3300 Geary Blvd San Francisco, CA 94118 | 415.668.8802 | website
I recently met some friends for dim sum in the City at Hong Kong Lounge II which was opened in 2012 by Annie Ho who sold the original and very popular Hong Kong Flower Lounge, so she could focus her attention on a smaller venue. The Chronicle recently rated it 3 stars and it has gotten nothing but love from the eating community as evidenced by the crowd gathered outside, so I was glad that our group of 9 was large enough that we had reservations. The cozy intimate 80-seat dining room has high ceilings and is brightly lit from tall elegantly adorned windows.
One factor that adds to the calm atmosphere is the lack of the rolling steam carts circling through the dining room, instead you order everything off the menu, which means that your dishes are cooked to order and then brought to your table.
The problem with ordering off a menu is that you arrive starving, and when you have 9 people adding to the order, that ends up being quite a feast! We sampled a great variety of dishes, the only thing we missed was the peking duck… that will have to wait for next time.
I’ll just get on with the food, there’s lots to show you. The Steamed beef tripe ($5.50) is expertly prepared, the springy tendrils were deliciously soft and tender, accompanied by a pungent dark and piquant dipping sauce. I am not generally a fan of tripe, as it usually feels like I am chewing rubber bands, but this was tender with a delicately addictive chewy texture.
We shared several orders of the Xiao Long Bao ($3.95), the soup dumplings were plump with tender meat filling and a rich broth inside.
The best way to eat the soup dumplings is to place it into a soup spoon, drizzle with the accompanying sauce of black soy infused with shredded ginger. The purpose of the spoon is so that you don’t miss the gush of pork-enriched broth when you bite into the steamed dumpling.
The restaurant is famous for their version of Baked pork buns ($3.50). The buns have a delicate crunchy top while the roast pork filling is rich, savory and sweet. We liked them without the sweet sticky coating, which can overwhelm everything else.
Salt and pepper calamari ($5.50) Crisp, spicy coating and hot, tender squid tossed with garlic, green onion and jalapeno served with a sweet and soury sauce.
The Steamed Chicken Feet ($2.95) develop the soft velvety texture from being deep-fried until puffy and inflated, then are simmered slowly in a savory sauce until soft. They end up with a gorgeously spongy, tender texture that falls off the bones in your mouth.
Steamed or boiled dumplings, wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which are sealed by pressing the edges together by crimping into delicate pleats. They were filled with ground pork and pungent garlic chives, which needed the accompanying soy sauce with vinegar.
Rice Noodle Rolls filled with fish and chives ($3.95), tender wide rice noodles are steamed and then rolled and filled with fish and chives, then drizzled with a sweetened soy sauce. This is total comfort food.
Then we had another version of fried, noodle-wrapped crullers. The slippery steamed rice noodles are wrapped around airy fried crullers served with a sweetened soy, sesame oil mixture on the side, and have a delightful crisp, slippery textural contrast, enlivened by thin slices of green onion and bits of dried shrimp.
Deep-fried rice dumpling filled with savory ground pork. The oval-shaped dumpling is made with rice-flour that is sweet and sticky, filled with a savory mixture of pork, dried shrimp, and vegetables in a light gravy, then fried to a golden brown. This creates many textures, the crisp fried crust yields to a sweet and slightly tacky dough filled with savory bites inside.
Another deep fried delight are the Taro dumplings ($3.50) which presents an even more dramatic study in contrasts. The taro is transformed into a puffy crispy, airy honeycomb crust yields to a softer layer that is slightly sweet, surrounding a center of savory pork filling,
I can never resist the fragrant Sticky-Rice-Stuffed Lotus Leaves ($3.95)
The lotus leaves are wrapped around glutinous rice that is mixed with Chinese sausage, chicken, ground pork, and crushed salted egg yolk, then steamed. The rice is quite dense and really absorbs the flavors from the assorted fillings and from the aromatic leaf.
Pan-fried pot stickers ($3.95) are not considered traditional dim sum but are always a favorite. The thick skinned dumplings are steamed then pan-fried, and plump and juicy with savory meat and cabbage filling. They were served with a chili infused sesame oil.
Steamed shrimp dumplings ($3.95), meaty pieces of shrimp, with some aromatic scallions and bamboo shoots fill the translucent yielding pouch. The wrapper is beautifully pleated and slightly chewy, with perfectly cooked and juicy shrimp inside.
Steamed short ribs ($3.95) Small sections of pork rib are coated in starch then steamed with fermented black beans, ginger, and other aromatics until tender. Each piece of meat is juicy and flavorful, it requires a bit of work to nibble all of the meat and chewy tenon around the bone while holding on with your chopsticks.
Mushrooms filled with ground shrimp ($4.25) are juicy and dosed with a savory black bean sauce and a pile of green onion.
With our large party we were able to sample quite a few desserts. The Egg custard tarts were delightfully flaky and tender and filled with the rich egg custard. I love these and am glad of their small size.
Mango pudding ($2.50) A sweet, rich mango-flavoured pudding topped with evaporated milk.
Black sesame balls ($2.95) Warm, sticky rice balls, filled with ground black sesame seeds and coated in peanut powder. I rarely have these and love the salty sweet flavors.
I wanted to try the Coconut Red bean cake ($2.25), which were light and refreshing, more of a gelatin mold style cake than one made with flour. The top layer was richly flavored from coconut milk and the bottom layer was made from sweetened red beans, which made a lovely combination.
And we end the epic feast with Steamed Custard buns, ($2.25). The smooth round buns are filled with a bright yellow custard made from eggs, sugar, butter, milk, and sweetened condensed milk that is creamy and slightly salty and impossible to resist.
We had a great time catching up on our respective lives while enjoying some excellent dim sum in a beautiful setting. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and definitely must return to explore more of the menu.