81 Hong Kong Cafe: A Dining Review
Two weeks ago, Neighbor Roy gave me a clipping from the AZ Daily Star about local restaurants they recommend. One was 81 Hong Kong Cafe on East Wetmore Road in Tucson. Since I knew that Roy delights in Chinese food, I suggested to him that we give it a try. He concurred. So, on a Friday in mid-October 2022, that’s where we dined for lunch.
The place was not crowded and we were seated right away. Soon, two waitresses arrived at our table with one introducing the other as “new on the job”. The first thing we ordered were 8 pork dumplings … fried, not boiled. Our appetizer arrived quickly. Then we ordered our lunches. Roy ordered the House Lo-Mein with beef, chicken, and shrimp ($14.99). I ordered the BBQ Pork with rice and egg ($11.99).
As we waited, ever so briefly, for our orders to arrive, we had a chance to look the place over. I commented to Roy that we had dined here several years ago, but it was then under a different name and had been remodeled. This restaurant is located just a few storefronts east of Best Buy. (Editor’s note. I believe this was YEARS, just before the Pandemic.) The remodeling looked great, with a re-fashioned bar, and cartoonish characters drawn on the walls. The overhead lighting was pleasant and there was no background music … thankfully. In so many places in which we have dined, the music is so loud as to disturb our conversations.
I’ll let Roy tell you about his experience.
“Today we dined at a relatively new Chinese Restaurant in a familiar spot we had reviewed in the past under different ownership. The new restaurant is now called 81 Hong Kong and is located in the Best Buy shopping center on East Wetmore street.
We were promptly seated by 2 young ladies, one of whom introduced the other as being her first day–my heart goes out to anyone new on the job–have been there myself and know how anxious it can be. Menus were presented, and water was provided.
As in most Chinese restaurants, the menu is extensive. I ordered my test dish of House Lo-Mein to see if the noodles are fresh or store-bought. They turned out to be homemade. We started off with pan-fried pork dumplings. These dumplings were 8 for $6.99. I THINK THESE WERE THE BEST DUMPLINGS I HAVE HAD IN ANY TUCSON restaurant. When my dish arrived, it had that 3-meals-in-a-bowl look. Most Tucson Chinese restaurants are generous with portions–and this restaurant was no exception. I did order oolong tea, my one complaint was that it cost $2.99 a cup.
I would give it 4 saguaros, for her first day on the job our server gets a thumbs up, the food rated a 4. I just loved those dumplings and the decor of cartoonish characters and street scenes of Chinese origins just added to the overall atmosphere. I think our readers would enjoy this restaurant and when in the neighborhood I just might return to see how our freshman server is doing, and to get more dumplings.”
My BBQ Pork was excellent. The rice and fried egg were OK too. But the Dumplings were to die for. I concur with Roy’s assessment … a four Saguaro rating for 81 Hong Kong Cafe. Like Roy, my meal was so large that I brought home half of it for Ms. Karen to sample. In the To-Go box I included the green thing that came with my meal so Ms. Karen could identify it for me. She said she thinks it was a leek. Who knows. All I know is that it was green and I don’t eat green.
We wish these guys all the best. Check out the dumplings.
81 Hong Kong Cafe
625 E Wetmore Rd Ste 109, Tucson, AZ 85705
Mon: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Wed – Sun: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM