[San Francisco, Geary] Dim sum at Hong Kong Lounge 2


#1

Hong Kong Lounge 2 is quite well known in the city for its Cantonese food and dim sum, and is on the radar of mainstream media like the Chronicle and Michelin. But even after all these years we still hadn’t been, until this weekend when we had to come up with last minute lunch ideas during our ride up to the city. Dragon Beaux was vague when we asked about the wait over the phone. HKL2 said the wait was 5 to 10 minutes so we decided to go.

Cantonese dim sum joints that are tasty and reasonably priced often suffer from excrutiatingly long wait during the weekends, when Cantonese families gather for the family meal. HKL2 falls into the category of “Somewhat good, and rather pricey”, so the wait is not as epic, but still sizable. We still ended up waiting for around 45 minutes for a table. They don’t split tables, and I wasn’t aware that they had an annex that @Hyperbowler ate in, and it didn’t seem like they were using it for lunch service.

By “somewhat good”, we both thought that the ingredients used in the dim sum were better than average. There wasn’t any sauce and seasoning that tasted like a bunch of MSG and additives, and there wasn’t the need to drink water all afternoon after the meal. All the ingredients tasted fresh and ‘clean’, which was often not the case for lower priced competitors.

But, the execution seemed a bit off in a few of the items. I’ll attribute the phenomenon to a desire to source superior better than average ingredients, but challenge to find the dim sum chef to execute at the desired level.

Xiao long bao- The dumpling skin was thin, real thin, to the point that I think almost all of them broke when lifted from the steamer, spilling all the juice inside. The wrapping technique was sloppy at best. Multiple XLBs looked like someone just randomly put them together. The pork tasted clean and fresh. $10 for 6.

Baked BBQ pork bun- Popularized by Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, the baked BBQ pork bun seems to be getting more popular everywhere now. The filling at HKL2 was way too sweet for me, that the savory to sweetness ratio was off.

The beef cheung fun was great. This dish relied on good fresh ingredients and the quality showed. The beef plus water chestnuts tasted fresh and clean, and the rendition was one of the best ones around.

Har gau/ shrimp dumpling- similar to beef cheung fun, good ingredients, i.e. the shrimp and bamboo, shined.

Fried pork puff was decent, with the filling also on the sweet side for me.

BBQ pork came with buns for a DIY bao experience. I believe they used the belly cut and the meat was both fatty and lean at the same time. More refined than the typical Cantonese roastie joint like Ming Kee and Won’s and priced accordingly, the meat part of the dish was one of the best bbq pork around the Bay. Perhaps the sauce was designed for combining the pork with the plainer tasting bun. But its overly salty and let down the bbq pork when the meat was eaten by itself.

Some of the dishes showed good potential from the use of good ingredients but occasionally the techniques and seasoning didn’t measure up to the ingredients. I haven’t been to Yank Sing for many years. But when I compare HKL2 to Yank Sing and my memory of meals there, HKL2 has a somewhat out-of-the-way location on Geary, a plain interior, prices that almost matches Yank Sing, occasionally erratic execution (for some of our items), generic teapot that pours poorly and most importantly, lacks a reservation system. Perhaps a revisit of Yank Sing is needed soon.

~$75 including tax and tips.

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#2

In regards to the annex, I have sat there for lunch and dinner before. I never found it too drastically different in terms of dishes between the two floors, but that might have been a while back. But yikes, prices are up haha.


(Prabhakar Ragde) #3

I also haven’t been to Yank Sing in years, but on my last visit, there was constant upselling by roving servers with trays, and the bill was always a shock.


#4

What were they selling you? Stuff with XO sauce and other expensive stuff?


(Prabhakar Ragde) #5

Is XO sauce expensive? It was things like Peking duck buns, seafood preparations, dumplings with fancier ingredients. They would tell you the price if you asked, but you understand the psychological pressure not to look cheap before this complete stranger who couldn’t care less. Mostly I didn’t want to be interrupted; I prefer menu-driven dim sum because I can relax and enjoy the food and company.


#6

Stuff with XO sauce usually cost more. but i guess not as much as the stuff you listed, since they only use a small amount!


#7

One of the main ingredients of XO sauce is dried scallops, so it’s relatively more expensive to make. Other ingredients include dried fish, dried shrimps or sometimes dried roe. Sometimes cured ham, I just checked the one I got from Wing Wah in Hong Kong, they include the Chinese preserved sausages.


#8

Indeed.

I find that Yang Sing costs about twice the cost as Hong Kong Lounge 2 for the same amount of food. And it’s not any better. (Often it’s a bit worse.)