Hong Kong Flower Lounge [Milbrae]

Hey everyone, I’ve just been lazy posting about a quick lunch and dinner at HKFL (around… the summertime…), but here it is.

For our dim sum lunch, I only took three photos. We ordered the usual Ha Gow and Siu Mai and they were pretty decent, just not super memorable.

The main thing I wanted to try at HK FL was their giant zongzi. We saw a table order it last time we went, and decided to eat it this time (available during the weekends and possibly holidays). But wow, if you want a filling lunch, this is what you get. There was pretty much everything inside. Dried scallops, preserved sausage, mung beans, salted eggs, etc. Overall, it was pretty good, just not a huge fan of mung beans (or well, any beans really). Price wise, it was around 14ish

Next up we got a combination rice noodle roll of Beef, BBQ Pork, Shrimp and Veggies. Well this was a whopper as well. The rice noodles were nicely done, not too sticky and not too thick. Just a little bit much on the soy sauce imo, but I figure the rice noodles are just delivery vehicles for soy sauce…

And the last picture I took was their dried scallop dumpling soup (which I can’t seem to find in their current menu). Personally I did not care for their version. The meat seemed like it was placed into a food processor and then compacted tightly. It was pretty much a solid meatball with bits of shrimp and dried scallops. Soup was fine, just the dumpling was a disappointment.

Onto dinner!

A month later or so, we had dinner at HK FL.

First off we got their double boiled soup that was the sea coconut as the base. The soup felt more on the lighter end and I wish it was a little more savory.

Next up we got a pair of the empress clams steamed over vermicelli. HK FL does an excellent job on these, steamed perfectly and not overcooked.

Our next dish, we tried their sauteed scallops which they cooked very well, insides were juicy and outside was not tough and chewy. However… I don’t think this was the best value… oh well.

Next up we got the ong choy with fermented bean curd which they did a good job (nothing really spectacular compared to other places).

On their seafood menu (they have pretty good numbers of different seafood) we went with what I think was a cod or bass of some sort (To this day, I can never truly tell them apart…). Steamed perfectly, without overcooking. I cannot complain!

The meat for tonight were garlic pan fried spare ribs. Nice and savory with a hint of sweetness.

Overall, the dinner time was a pretty good (albeit on the expensive end) meal. They have some good selection of seafood. I recall seeing the Australian lobster, the east star grouper (around 100 a pound…), rock fish, and even some eel like fish that I cannot recall.


Good report. We have a friend who, when his flight is planned for a late morning arrival, “entices” us to meet him at the SFO curb with “and then let’s have lunch at HKFL and look at the Bay and airport”.

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I remember grabbing takeout from HKFL in the evening while we were waiting for the hourly connecting Caltrain at the Millbrae station, after transferring from the SFO Bart. Quite a decent ‘in-transit’ meal after coming back from a long trip. Called while we were waiting for Bart.

Of course, we didn’t get double boiled soup. That would be way too deluxe to consume at the station.

We’ve gone there a couple of times with family. Dim sum is good, nothing spectacular, but HKFL has the best sai yun of any place.

Better than Koi’s or Cooking Papa’s?

Haha, though if you want to check out a cool view. Grand Harbor has a pretty awesome one to watch the planes land right near the bay. I haven’t tried dim sum there in quite a while, but my folks have said they improved (to how far, I don’t know…). Dinner’s on the pricey end (more than HK FL)

Ha, I recall my friends tend to run towards the In and Out.

Noted. A long time ago, on top of a Burlingame office building overlooking the lagoon on the Runway 28 approach, Kee Joon featured high end cooking and view.

Haven’t eaten at either one, sorry. HKFL’s sai yun was better than the Koi/Dublin location.

Thanks for the review. I am actually visiting SF right now. In my opinion, Hong Kong Flower Lounge wasn’t its former self. It was considered a very well established restaurant 15-20 years ago. I think the quality has gone downhill since I last tried them.

I consider Koi Palace and Tai Wu better than Hong Kong Flower Lounge now.

I think they’ve gotten a little worse after Mayflower purchased the establishment though I honestly haven’t eaten there all that much. Yeah, I think KP and Tai Wu does a better overall meal as well. I haven’t tried the Kitchen after their remodel either

My opinion is that the Kitchen is excellent at many regular dishes (small fry/小炒), and of course, it opens up to 1AM (I think), so it is great for people who want late night snacks.

By the way, did you have this type of fish?

rock cod

On my recipe, it is listed as Rock Cod. However, I don’t believe that is the proper name. I believe these are brown marble grouper (classified within grouper/石斑)

Wikipedia states: “Many other fish are sometimes referred to as rock cod, but most are unrelated to the cod family, and are better known as groupers.”

Those look like rockfish. I’m not sure which species - maybe gopher rockfish? Rockfish are the most common bottom fish along the coast here, and several species are sold locally as “rock cod” or “Pacific red snapper”. Market names are unregulated and often misleading, so should be taken with a grain of sea salt.

I looked at the wikipedia article that you referenced. It’s written about an Australian fish, although it (incorrectly, I think) says that the same species is found in California. The photo on that page doesn’t look very much like yours.

Rockfish are not cod, not are they groupers. Groupers are in the bass family (Serranidae), rockfish are in the scorpionfish family (Scorpaenidae).

Thinking back, I think the waiter actualy called it in Cantonese the mouse grouper? Though … at this point, they all look the same to me… lol.

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Got it. Thanks. Humpback grouper (老鼠斑) then. Good choice.

Your empress clam/concubine clam (is it? 貴妃蚌? (if you know Chinese)) look nice. The ong choy with fermented bean curd looks great too.

Oh yeah it was a good fish to eat. I think the meat has a nice mm… suppleness? I think the texture of the east star grouper is better but not at that price point (why in the world is it that expensive?).

Yeah they do a fairly good job (just feels a little routine) with the empress/concubine clams. I really can’t complain about dinner, just the who restaurant seems to need a little touch up or a make over now (just seems dirtier now)

I know what you mean. Even two years ago, I was thinking that it needs a touch up. On the other hand, they may have done the calculation that even with a new decoration wouldn’t bring enough business back.

I think all fishes (most anyway) can be enjoyed differently. Sometime it is nice to have an expensive fish, but sometime a lesser expensive striped bass (銀花鱸魚) and marble goby (荀殼) are good too. Maybe I will give Hong Kong Mayflower a try next time. I used to grow up in that area. At the time, Hong Kong Mayflower and Fook Yuen (馥苑) were the kings of Cantonese restaurants. Thanks for your review.

I’m trying to recall, but where exactly was Fook Yuen located? Is it that hot pot place now?

I just had fond memories of Harbor Village when I was growing up.

But yeah, each fish has a distinctive good point! I just tend to avoid the really large fish in fear they are just too “tough”.

You are right. Big fish can get rough, but only some fishes suffer this.
Yeah, Fook Yuen used to be the same location as that hot pot place. I don’t know if I know Harbor Village. Is it walking distance on El Camino just like Fook Yuen. I may know which one if it is 1 min walking distance.

Ah, that makes sense. I do recall going to Fook Yuen, but that was a long… time ago haha.

Oh, and Harbor Village was in SF

Perhaps I should give them a try during dinner some time. I was scarred by a really subpar dim sum lunch a few years ago that I still haven’t mustered up any desire to go again.