Friday, March 9, 2012
Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant--Sunnyvale, CA
Honestly, I have no idea what all the fuss was about. We got to Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant at about 11:40 last Saturday. We were told we we'd get a table in 15 minutes. We ended up waiting more than half an hour with a mass of humanity outside the restaurant. As we waited, one group of six returned from what I assumed to be a trip elsewhere to find their number had already been called. They went ballistic, giving the crowd a tutorial on how to cuss in both Cantonese and English. I definitely side with the restaurant on this one. It's not that they would have to go back to the end of the line--it was just that they'd have to wait for the next available table. Their number was called, they weren't there. What was the restaurant to do? Holding an empty table for them would be inefficient, making the wait longer for everyone else. Nevertheless, they stormed off in a huff. To me, the display was regrettable because it happened in front of my first-grade boys. However, looking at the bright side I also thought to myself, "If the crowd out here is this huge and people get that upset over missing a table, the grub here must be damn good."
Only it wasn't.
Overall, the dim sum was salty and the shao lung bao in particular was a sticky, globby, too-many-holes-in-the-skin disaster. Sure, shao lung bao is a Shanghainese dish and this dim sum was Cantonese. However, if you're gonna do a job...
They did offer dishes not found everywhere (such as lobster with noodles) and the desserts (like the mango pudding) were passable. Also, they got many of the staples right, like siu mai, gai lan and the sticky rice. However, the filling in the char siu bao had a flavor that was enough off the mark that my gluttonous son Tyler wouldn't eat it. I never thought I'd see the day.
As I sat there in the overcrowded restaurant, I spent much of the lunch trying to figure out what the big deal was, but without success. The only argument I can understand is that Hong Kong Saigon might be closer to home. But, even then, why not go the extra few miles to Dynasty or Fu Lam Lum? The dim sum will be just as good or even better and you won't be waiting at 11:40. And, even if you do wait you get to do so inside if you want.
Quick tip: Hong Kong Saigon thins out at 1:00 with no sacrifice in available variety.
Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant
1135 Lawrence Expy
Sunnyvale, CA 94089