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Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor, Sunnyvale (long)

CYL | Apr 22, 200607:31 PM

I liked the Parc Hong Kong in Sunnyvale and was disappointed when it closed. The Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor replaced the PHK. I have watched the remodeling for HKSSH closely with interest after having read glowing reports about the one in Richmond. They have taken a lot of time (beyond past Chinese New Years) and expense to remodel extensively and have now opened. I did not think that the old PHK red and gold dragon or the even older Hong Sing restaurant motifs were that bad.

My wife and I made our first exploratory visit to HKSSH Sunnyvale Wednesday at 12:45 pm. The place was about 85% full and they were calling out number “60!” I hesitated from posting thus far insofar as we only had a light lunch - a sampling of my wife’s favorite dim sum dishes and the house special Hong Kong fried noodles to form a basis for comparison.

The XLBs were very small, thin skin, and stucked together in the basket such that they could not separated without breaking skin. There was a nice hint of ginger in the then broth-less XLB filling. Someone must have scared the bumble bee away from the deep-fried taro dumpling as there was only a thin crust covering instead of a humongous bumble bee nest. The taro was good and the filling was tasty. The baked BBQ pork puff had tasty filling, what little there was. The puff was mostly pastry, but at least I can say that it was flaky. The shrimp rice noodle roll had a nice amount of shrimp, but both the noodle and the shrimp were utterly tasteless; the sauce was not able to help much. We did even not bother with the egg custard tart - not my favorite. My first-blush-impression is that the dim sum is surely not on a par with Daly City Koi Palace, Millbrae Fook Yuen, Millbrae Zen Peninsula, the former Millbrae Seafood Harbor, San Mateo Joy Luck or even San Mateo Mr. Fong’s. I venture to further believe that the dim sum was better even with its predecessor, Parc Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong fried noodles dish was acceptably good, but it was not a standout. I have had equal if not better crispy fried noodles at other places and cheaper. There were only seven treasures – shrimp (good size), scallop, squid, char sui, chicken, black mushrooms, and bock choy on top of the noodles. Gravy was tasty and amount was just right, so as not to over-drench the noodles.

I got hand-out menus for dim sum, general menu (Lunch and Ala Carte), and banquet (table for ten people). The dim sum menu seem to be lacking in variety but dim sum seemed reasonably priced. There was no “sil choy” (special little dishes) or “wo choy” (family set dinner combinations for small groups of 4 to 8). One half of the entire general menu was devoted to lunch-type dishes – noodle soups, chow mein & chow fun, Chef’s special snacks, rice plates, fried rice, BBQ and Soya, porridge, and tossed noodles (I was surprised to see the porridge, seeing as it was suppose to be an up-scale restaurant). One-eight of the menu was devoted to seafood, but prices cannot be listed as they are largely seasonal. Only one-fourth of the menu was devoted to Ala Carte dishes. One-sixteenth of the menu is Saigon Village Specials. One assumed that this essentially is their equivalent to “sil choy” items. The specials consisted of fifteen dishes ranging from $9.75 to $12.75 with two at $18.00. The banquet menu for 10 people has three set-menus from $188 to $268 to $338. The menu items do not stand out, as they are general descriptions rather than specific. There is steamed live fish listed on all three menus, but there is a great difference as to whether the fish is catfish (yuk), rock cod (good), black bass (better), or coral trout (hooray!)! I expect that one would get better quality fish with the $338 menu than the $188 menu! Anyone arranging a banquet meal should have a long detail talk and understanding with management to know to what you will be sinking your choppers! HKSSH prices generally reflect an up-scale restaurant rather than a value/comfort food restaurant.

They have replaced all the tables with smaller tables for six in the middle of the large room with larger tables for ten at the sides. Maybe this was to allow dim sum carts to more easily navigate through the crowd. There is a large picture window displaying a kitchen area in the back of the room. They have a hanging display of roast duck (yuk! small pin feathers) and char sui (pink rather than red, overly lean without marbleized fat, and edges were not charred, the way I like it). There was no BBQ spare rib, and no soya or Empress Chicken or any chicken. Off to the right are tanks containing Dungeness crab, smaller hairy crab, spiny Australian lobster (huge, about 5 lbs), Maine lobster, big Cabezon (3-5 lbs), and Geoduck clams. I saw one tank with 10 coral trout, about 2 lbs size (Plectropomus Leopardus; i.e., leopard coral grouper, red dragon fish, etc.). I did not see any live frogs in any tanks, although the menu listed 5 live frog dish selections. I did not see any smaller cockle clams or coral shrimp.

There are colorful fish painted along both side walls, but no more dragons! There are still the two old Foo-dogs to guard the entrance and fish inside!

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