T’ang Court (Hong Kong)

T’ang Court
The Langham Hong Kong 1/F and 2/F
8 Peking Road
Hong Kong
Dining date: 3/13/16

T'ang Court

While planning meals over the last couple of days in Hong Kong, we wanted to fit one more dim sum lunch in. T’ang Court, a Michelin three star restaurant at The Langham, was just a couple of blocks down from the hotel and had a last-minute reservation available.

Like fellow three-star Lung King Heen, the menu was extensive even for lunch. We planned to go for one of the set tasting menus, but they were only offered for tables of 2 or 4. Oddly, neither could be tailored for a party of 3 so we went a la carte.

Dining room

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Lung King Heen (Hong Kong)

Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong 4/F
8 Finance Street
Hong Kong
Dining date: 3/10/16

Lung King Heen

Dim sum was one of the things my family and I really wanted to explore while in Hong Kong. How much better would it be in Hong Kong vs. California? My mother’s cousin, who is a frequent visitor to the territory, recommended Lung King Heen as his favorite. The restaurant at the Four Seasons, which is Michelin three-starred and ranked 99th best restaurant in the world, certainly promised to be a different kind of dim sum experience compared to what we were accustomed to.

Window seats provided plenty of views of the harbor.

View

Interior

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Tim Ho Wan (Hong Kong)

Tim Ho Wan
Olympian City G/F
18 Hoi Ting Road
Hong Kong
Dining date: 3/11/16

Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan might be the most famous Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong. The “hole in a wall” dim sum restaurant gained a star in the 2010 guide, launching it to fame as the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant (I’m not sure if it still is, particularly after dining at Ho Hung Kee). The restaurant has leveraged its success for expansion throughout Asia in recent years with outposts currently in Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. This location, at Olympian City, is one of the three Tim Ho Wans that currently hold a Michelin star in Hong Kong.

Two things surprised me about the restaurant from the beginning. First, there was no line (it was a Friday); I had read many reviews talking about some lengthy waits. Maybe we just lucked out. Second, it wasn’t a hole-in-a-wall at all! Maybe this location was just nicer; the original location relocated here in 2013. No complaints though.

Interior

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State Bird Provisions (San Francisco, CA)

State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/28/12

state bird provisions exterior

This was one of the restaurants I really wanted to try while I was in San Francisco (probably #1 on my list). Opened on the last day of 2011, it was named to numerous lists for best new restaurants of the year, including being the number one best new restaurant in America according to Bon Appetit. Stories of hours-long lines (yes, multiple hours) and consistently strong reviews fueled the buzz throughout the year.

Not surprisingly, reservations are still very difficult to come by, probably one of the most difficult in the city. I checked their website multiple times per day for a couple of weeks, and the best I could do was a party of 2 at 5:30 (looking for any availability over a week span). The day before, some cancellations yielded a 10:30 table for 4; very late, but it allowed our whole family to dine together.

One of the distinctive features of the restaurant is its use of a dim sum-like cart. It’s loaded up with a variety of dishes and pushed through the dining room, letting diners get a glimpse of the dishes before choosing.  And, if you don’t see what you want, anything can be ordered off the menu to be directly delivered to your table. It’s a fun concept that really works with a small plates restaurant, one I would expect to see duplicated…and not just in Chinese restaurants.

dim sum cart

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Lunasia (Alhambra, CA)

Lunasia
500 W Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801
Dining date: 8/27/12

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Dim sum is something that I often enjoy as a weekend lunch. It’s a very ‘social’ meal always involving the sharing of a variety of small plates. The multitude of flavors and textures is something that’s pretty unique, and it has become a sort of comfort food even though I didn’t eat it all that often growing up.

I’ve been going to the Lunasia spot for a few years now, the first time being when it was Triumphal Palace. Ownership/management changes have resulted in some name and chef changes, but I’ve enjoyed meals here pretty consistently. Long lines on the weekends tell me I’m not the only one.

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Lunasia’s ordering is menu-based; you order off a menu and the plates come directly from the kitchen. It’s not quite as playful or curiosity-inducing as the cart-based places, but I find the food to come to the table much fresher. Turnover is usually pretty quick at popular joints with the carts, but you never know how long it takes a dish to get from the kitchen to the table. My favorite “delivery model” is actually a combination of both; some places are menu-based with a handful of carts coming around – the best of both worlds.

Pictures of each dish and English descriptions is key in choosing what to order!

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Scallop Taro Cake

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A crispy exterior hid a hot filling of taro, scallop and what I think was ground pork. The sweet-salty combination was a good one, and it was fried just right.

Steamed Chicken Feet

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Hong Kong Roasted Duck

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I thought this was a well-executed roast duck with a crispy skin and succulent, moist meat. A sweet soy glaze provided extra depth in flavor.

Crispy Shrimp Roll

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This was a different one for me; small chunks of shrimp, complemented by parsley, were fried in a light batter. Loved the textures, and the shrimp and parsley were balanced well.

Shrimp Har-Gow

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A dim sum standby, I found these to be a good example. The noodle had a nice sticky chew and was packed with plump shrimp.

Pork Siu-Mai

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Another dim sum staple, these came out piping hot. I thought these were very flavorful, though a bit heavy on the fat-pork ratio.

Shanghai Dumplings

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The next thing to come out of the kitchen were these dumplings, which I found to be on the doughy side and devoid of the characteristic juicy filling. Not sure what happened here.

Pan-fried Potstickers

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I thought these simple potstickers were a disappointment too. The dough was sort of soggy and easily broke apart, not to mention being kind of oily too.

Shrimp Rice Noodle

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We rebounded with one of my dim sum favorites. Soft, glutinous noodles were wrapped around individual shrimp and drenched in soy – this simple dish was done well.

Egg-roll Rice Noodle

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This was another new item for me – shrimp paste was fried in a dough, covered in rice noodle. I liked the crispy texture that the fried dough provided, while the shrimp/rice noodle/soy combination had already proven to be a winner.

Located in the same plaza, milk tea from Tea Station was an ideal cap to the meal – always a plus when dining at Lunasia!

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There were a few misses, but due to vast menus, it’s hard to find a spot that does everything well. I found the food to come out fresh and hot from the kitchen, and the ‘highs’ greatly outnumbered the ‘lows.’ In my opinion, Lunasia remains a strong bet for dim sum in LA.

Hong Kong Lounge II (San Francisco, CA)

Hong Kong Lounge II
3300 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
Dining date: 12/24/11

HK Lounge exterior

Hong Kong Lounge (formerly Hong Kong Flower Lounge) has been a popular dim sum option in San Francisco for decades. I haven’t been there in a long time (maybe over a decade), but it’s a consistently popular place capturing much of the Richmond district dim sum market. Just earlier this month, they opened up an offshoot a few blocks from my parents house where the old Straits Cafe used to be. It was time for a return.

After a breakfast of porchetta from the Roli Roti truck and a cheeseburger from 4505 Meats at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, I awoke from a long nap hungry for something  a bit lighter. Some steamed dumplings sounded like just what the doctor ordered.

There are no carts here; everything is ordered off the menu upfront. It was just me and my dad for lunch and we ordered many of our standbys.

Shrimp Dumpling

ha gow

The skin was a bit thicker and denser than what I was anticipating, but the shrimp was plump and juicy. I prefer a thinner skin, but these were good dumplings.

Siu Mai

siu mai

In my first bite I thought to myself “these are really tender and moist.” My second thought was the realization that there was a high level of fat content, much more than I usually see. I didn’t really like this – I wanted more meat. Also, there was hardly any shrimp.

Juicy Pork Dumpling

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A little doughy but I appreciated the fact that these were quite soupy. Presentation-wise not so hot, but the porky flavor was right on.

Baked Pork Bun

pork buns

pork bun

These were interesting. I usually see the crispy stuff on the top on sweet buns filled with a cream or custard or something. Here I thought it added a nice textural element to the BBQ pork and onion filling. Not too shabby.

Shrimp Noodle

shrimp rice roll

Similar to the ha gow, the noodle was good…but a little thick and dense. The shrimp pieces were pretty large and cooked well.

Fried Pork Dumpling

salty pork dumplings

This wasn’t as flavorful as other examples I’ve had. It needed more pork filling; the glutinous skin dominated in both texture and flavor.

Fried Chicken Wings

chicken wings

These were quite good, juicy with a crispy skin. The chilies and scallions added much of the complementary flavor.

It’s been too long since I’ve been to the original so I can’t compare them, but this was pretty close to my expectations. The dim sum was good, but nothing was particularly noteworthy in the world of dim sum. All of this food was thirty dollars after tax, so I thought the price was pretty good. I suspect if my parents ate dim sum on any regular basis, this could be the spot for them out of sheer convenience. However, I’m sure they would agree with this assertion – Koi Palace is worth the drive.