Hong Kong Asian Diner

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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Lunchbox
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4 years ago

Just got back from a really nice food nerd lunch. Some really tasty stuff going on over there... Per food nerd tradition we ordered a lot of food. But it was just the right amount, we ate it all and still managed to go across the street for a donut at Fractured Prune. In short, this place is worth checking out.

I sat down to my table with 5 other diners and it was eerily quiet in there. I wish there was some music going. That was the only weird "issue" if you want to call it that... Once the restaurant started filling up with people (which happened pretty quickly shortly after noon) it got better.

I only took one photo (for some reason) of the actual food... S.D. was the official photog and I'll sure he'll follow this with pix. We started with the West Lake Beef Soup and it was great. Tofu and beef were perfect. Really nice soup.


The stand out dish to me was the tamarind duck dish (I think that's what it was? I grabbed a menu and then sat it down on my way out. :?: ) The steamed fish was also very good. I only had a bite because it was the last thing to come out and I was pretty stuffed by that point. Walnut shrimp were perfect. Don't let them sit though, eat them while they're hot. Duck feet were not good for me texturally so I didn't dig those... Several at the table commented that Bok Choy and garlic as being perfect. It was certainly the best I've ever tasted. We had a beef and noodle dish too but I don't remember what it was called. It was tasty too. I promise you we did eat though, I did take an "after" shot...


I'd go back... I would love to try their duck and steamed buns.

Hong Kong Asian Diner
9880 S Rural Road
Tempe, AZ 85284
Phone:(480) 705-7486
-- LBX

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Skillet Doux
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4 years ago

Yeah, this place is way more than solid. It looked like primarily Cantonese staples (with a few unusual dishes), but man, everything was absolutely dead on. Really impressive, gentle touch from whoever's working the kitchen.

First awesome thing? She asked which menu we wanted rather than giving us the Americanized menu and forcing us to fight her for the Chinese menu.
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West Lake Soup
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I love these Cantonese soups, and they're such a good benchmark because they're so delicate and subtle and there's nowhere to hide at all. And this was really perfect -- just the right texture, tender meat, really fresh minced cilantro -- great example of this soup.
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Duck Feet
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I don't think these are actually on the menu, and I don't blame you, Lunchbox, for not quite being into them :-) This is not the most Western-friendly dish, even given that they're deboned and the funk isn't too strong. Thing is, the funk's there. And the texture, that kind of odd, vaguely cartilaginous soft crunch, that's way, way Chinese, but I know, can be really odd if you aren't used to it. I really dug these, though. Again, just perfectly prepared. Loved the little bit of fresh chile.
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Taro Duck
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Taro duck is what you were looking for, Lunchbox. Taro's the tuber -- they mash it and (presumably) season it, coat the duck with it and fry it. So the taro gets super crisp, and the duck inside has that really soft, steamed, meltaway texture. Killer.
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Walnut Shrimp
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This is one of my favorite dishes, and this is probably the best I've had in town. Every detail here -- even the walnuts, just perfectly toasted.
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Steamed Fish
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The soul of Cantonese cuisine, right here. Simple steamed fish. Perfect.
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Beef Chow Fun
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I tend to be of the take it or leave it camp when it comes to chow fun, but again, they rocked it.
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Garlic Bok Choy
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And when you have somebody who thinks they don't like bok choy, this is the one you give them. It's not hiding -- it's all bok choy -- but man, it's like the Olympian ideal thereof. Interesting that they trim the tops. Wonder where those go.

This really was superlative Cantonese. I dig the fire and intensity of some of the other regions, but it's nice to be reminded that the gentle sublety of Cantonese can be just as special when done well. I get the sense that this is going to be the kind of place you hit up to calibrate, knowing that their version is going to be correct. Definitely looking forward to going back. And icchef told me she totally swooned over the (advance order) soy sauce chicken, so we need to make a point of doing that sometime.

Unquestionably the best Cantonese meal I've had since Mr. Zhihua was still working Miu's. This is a special place.
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
Desert Gal
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4 years ago

That steamed fish looks so delicious. Really sorry I missed this lunch.
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Mike Z
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Location: Central Tempe

4 years ago

On a semi-related side note, I figure I'm not the only one who's wondered "Why is it named West Lake Soup?" . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Lake
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azhotdish
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4 years ago

Despite the noticeable lack of music in the dining room and kind of odd-mashup of diners (mostly gorging on the lunch buffet, it seemed), the food was really great. My mind keeps going back to that walnut shrimp - it was really something else. I'm not as familiar with this dish as SkilletDoux is, but having sampled a few versions (including Hong Kong Restaurant's over-the-top-cloying version), this is the best I've had. The taro duck was equally great - even though I thought the sauce was somewhat of a weakness, they nailed the texture and flavor of that one. The garlic bok choy was also spot-on.

We're going to have to get a bigger group together and dig into that menu some more.
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

4 years ago

Whoa. Will definitely have to check this out! So close to home...
bharbeke
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Location: Chandler

4 years ago

I very much enjoyed the garlic bok choy, and I was one of those who said it was pretty much perfect. The duck taro and beef chow fun were also highlights of the lunch.

