens
b. Sauteed fish filet
HHSSH still has not yet appeared with a “wo choy” menu – set menus of dishes for a fixed price for small family groups of four up to eight people, which is really needed to attract more customers in the evening. They have had set menus for large groups of ten and banquets only thus far.
After lunch, we went next door to the New Wing Yaun Market for fresh Ly Chee. The Ly Chee comes from Taiwan (I asked the produce man). We have purchased Ly Chee from Marina Market in San Mateo (also from Taiwan), the former Albertsons (source unknown), and seen the Ly Chee at the Milk Pail in Mountain View (box said Mexico). The Ly Chee are reddish brown to light brown. They are of the type that burst with lots of sweet juice when the skin is broken (i.e., like a good XLB). The Ly Chee pinkish meat itself is plump and juicy. Some of the seeds are “chicken tongue” variety - small pit that comes to a point. Some have slightly larger pits with a more rounded tip. Why the variability, I do not understand. The Ly Chee are selling at $1.99 a pound.