Yes, you read that right. The Hong Kong House. A Chinese restaurant. On a pizza blog.
Over the years, this location has housed "Little Saigon," "Fast Chinese Restaurant" (love that name), and the Imperial Chinese restaurant. Given the building's facade, it will probably always house something along those lines, barring a major facelift.
So it was with some surprise that I noticed one day that word on the sign: "pizza." And after checking the menu on their MySpace page and seeing that they offer "Green Olivers" on their pizza, well, sheer curiosity took over.
Then again, who knows?, I thought. You don't have to be Italian to make good pizza, and even discounting a bit their claim to make the "best pizza in town," the menu does say that it's "bakeo in real brick oven," so it might be pretty good, I figured.
(I'm not trying to make fun of the owners themselves for the misspellings, by the way. I don't know Mandarin Chinese from a mandarin orange, and my knowledge of their language is pretty much limited to those words on the back of fortune cookie slips. But some of the menu entries I find hilarious.)
I went for the lunchtime pizza special - two slices, french fries, and a soft drink for $5. By the time my food came out, I had forgotten about the drink, and the lady at the counter said nothing, so I ended up with just the pizza and fries, but that still is a pretty good deal.
Or at least it would be if the pizza were any good. It wasn't.
The crust was very dark brown underneath, but not at all crisp. In fact, it was downright soggy, like a wet sponge. Had I kept it in its styrofoam container for very long, I might've attributed that to condensation from the steam, but it wasn't in there more than a couple of minutes.
For all its soft wetness, though, one edge of one of the slices was actually hard - so hard that it was difficult to chew through it. I began to suspect that this pizza might've been baked the night before, rescued from god knows where when a customer unexpectedly asked for pizza at lunchtime, and thrown into the microwave. Maybe not, but that might just as well be what happened, considering what I was given.
The cheese was melted and bland. The sauce was barely noticeable save for some faint herbalness. I didn't pick up any tomato flavor at all.
The fries, at least, weren't too bad. Not great, and they smelled a bit of stale cooking oil, but good enough to eat, which is more than I can say for the pizza, most of which I ended up throwing out.
Now it might seem all too easy to pick on a Chinese restaurant for its bad pizza - I mean, I wouldn't expect to get great Kung Pao chicken at an Italian restaurant. But an Italian restaurant wouldn't serve that in the first place, nor, for that matter, does your average Chinese restaurant offer pizza. So I can't cut them any slack in that regard. They chose to offer pizza, even going so far as to claim it to be the best in town. Was I surprised that it wasn't very good? Not really. But I'll hold it to the same standards as any other pizza.
I should mention, by the way, that HKH's culinary diversity goes well beyond pizza. Besides Chinese food, they also offer spaghetti, tacos, subs, souvlaki, clam chowder ... well, you get the idea.
If it were up to me, I'd say concentrate on the Chinese food and forget the other stuff. But maybe this works for them. They are open till 3 a.m. every night, and maybe if you're drunk and hungry in the wee hours this stuff tastes just fine. But stone sober in the early afternoon, I found this pizza inedible. I give it an F.
Hong Kong House, 985-B S. Clinton Ave. 244-5569, 244-6103
Mon. - Wed., Sat. & Sun. 3 p.m. - 3 a.m. Thu. & Fri. 11 a.m. - 3 a.m.