[Burlingame] Grand Harbor

One of the newer and larger Chinese Seafood restaurants to open in recent memories (I think the name of the place did change twice though in the past year or two), I finally got to check out Grand Harbor within the year. Situated right next to the bay and south of SFO, the restaurant gives a pretty impressive view of airplane landings.

(If you squint hard enough, I think that’s a 777).

Small tables are right near the glass so I suggest grabbing those if possible; that’s one highlight if you’re a plane spotter!

I tried the dim sum last year and honestly was not impressed at all with lunch.

First off was the har gow. The wrapper was chewy and the shrimp was rather large, it just wasn’t very juicy. Maybe a little over steamed?

Next off, we got the baked bbq pork buns. The buns were rather soft with a custard like netting on top. Not exactly what I desired (was thinking more like Tim Ho Wan’s with a nice cookie shatter on top). However the bun wasn’t the sad point, mostly the filling was rather gristly.

Following the buns, we got the shrimp noodle rolls with chives. I thought they did a pretty okay job. The noodles were relatively smooth and had that expected texture. Shrimp was not over cooked and seasoned well.

The chicken feet came next. The flavors were what you expected, and the skin fell off without much of a chew.

Next we tried the aptly titled mushroom buns. The dim sum picture on the menu looked a whole lot better than what we got. The best place to compare the bun in the bay area would probably be Koi Palace (Around three years ago, had this mushroom bun at Man Wah in HK and it was delicious). In any case, the top of the bun seems to have this cocoa plaster where pieces fell off. The bottom of the bun was more soggy than anything else, but uh… the mushroom filling was okay? At the other places, there is a little piece of dough that resembled a stem on the bun; not so at Grand Harbor.

Onto the abalone siu mai. The little abalone is what you’d expect from the can but gave a nice chewy twist to the siu mai. I thought they were fine, just on the expensive end.

Next up, I got the dried scallop soup dumpling. They did a pretty good job on the soup, however the dumpling was a rather solid mess. I only can recall chunks of meat with bits of scallop.

The last item of the luncheon, the deep fried Haam Seui Gok. It was freshly fried and piping hot. Nice crisp exterior with a chewy (if not somewhat thick) interior and a good savory filling.

Overall, I wasn’t too enthused with dim sum and haven’t gone back since.

However, I was intrigued by dinner. We did go during father’s day which was somewhat lacking (too many people, too few staff, and limited menu). I didn’t really take any photos, but for the few dishes that we ordered it seemed pretty good. So we decided to come back on a quieter weekend.

Starting off our dinner, we got the traditional dinner starter… the double boiled soup.

Maybe not the cleanest looking pot, but the restaurant produced a great double boiled whelk/conch soup. Relatively clear, the broth had a sweet highly umami flavor (half the pot was pretty much pork, chicken, and whelk with occasional medicinal herbs).

Following the soup, we went with the enoki mushrooms wrapped with fatty beef. From a western perspective, the beef is considered overcooked, however I still think they did a good job searing the beef giving nice maillard notes. The sauce was delicious though, best to have a side of rice with it.

Next up we had garlic stir fried gai lan. It looked overcooked, but was actually cooked spot on . I’m thinking that they were just on the old side and droopy. Poor showing on their part but not with the actual cooking.

The main show of our dinner arrived. A nice 2ish pound grouper (which I promptly forgot its name) steamed perfectly. I can’t really say much more but a freshly steamed fish is always a win in my book.

Lastly to carb up our meal, we tried their special fried rice. I thought it was pretty well done. The rice wasn’t greasy and each grain well separated and not clumped together. The tobiko gave the rice an interesting texture. However, at this point in the meal, we were a little too full to appreciate the dish.

All in all, Grand Harbor is a nice addition in the bay area. It reminds me of the HK East Ocean seafood restaurant in Emeryville. I would definitely go back for dinner and… well… maybe dim sum (after a few years…). Just avoid the holiday weekends dinners and I think you would have a better time.


I wonder how many were munching on their dim sum and watching the unfolding of the Asiana crash…

How do their kitchen during dinner stack up against the Millbrae contingent? Was it crowded?

Good soup and good fish is the foundation of a good Cantonese meal. How’s their live seafood selection?

Yep. As for Cantonese dim sum, I think like to judge based on only a few dishes. The way I see it is that…har gow (shrimp dumpling), siu mai (pork dumplings), steamed rice noodle rolls and steamed BBQ pork bun (char siu bao), maybe chicken feet are most important to me. The Gai Lan probably has over cooked leaves, but as long as the stem is cooked right, then it is fine.

Just looking at the photos, the dim sum especially har how and siu mai seems big in size. Har gow was obviously overcooked, skin was sticky.

I always have a soft spot for ham sui gok, they looks alright, maybe I wouldn’t like to have them cut open like this, I always like them hot.

Actually it could be a matter of the ratio between wheat flour and tapioca starch. I believe the more traditional way is to use almost all wheat flour or heavy ratio of wheat flour. More recently, people like to use more tapioca starch, and you see more “crystal shrimp dumplings (水晶蝦餃)”. The traditional har gow are not see-through.

Tapioca starch gives that translucent look and make it more elastic (more difficult to break). Yours in the photo is definitely see-through. However, tapioca starch also give a sticky and chewy texture that wheat starch does not. Think bubble tea pearls.

This is why you see very different har gow texture. Some are completely opaque, and some are entirely translucent.

I could be wrong. (typing as I am running late)

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You know… you would actually be able to see it quite well, eesh.

Mmmm from when I went to dinnner, it seemed around 80-90% full on the first floor and when we were about to leave, they opened up the top floor to what appears to be some sort of family event.

Their tanks are shown to the right when you enter the restaurant. I uh, fail to take any notable pictures of the tank, but they were fairly large and had quite a bit. I recall seeing rather large spot prawns. I like these more for a soy sauce supreme pan fry than the steamed/blanched version dipped in spicy soy sauce (the smaller uh… not sure what they’re called but … sweet shrimp? tends to have a smaller head and I tend to like eating that blanched/steamed). Around 5-6 king crabs were seen (later saw them serve one). I’ve seen the australian coral trout/east star grouper among the rarer deep sea fishes (not that many, and uh… I didn’t inquire the price on that one lol). Geoduck, boston lobsters (if you want the really big ones like 8-9 lbs, I suggest Zen Peninsula), and dungeness crab were available. I had the mouse grouper last time during the slow and limited menu time during Father’s Day (never go on notable holidays lol… sigh). Overall, fairly good selection, on par with HK Flower Lounge I’d say and KP and… similar price range (bleh haha).

Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with the overall dim sum lunch. I enjoyed dinner though (the gai lan’s stem was cooked throughout and was pretty good, just the plant I think was more on the old side; the leaves didn’t seem overcooked.

_> I think this is actually the typical US style lol. They didn’t seem that much bigger than the other dim sum restaurants in Milbrae. But wasn’t impressed with the shrimp dumpling :confused:

Haha yeah, but we were getting somewhat full (and wasn’t too keen on the rest of dim sum) so we just wanted to halve it in case it was terrible…

Oh wow, now that you mention it, that is probably correct. I don’t think I’ve really paid much attention to the clarity, but the tapioca starch makes sense. I personally like things on the chewier side, so not a huge distraction for me, just didn’t quite care for the non-juicy interior :confused:

Looks like Grand Harbor is one of those rare restaurants that allow online booking for dim sum lunch service:


No OpenTable reservations are allowed on the weekend.

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