In a city like San Francisco where the Chinese population must easily hit the two digit range, it’s somewhat surprising that there isn’t a wealth of delicious dim sum restaurants. There are definitely some good ones that I’ve frequented like Gold Mountain and Ton Kiang, but I don’t know if I would say either of those places are excellent. I’ve recently discovered Hong Kong Lounge in the Outer Richmond, and I would say it’s probably one of the best, if not the best dim sum place I’ve eaten at in San Francisco. I can’t be the only that thinks so, because this place is notorious for the throngs of people lining up from the moment it opens (which happens to be 9:30am on the weekends). We probably got there before 10am and we were still forced to wait about 30 minutes!
The restaurant is quite clean and relatively well-maintained as far as Chinese restaurants go. The space is pretty spacious and unlike most typical dim sum places, they don’t have carts roaming the restaurant. Instead, you order off a menu and waiters bring it to your table. It does take away a little bit from the whole dim sum experience, but truth be told, I tend to order the same dishes each time anyways, so this way, rather than waiting for the ha gow to come around, I am ensured of getting exactly what I want without fear that they will run out.
Signature dim sum delights are the shrimp dumplings (ha gow) and pork dumplings (siu mai). These are both quite good here, plump, juicy and made with real shrimps. A definite must order which fails to disappoint.
The Fried Shrimp Dumpling was equally tasty. I know these oily dumplings aren’t as healthy as their steamed brethren, but I absolutely love the crispy outer skin.
This being my favorite dim sum dish, I was pleased that it tasted quite delicious. The rice roll was not too doughy and the shrimps were large and plump.
Even something as plain as chinese broccoli tasted notably better, fresher really.
The Coffee Pork Ribs were a moreunique dish that I’ve never had for dim sum, but it seems to be a specialty for Hong Kong Lounge. The distinct coffee-flavor was balanced with a caramelized sweetness. I would definitely order it again.
The Sticky Rice was flavorful and unctuous. The mix of pork, shrimp, and mushrooms tasted quite delicious and balanced quite nicely with the starchiness of the sticky rice.
The Pork Meat Puff was a surprisingly refined take on dim sum. The flaky puff pastry gave a buttery and airy texture which one would expect from a French pastry, but the minced meat mixture was definitely all Chinese.
I rarely eat porridge, mostly because it seems like such a plain dish to order, and my Mom always told me that it’s something you eat when you’re sick, like the Asian version of chicken noodle soup. This version with pork was quite flavorful. The pork meat was so tender that the meat feel off the bone.
The Xiao Long Bao was good, but it really was hard to compare to other restaurants that specialize in Shanghai dumplings.
The Turnip Cake was good but probably not as memorable as any of the other dishes.
All in all, the food was very good. My brother didn’t think it would be worth waiting over an hour for, but considering the scarcity of truly delicious, accesible dim sum in SF, I think Hong Kong Lounge ranks near the top. It isn’t as cheap as some other more run down places in the heart of Chinatown, but I truly think you get what you pay for. I look forward to coming back, but I probably would avoid the peak times, only because it is absurd to have to wait so long.
Hong Kong Lounge
5322 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94121
PAFO Ratings for Hong Kong Lounge:
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars