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Hong Kong Flower Lounge still tops for dim sum (long)

Alice Patis | Sep 26, 2005 06:19 PM

This post doesn’t have anything new to report, I just want to confirm (with details) that HKFL is still as good as the last time I went. Some aspects, especially the service, are even better.

This time, I went with my husband’s 4 parents/step-parents, 6 siblings/sibling-in-laws, and 1 extremely picky nephew. HKFL was selected by a sis-in-law who used to live in Millbrae, and between her & I, we did the pointing & choosing for the others. We ended up tasting a huge selection (mostly the basics; sadly none of the “weird” items). In short, everything was good to excellent, except for the beef short ribs which were rubbery and the only thing that was not gobbled up by this bunch.

The star of the day were the egg custard tarts. Never having been to GG Bakery, but ordering this at every dim sum chance I get, these are still the best in my book. Shatteringly crisp & papery puff pastry crust. Not very sweet custard, baked until set but still soft. Top did not have that icky “skin” on tarts that have been sitting. The only thing is that these are small, about 1.5 inches in diameter. And being in the presence of in-laws, I couldn’t have more than 2 without seeming like the pig I really am :-(.

Second place went to the fried sesame balls, and the exemplary service of the sesame ball guy. This guy gets the award for most patient service ever. The first time he came, we weren’t ready for dessert, so I was about to decline when my bro-in-law indicated we’ll take it. I told bro-in-law it’s better to wait until we’re actually going to eat it (it was still early; I knew we’d see some again). Others agreed so I sent the sesame ball guy on his way. About an hour later we were ready for dessert and the bro-in-law is reminding me to look for the sesame balls. Of course as you can guess, I don’t see any for a while. I was about to call over a “pink-jacket” server, when the same sesame ball guy happens by. I ask our group if we want 2, but someone at the table says just one for now. So he places one plate of 3 (cut in half) on the lazy susan and the balls disappear before the plate comes a quarter way around the table. And yup, by now, sesame ball guy is gone. But a minute later, I recognize his face so I wave him over. He has one plate of balls left on his tray. I smile at him and ask him for sesame balls. But instead of giving us his remaining plate, he sets down his tray on an adjacent work station, goes all the way to the kitchen, comes all the way back and sets down a plate of new sesame balls. As he cuts them in half, I see steam rising and I go “ooooh, they’re fresh! Can we have 2 please?” You can see his eyeballs roll all the way around to his brain now, but he silently rushes back to the kitchen, comes back in an instant with a second plate of sesame balls. Did I mention they were freshly fried, completely non-greasy, not sickenly sweet, white bean paste sesame balls? Mmmmmmmmm heaven.

The only reason the sesame balls got only second place in my mind was because the dan tat were THAT good.

Some other notes I kept in my mind:

My 1 piece of xlb got a little hole in the bottom, so no soup. I never saw the xlb again but I doubt they have soup from past experience. The steamed stuffed tofu skins are excellent, the crispy version (baked? fried?) of the same dish even more excellent. Fried taro balls are not very “lacey” but are crisp & non-greasy. Hom Sui Gok (mochi footballs) are also non-greasy, but skimpy in stuffing (though sometimes I like that). I still cannot pronounce Hom Sui Gok for the life of me so should not try anymore.

There is a really good variety of dumplings (more than I remember from before), including vegetarian. There was a funny moment when I nodded to accept a dish of chive dumplings. After the server set it down someone asked what’s inside and someone else said “maybe spinach?” and the server said “no spinach! chives!” as if only crazy people would put spinach inside (Yank Sing fans are you listening?).

Oh, and the wrappers on the har gao & a few other dumplings are very delicate here. Some were so fresh they would have benefited from the “wait 1 minute” approach, but when you’re eating with 9 others, if you wait even 10 seconds, you might not get any.

One thing I regret (and it’s my fault) is that we would only choose 1 or 2 servings at a time, and if we wanted more, the likelihood of seeing the same dish again was pretty low (and maybe that speaks of the variety there).

And you know the well-accepted theory that as distance to kitchen goes up, dim sum freshness goes down? We were there at opening time so got a choice of tables. In-laws picked one by the window with the views, but it was pretty far from the kitchen and seemingly the farthest from any of the various tray/cart routes that I could perceive. But I think we got really fresh dim sum, and only had to make requests a few times. Our requests were made solely in English and their responses were always polite and reasonably prompt. So I think all in all the Dim Sum Gods were smiling on us yesterday.

Oh, and the price was much lower than I expected! We stuffed ourselves for $15 each, including 20% tip.

Last note: when my sis-in-law had picked HKFL, I was disappointed I could not convince her try Zen Peninsula (since I know HKFL well but haven’t been to Zen P). But I guess that means I’ll have to return to Millbrae another time for Zen P, and compare the 2!

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