I was feeling like some good Dim Sum in the city and had been to Golden Mountain and it seems to have gone downhill a bit. Since I was going with someone else, we decided Yank Sing was a bit too pricey.
Searching around on Chowhound, I came across Hong Kong Lounge (or as most seem to call it... HKL). Mind you it took awhile for me to find a dim sum place in the city because most Chowhound discussions seem to deterioriate into very personal views of whether Yank Sing is "authentic" or not. But I digress, this review is all about HKL.
Reading on Chowhound and another popular "loud" review website, I learned the lines were long and we were going on a Sunday at 1pm. The lines are long but the place is very large so you just hang out inside or outside and listen very carefully for your number to be called out. They call it once in English and twice in a Chinese dialect.
Once seated, you recieve a menu and a pencil. The menu is full of vegetarian and meat options although I noticed a lack of chicken options aside from the "chicken claws". I didn't count but there are at least 50 items to chose from. This is where HKL is different than most Dim Sum spots... you order the number of plates of each dish you want, they are ordered for you and then the food comes out when it's been cooked.
This method of pre-ordering both made me happy and frustrated. The joy of a Dim Sum spot where loud carts are pushed around by even louder people pushing their foodstuffs is you get to see and smell what you might be ordering. On the other hand, if you are eating with someone those same carts and loud pushers of tasty treats can be very off putting and make conversation difficult.
The nice thing about HKL is there are plenty of regulars and they are happy to point out their favorite dishes. When I wanted to find out what a particular dumpling was like the waiter even asked me to follow him to a table in another room, introduced me to the table and allowed me a private viewing. I didn't bother the nice people by asking for a taste but they were happy to show off their selections.
This is turning into a long review so I will wrap it up. I found the customer service to be excellent and nothing like I'm familiar with further away in Chinatown. The food quality was very high and quite tasty. My dining companion and I realized right away that pork is the thing to get. Just go for anything pork and you'll probably be happy.
Baked Pork Buns - The absolute star of the show!
Steamed Pork Dumpling - I forget what these are also called, but they are the dumpling with a delicious soup inside that explodes in your mouth. Yum!
Steamed Porn Buns - Lighter and fluffier than most I've tried.
Pot Stickers - Needed some flavor but made up for with the vinegar, hot sauce and soy sauce.
Pork Siu Mai - Also needed a flavor kick but still very tasty.
Take It or Leave It:
Stuffed Eggplant - Too oily for our taste but they sat in this really good sauce that I scandalously dipped my Pork Siu Mai into with great result.
Shrimp and Scallion Dumpling - Good but we wanted more flavor and this was a two-note item without much character. I will say their shrimps tasted incredibly fresh.
Steamed Sticky Rice Roll - We thought this was going to be that tasty rice rolled up in leaves. It was not and had an off flavor I hated and my dining companion really enjoyed.
The guy next to us got Ramen noodle soup that he demolished and the smells were amazing so I plan on getting those next time.
I am giving HKL lounge 4 out of 5 stars because even the dishes we didn't like the best were still indeed good and fresh and they left us both wanting more. The service was excellent and friendly and I liked the relaxed atmosphere.
If you are checking out HKL, they are only open until 2:30, so get there very early and don't wait until 1pm like we did... we left as they were cleaning up the restaurant at 3:30.
49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105
21933 Foothill Blvd, Hayward, CA 94541
Hong Kong Lounge
5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121