HL Peninsula (South SF)

Last week I noticed the sign from HL Peninsula from 101N and its now open according to one of the Chinese language FB groups. They’re part of restaurant group originating in Guangzhou. The restaurant’s webpage lists dim sum, dinner, and special occasion menus.

Anyone tried other Peninsula Group restaurants?

I am interested about their tea collection- 21 teas. Curious about that 30 year aged pu’er. $4/ pp seems a little cheap? But what’s the deal with plastic teaware and utensils? Not going to drink that tea in a plastic cup.

Dim sum selection is pretty extensive. I am trying to figure out in my brain how a har gau tastes like in a ginseng broth.

The menu looks high end. It seems like they are trying to out-compete Koi Palace. Looks like they are still going through a bunch of opening pains right now. Wait is long, still trying to figure out the food.

I wonder how many chefs they imported from Guangzhou and who the exec chef is. They got another branch in Burlingame coming up.

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Huh, I wasn’t even aware that something of this size is opening up. Though the location is kinda odd, right next to a Lowe’s.

I might give it a shot this upcoming weekend and see how it goes. Menu design actually reminds me of Dragon Beaux.

By the way, have you actually seen their dinner menu? Five dollars for garlic bread? Haha… I’m intrigued…

I did a cursory read of the menu. Garlic bread, like those sold in Cantonese bakeries? That’s an odd thing to see on a dinner menu.

I usually don’t pay too much attention to glossy menus, which don’t make the dishes more tasty.

Actually the garlic bread just reminds me of those from the set meals in cha chan tangs.

Champagne in San Mateo actually has this dish. I recently went about a month ago, but wasn’t too pleased with the lunch. Only thing that I really liked there was their baked BBQ Pork buns. They also have a weird relationship with Hing Leung (both restaurants operate in the same building). I like the congee just a bit more in the San Bruno location, but the San Mateo location technically opens a little earlier.

“A taste of South East Asia”
“Mainland specialties”

Are those types of things are never good at high-end Cantonese restaurant?

Is $20 for garlic pea sprouts a Bay Area high? (price per/lb for easier to clean greens at Western restaurants is Undoubtably higher, I’m just curious)

Yeah I’d say so. I’d say it typically averages around 13-15 for the more formal sit down restaurants.

Pea shoots aren’t dirty. They are just a PITA to pick and keep only the tender portions. You end up throwing away like half of the weight. Hence the price. But $20 is high with just garlic sauteed, without stuff like good broth, dried seafood, etc.

Just stopped by tonight to see if there’s any room. One hour wait time around 8 pm for a table of three. Yikes :confused:

Some other time!

Yikes. I think once past the initial euphora, things will be a bit more reasonable…

Hey everyone,

I was curious and decided to try lunch instead of dinner the following day. Just a note, parking lot is shared with Lowe’s and relatively ample. I arrived at HL Peninsula right when it opened and we got seats. Around 70% of the restaurant was sitting down already and I noticed that they actually have three private rooms on the right hand side right when you enter. The place reminds me of a few places in Vancouver and Toronto or Sea Harbour down in LA.

For the most part though, the place is quite roomy with high ceilings. Fish tanks are to the left of the entrance, though I’m not certain they want the public to venture forth and look at the tanks (they weren’t super full when I went, but I do recall geo duck, crabs (dungeness and king), lobster, and fish (black bass and I think I saw a turbot).

As alleged on some of the yelp reviews, people have mentioned plasticware with the cups and plates. I have attached a picture and from a visual stand point, it doesn’t look so obvious. But once you pick up the teacup (or uh… hit it against something) you can tell that the cup is extremely light and in some cases with enough light, you can actually see through it. A little bit of a let down since the restaurant appears to be more towards the high end category (Well… if we travel back 200 years ago, these things would be a marvel technically) but not a huge deal.

Their menu can be found online, but they have additional daily specials (a few items are also found within the dim sum menu) that are printed out. Price wise they are pretty high (comparable to Crystal Jade, Koi Palace, Dragon Beaux etc.) and have some interesting variations; traditional dim sum items are not too common.

Anywho, we started off with some basics. The pork and crab roe siu mai was pretty well done texture wise, though I felt it was a little bland (just a pinch more salt imo).

Next up we got the steamed beef meatballs with a dash of worcheshire sauce (at the time they didn’t have a little side dish for the sauce, but we don’t mind it placed directly onto the dish). They were steamed well, but I still find the first batch to be a little underseasoned.

Following that, our shrimp dumpling arrived! They were extremely juicy (additional soup? I don’t believe a dumpling would exude that much juice just from the shrimp) and had good texture.

After that, our steamed bbq pork buns arrived. A nice pillowy bun and the innards had good texture without the bbq pork gristle. However, the bbq pork taste just seemed a little lacking.

