Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lunch #70: Hong Kong Bistro

Hong Kong Bistro MSG150's ever vigilant International District Intelligence and Observation Team spotted a "Grand Opening" sign last week on Maynard under the Hong Kong sign. The previous ID grand opening was the Crawfish King which is oddly and unfortunately not open for lunch and thus not subject to the MSG150 shakedown impartial review. Hong Kong Bistro is, however, a lunch spot and today MSG150 showed up with a crew of five lunchers to put it to the test.

Hong Kong Bistro, Seattle
Address: 511 Maynard Ave, Seattle, WA, 98104
Cuisine: Chinese: Hong Kong
Average rating: 3 chopsticks
Lunch date: 3/19/2009 @ 11:50:00
Time taken to be seated: 0 minutes
Time to take order: 7 minutes
Time for food to arrive: 10 minutes
Total lengh of meal: 55 minutes
Chopstix quality: Nice Plastic
Do they use MSG?: Likely, but the communication gap was too big ascertain definitively.
Where is the owner/chef from?: Hong Kong
Number of tables: 28
Number of occupied tables: 5 (17%)
Number of business lunch tables: 2 (40%)
Number of "local" tables: 3 (60%)
Healthcode Score: N/A
Links: Yelp!, Urbanspoon
Hong Kong Bistro

Luncher: Emmett

As You Like, Pick & Choose with (b) Deep Fried Pork Chop and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice NoodlesLunch: As You Like, Pick & Choose with (b) Deep Fried Pork Chop and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles - $5.25
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

Emmett's Review

From the looks of this place I was expecting another turkey like KC Kitchen or Pacific Cafe. They have a massive (and impressive) sign outside, advertising where, exactly, they're from. :) As you go in - the place is HUGE. We counted 28 tables. And on top, the menu is massive -- containing over 300 items.

Paralyzed by choice, I went with the aptly named "As you like it" with Pork Chop, Curried Fish Balls, and Chow Fun. I was expecting a platter of some kind but they came in a soup bowl with some broth, and some bok choy. This was a nice surprise, and the flavors commingled well together for a tasty meal. The pork chop was very thin, fried, and a bit grisly. The fish balls were pretty standard for what you get at these places. The broth and noodles were good. All told, it was good value for the price.

Nothing special, but they good selection and price, so I'll be back. They have some Stone Pot rice bowls that look worth trying.

Luncher: Adam

58 - Super Thin Beef Rice BowlLunch: 58 - Super Thin Beef Rice Bowl - $6.25
Rating: 2 Chopsticks

Adam's Review

I had no idea there was even a new place here! It just opened on March 2nd (there are still "congrats flowers" in the front of the restaurant). When we walked in at 11:50AM, there was only one other table of people there, but by the time we left the 2 person wait staff was being overworked. This place almost feels too clean and "corporate" to fit into the ID; I'd peg the interior as Dennys-esque.

I ordered the "Super Thin Beef Rice Bowl"... which translates into Super Rice Bowl with Thin Beef. This was a large scoop of rice with some slices of (not-so-thin) beef and grilled onions, covered in an overly sweet sauce. The meat was stringy and not very meat flavor-y. Neither the onions nor the rice were good, but that have been a function of the overly-sweet sauce.

With over 300 hundred numbered items on the menu, I'm sure something at this place has to be good... but the Super Thin Beef Rice Bowl isn't it. I liked the look of the Curry Fish Balls, and want to hear what Geary and Emmett have to say about those.

Luncher: Geary

As You Like, Pick & Choose with (c) Chinese Cabbage and Prok and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice NoodlesLunch: As You Like, Pick & Choose with (c) Chinese Cabbage and Prok and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles - $5.25
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Geary's Review

I recognized it as soon as I entered. It's another Hong Kong Tea Cafe or cha chaan teng. These seem to be sprouting up everywhere offering a mixture of Hong Kong comfort food and western bastardizations like the ketchup omelet or egg toast. Hong Kong Bistro is ambitious with a huge dining room and an even larger menu offering over 270 entrees plus drinks and deserts. After getting lost in the 150s somewhere I gave up and went with the aptly named "As You Like, Pick & Choose" with (c) Chinese Cabbage and Pork and (e) Curried Fish Balls. And I chose the Chow Fun wide rice noodles as my accompanying noodle (they do deliver in the choosing).

The place was almost empty when we arrived but traffic picked up during the meal. Service was fast and friendly. My soup (I wasn't sure what form the "As You Like, Pick & Choose" would take) arrived quickly and had a nice rich aroma. The large bowl was chocked full with broth, noodles, small bits of pork, purple pickled cabbage, crunchy veggies, and curried fish balls. It was an odd combinations but somehow all worked well together. The fish balls were not too fishy and had a treat in the center and a tasty curry sauce poured over top. The curry quickly mixed in and became one with the soup. The pork was tender and the pickled cabbage added a nice tang to the mix. My hopes were low but Hong Kong Bistro came through. Based on the size of their menu and my past experience with this particular cuisine I'm sure there are duds and even dead zones on the menu, but the "As You Like, Pick & Choose" was not one of them.

Luncher: Al

Beef with Chinese Chives Noodle SoupLunch: Beef with Chinese Chives Noodle Soup - $5.25
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

Al's Review

Many tables, many choices: picture looked better than food tasted: 3 chopsticks.

Luncher: Jared

Shrimp Wonton Noodle SoupLunch: Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup - $5.95
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

Hong Kong Bistro Photos

Hong Kong Bistro
Hong Kong Bistro

Hong Kong Bistro under Hong Kong Sign
Hong Kong Bistro under Hong Kong Sign

Hong Kong Bistro menu
Hong Kong Bistro menu

Hong Kong Bistro menu (17-57)
Hong Kong Bistro menu (17-57)

Hong Kong Bistro menu (58-117)
Hong Kong Bistro menu (58-117)

Hong Kong Bistro menu (240-312)
Hong Kong Bistro menu (240-312)

Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup
Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup

As You Like, Pick & Choose with (b) Deep Fried Pork Chop and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles
As You Like, Pick & Choose with (b) Deep Fried Pork Chop and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles

Super Thin Beef Rice Bowl
Super Thin Beef Rice Bowl

Beef with Chinese Chives Noodle Soup
Beef with Chinese Chives Noodle Soup

As You Like, Pick & Choose with (c) Chinese Cabbage and Pr0k and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles
As You Like, Pick & Choose with (c) Chinese Cabbage and Pr0k and (e) Curried Fish Balls on Rice Noodles

Huge dining room
Huge dining room

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The large neon "Hong Kong" sign is actually a throwback to the legendary "Hong Kong" restaurant which occupied the street front location from the 1940's through the 1970's. Don't think it relates to the Hong Kong Bistro per se.

GoTime said...

I can't believe I am just now stumbling upon this AWESOMENESS when you've already visited 70 restaurants! What do I have to do to get you guys to guest blog for us?? Maybe a GoTime 9 Top 9 restaurants in the international district??? pretty please ;)! keep doing what you do. love it, i'll be back.