The other dishes I enjoyed to varying degrees, but they did not bowl me over.

I find it weird that the buffet is given such prominent billing in the window when it looks so crummy. They have better equivalently priced and equally Americanized offerings that they could advertise.

I will be back to Hong Kong Asian Diner at some point.
Brandon
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Tim H
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Location: Gilbert, AZ

4 years ago

bharbeke wrote:I find it weird that the buffet is given such prominent billing in the window when it looks so crummy.
Um, I work nearby and have been to Hong Kong Asian Diner many dozens of times... for the lunch buffet. What can I say? I have a deep and abiding love for American-style Chinese food. The buffet may be a bit crummy, but in the awesomest possible way. I was vaguely aware that they have a Chinese menu, but was too busy stuffing my face with crab puffs and beef with broccoli to ever ask for it.

I hereby promise to take my wife and try some authentic dishes soon. But I'll still sneak off to the lunch buffet a couple times a month.
There is nothing either good or bad but gravy makes it so. - Kevin Hearne
bharbeke
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Location: Chandler

4 years ago

The buffet food there may be really good. I certainly will never knock anything for being inauthentic or Americanized if it tastes delicious. When I was talking about it looking crummy, I meant that it was very small and off to one side. In my mind, when I think of a Chinese buffet, I think of something the size of the ones at Sizzler or Yummy Buffet with many different stations.

What dishes do they usually have at the buffet at HKAD? Do they change depending on the day, or is it pretty constant? I ask because it might be a way to get multiple items as a single diner.
Brandon
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Tim H
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4 years ago

Oh, I didn't mean my comments as a criticism just in case they came across that way -- if anything, I'm laughing at myself, but I can't help but love the American-style stuff because I grew up on it.

And honestly, the buffet really isn't anything special except that I can get my fix of chow mein, fried chicken wings, fried rice, beef with broccoli, and usually some kind of sticky gooey chicken for just a few bucks. Sometimes I just need to channel my inner Homer Simpson, and this is the spot to do it.
There is nothing either good or bad but gravy makes it so. - Kevin Hearne
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Tim H
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Location: Gilbert, AZ

4 years ago

My wife and I ordered off the authentic Chinese menu, but had a disappointing meal. The main problem is that I had no idea what to order, and we ended up with three similar “brown sauce” dishes. (The server didn’t seem to welcome questions.)

The monk’s platter was a medley of mushrooms, veggies, and fried tofu. It was fine, but I couldn’t help comparing it to Miu’s mushroom platter when they had their Cantonese chef, and it didn’t measure up. But it was an okay standard brown sauce veggie dish. The fried tofu was nice.

The fish fillet in black bean sauce was the best dish of the day, but the sauce was wimpy in comparison to other black beans sauces I’ve had. Not enough black beans or seasoning. Maybe this was deliberate because it did make the bell peppers stand out, which worked in this case because they weren’t competing with a lot of other flavors. The fish was cooked well but didn’t taste much like fish.

The shredded pork chow mein was fine, but underseasoned for me. Some of the noodles got a bit crispy from the stir fry, which we loved.

The east sea tofu was not good. It was listed under Hot Pots, and I expected something more soupy, but it was another thick brown sauce with a musty flavor. The tofu had been stuffed with some kind of seafood forcemeat (I think) that tasted of soggy cardboard. The silken tofu was good after scraping off the sauce and the stuffing. But something is wrong when my wife takes only a few bites of a tofu dish.

Service was delightfully gruff, which adds to the authentic Hong Kong experience. I asked a couple of questions about the menu but was met with monosyllabic annoyance. And it wasn’t just us -- the table next to us was met with an angry “What you want?!” upon sitting down.
There is nothing either good or bad but gravy makes it so. - Kevin Hearne
bharbeke
Posts: 71
Joined: 5 years ago
Location: Chandler

4 years ago

I can't believe it took me five months to get back here, especially since I am at this intersection on a regular basis.

I tried the Pork with Taro Hot Pot today. First of all, this meal is enormous! The pot itself holds a lot of pork, taro, and accessories, and then they give you a huge bowl of rice alongside of it. Value achieved!

The flavors in it were very good, although it got to be a little too much taro and fat for me partway through the meal. I would love to try another hot pot of theirs soon with other ingredients.
Brandon
bharbeke
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2 years ago

I tried the buffet today, and it's pretty good. A lot of what is offered is the same type of food as at the big Asian buffet restaurants, but the ingredients and preparation are all at least a step above what the competition offers. The hot and sour soup was very good, and so was the shrimp and vegetable dish.
Brandon
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NightBloom
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9 months ago

Had lunch at at Hong Kong Asian Diner with Desert Gal & The Cosmic Jester... because I've been craving it since lunch with more nerds a little over a week ago! It's been two years since I've been in and this place hasn't slipped a bit.

With just 3 of us today, we practiced great restraint and only ordered a few dishes. There are many more favourites that were skipped, like the Taro Duck and the Sweet & Sour Fish... which we'll surely order next time.
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Salt & Pepper Pork Chops
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Fish Fillet & Sausage Rolls
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Garlic Snow Pea Leaves
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Scallop Fried Rice
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West Lake Soup
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CRISTEN :)
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