A bit bizarre of a start, I felt a few dishes were a little underseasoned but maybe that’s just the first hiccup.

Our meal took a bit of time, but eventually our next dish appeared. This is a little twist on the classic rice noodle roll. The noodle roll as you can see is a dark purple (from the wild rice) and within the noodle rolls are shrimp with a crispy exterior. Excellent when fresh and crispy, don’t wait too long when eating or you end up with slightly soggy shrimp mush. Soy sauce was sweet and savory as most dim sum restaurants goes (Looking at you Champagne… I have no idea why yours was more acidic…). Overall a nice dish, similar to Dragon Beaux’s rose red fish-chip rice noodle roll in terms of texture.

Out of curiosity we ordered the Shanghai dumplings just to see how it compares to other dim sum parlors and well… they felt pretty mediocre. The texture was a little too solid (now that I think about it, could it be due to the meat being refrigerated for a while for other places?) and the soup seemed a little one dimensional and mainly salty. Beyond that, the dumpling was juicy and I do like the little tin foil cups to hold the dumplings.

With another ten minutes or so, we had ordered the charcoal sweet crepe roll. I think it looks more interesting than it tastes, but in any case, the crepe itself was sweet due to the powdered sugar. I presume activated charcoal was mixed into the crepe, so there really wasn’t too much taste in that. The crepe was a bit dry and on the chewy end. Inside the crepe, was a peanut meal mixture that gave a little textural difference, similar to the fillings of a dragon beard candy.

Next I ordered a chive and shrimp dumpling soup which just turned out to be well… chive and shrimp dumplings over a bed of romaine lettuce and a dash of soy sauce. The dumplings were pretty good, though I don’t know where the soup went…

In that instant that we finished, the pan-fried mugwart leaf dumpling appeared. My folks compared the texture to mochi and the fillings inside the dumpling was pretty much the same peanut mixture in the charcoal sweet crepe roll.

We were still waiting for our xo stir fried radish cakes, so we decided to order the baked bbq pork buns. Though a little different in size, the bbq pork filling was better than the steamed ones (more savory). The exterior was not the crispy crunch that you would expect from Tim Ho Wan, but it reminded me a little of the Mexican bun that is found in Chinese bakeries. I prefer the ones in Dragon Beaux just a bit more.

At last, our XO sauteed turnip cakes arrived. I really don’t know why it took so long, but I hypothesize that the stir fry cook didn’t start work till a bit later (most of the bay area dim sum restaurants seem to have the fried rice and other stir frys avaiable after 10:30/11). In any case, each radish cake itself had distinct strips of radishes and less overall dough but the shape held together. The bean sprouts were sweet and gave a nice textural crispness to the softer turnip cakes (I wish they were pan fried a little longer). There was a hint of XO sauce but not too much sadly.

For my first impressions of the restaurant, I like to think that a large portion of the delays is the restaurant trying to figure things out (I spent over an hour and a half there most of the time waiting). Food quality seems to be pretty good, so I’ll probably check the place out in maybe half a year and see how things continue. Besides the odd plastic ware, everything looks very new. Some dishes weren’t available, as we wanted to try the lotus root cake with foie gras paste, but nothing egregious.


Oh I just remembered. On their doggie bag they listed a new location of HL Peninsula in Burlingame at 1590 Bayshore Hwy, Burlingame, California. If you look on google maps, it’s really like two blocks north of Grand Harbor. I applaud the competition but that seems tough to do business.

Hey everyone,

After failing to get dinner the first time around, I finally managed to try out this place in the evening. The restaurant seems pretty popular as a wedding destination (I’ve tried within two weekends and the first time the place was booked and the second time a wedding party was sectioned off).

Anywho, to kick off our meal, we went for the double boiled soup.

We got a relatively substantial tureen of watercress soup (soup ingredients appear to be chicken drumsticks, some chunks of pork, ham, duck gizzard, and likely pinenuts.

I don’t know how they got the soup to be so clear, but it was quite fantastic. Immensely enjoyed our soup and had plenty left over to take home.


Next up we tried the free range chicken and mushroom stew and I thought it was a little on the bland side. Chicken had little bone bits so just a bit of caution.

We ordered the seared Kurobuta pork with Chinese broccoli in cognac sauce. I enjoyed the dish though the sauce and flavors definitely over powered the chicken and mushroom stew. Flavor wise, you can imagine black pepper sauce sauteed pork with a hint of cognac. The pork meat appears to be from the pork neck region, but I would have liked the pieces just to be a little smaller (maybe cut in half?).

For our vegetable dish, we went for the sauteed assorted mushrooms and cordyceps in a wintermelon ring. Well… it didn’t quite look like the menu picture, and the wintermelon ring uhm… … was semi-circular I guess, but we had veggies. Unfortunately, this was towards the less flavorful end of the spectrum. I was hoping for some super savory sauce to balance out the wintermelon.

Lastly to end our main courses, we went for the baked sea bass rather than any fresh water fish (there was a coral grouper but I think I’ll let the wallet be a little fatter…). The fish was very well cooked and the sauce was a little bit tastier than just mayonaise (not quite sure the mixture). However, our dish was a little on the late side which likely had to do with the wedding dinner occurring at the same time.

To end the meal, we received some red bean and lotus seed dessert soup. I never really enjoyed these dessert soups, but from my brief sample it was still quite hot and not too sweet.

Overall, I quite liked their double boiled soup. I’ll have to try a few of their fresh water seafood items next time around. We wanted to try their sea snail on an ice bed but didn’t have that this time around. Some of their dishes were a little bland, but I somewhat expected that to be the case so I can’t really complain too much. I’d just say avoid eating there (or well, any restaurants) when they host weddings!

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Thanks for the report!

Did they switch to ceramics or still sticking with melamines?

Oh haha forgot about that detail.

The dinnerware had ceramic tea cups. I’m not sure if they have plastic for dim sum though.

Pinenuts? They just boiled the pinenuts in the soup or did something with it beforehand? I am trying to figure out what taste pinenuts are supposed to add to the soup if they aren’t toasted.

… I just realized I was way off lol. I meant to mean the almonds, I think bitter almond? Those that are typically used in the soup. Definitely not pine nuts… not sure why i thought that.

So based on just this one sample, how would you rank HL Peninsula among all the other Cantonese on the Peninsula?

Would the nuts in the soup be Chinese almond?

Yeah should be those almonds.

Hmm… I can’t give out a good judgment just yet on HL. I only ate there once for dim sum and once for dinner. Dim sum was when they were still opening so I can’t give a consistency basis. As for dinner, I ran right into the time they were doing a partial wedding banquet. The chicken clay pot was not that great, and the baked sea bass took way too long. For preliminary ranking, I’d give it above average. Price wise, it didn’t feel too different from Koi Palace (for uh… better or for worse). But I honestly can’t give a good judgment. I did really like their tureen though haha.

We went to HL Peninsula recently and gave their dinner another shot. I think this place is a popular banquet place as we ran into another wedding. The good part is that we sat down for our meal just before all the guests started arriving so the kitchen was still relatively free.

We ordered their set menu for 2 of their abalone meal and added an additional set of soup and abalone order for 3 people.

On the menu, they initially listed cucumber rolls, but the kitchen either didn’t have the ingredient or wasn’t willing to cook the rolls (I presume due to the wedding). They allowed us to choose any of their appetizers and we went with the spiced marinated beef shanks

The shanks were fairly garlicy and had large heaps of peppers over the beef shanks but were not too spicy. Oddly enough, cucumbers were underneath the shanks so they weren’t exactly out of cucumbers…

Anywho, they had relatively good spice and flavor but I personally didn’t care enough for it to think about ordering it next time.

We all had individual double boiled sea conch soup this time around and the little containers contained extremely hot soup! The soup was wonderful and savory with good collagen mouthfeel (probably due to that chicken foot…).

The abalone was braised with a delicious sauce, with a nice chew. The more interesting aspect is the pan fried stuffed lotus. Two thin lotus pieces basically act as bread in a sandwich with this shrimp paste mixture in the middle (so not stuffed in the lotus root holes). Crispy, crunch, with a softer paste interior gives this a really great texture.

Next up we got poached red clams over bean sprouts. They actually poached this dish really well, as the clams were not overcooked and tough. This dish is pretty much a vector for the spicy soy sauce and as such also delicious. The bean sprouts were sweet and crunchy as well.

This steamed rock cod was not part of the set meal, but rather an additional item. Steamed very well, not under or overcooked!

Part of the set meal, we got a rather hefty plate of house fried rice. I thought they did a good job with the rice grains not clumped together etc.

Probably a misstep due to the wedding, but we had to chase down our “macadamia” nuts with large shrimp. Yeah those are cashews, and the wait staff just attributed it to mistranslation. Not even sure how that got mistranslated but anyways, at this point we didn’t really care too much. The sauce was black pepper style with a hint of sweetness. The cashews were okay, and the shrimp was cooked well but large they were not…

Complimentary dessert was red bean with tapioca. I thought it had a little too much going on, but the soup was on the warmer end than hot so eh, but not too sweet.

Overall I rather liked the dinner even if the kitchen seemed busy dealing with the incoming wedding banquet. I’m rather bemused by the whole nut situation but the cooking was still quite good. The prices are still on the high side (dinner was around 200ish) though, and service and food is a little iffy when there is a large function occurring. I suggest finding a time when they don’t have large functions for dinner.