I Left My Heart in Ton Kiang....
- Lisa Antinore
Two words for you all: Ton Kiang. Simple, Honest, Easy. 582 Geary Blvd., San Fran.
Paul, my long-suffering-prefers-fat-free-but-indulges-to-please
-me boyfriend wants to
positively wring my neck because its been the only topic Im willing to discuss post-trip besides the daily my-biological-clock-is ticking-when-am-I getting-that-ring breakdowns. Strangely enough I think he might even prefer the latter these days. I really cant shut up about this place.
Ton Kiang. Ton Kiang. Ton Kiang. Whoever recommended it is remembered in my
prayers. I think its safe to say it was the best dining experience I had all year, a true
surprise since I am blessed enough to live in Flushing and have some of the best Eastern
food at my fingertips. Considering I spend copious amounts of time in restaurants its a
massive honor. The freshness, flavors, and mind-boggling array of the dim sum
absolutely amazed me. There were at least forty different varieties being presented that
Fourth of July Sunday and each tray that appeared was better than the next.
Shrimp-stuffed crab claws, scallop dumplings, savory shiu mai, chive and shrimp
dumplings, clams in black bean sauce, plates of shiny, brown-sauce glazed button
mushrooms stuffed with crab meat, foil wrapped chicken, deep-fried sea scallops capped
with shrimp paste and showered in a scallion-scattered brown sauce, trays of sautéed choy
sum, vegetable-stuffed bean curd skins, pea tips and shrimp dumplings, quartered green
peppers and scliced eggplant slabs stuffed with shrimp, greaseless soft shell crabs in a
piquant ginger sauce, pork buns, pot stickers, mushroom dumplings, crisp, translucent
shrimp har gow, mini dishes of sautéed stringbeans with preserved turnips, boneless roast
pork, salt and pepper prawns, black mushrooms with bean curd..... I could wax poetic for
an eternity. The bottom line is this: Skip San Frans touristy Chinatown and take a ten
dollar cab ride to Ton Kiang. Ill never feel the same way about downtown Flushing
again. Ive been so, so spoiled. I left my heart in Ton Kiang.........
Although nothing even came close to rivaling Ton Kiang for top culinary spot on this trip
there were a couple of places tied for second billing. The Swan Oyster Depot (on which
our Pearl Oyster Bar is based) had a rich clam chowder and a sweet-as-candy chilled crab
salad with Louie Sauce. It was fun to sit at the counter with the locals and watch the
countermen clean oysters and filet gorgeous deep-sea dwellers. Rose Pistola in North
Beach had succulent Arctic Char which we opted to have grilled with butter beans and
arugula. On that particular night I had slammed Paul into having dessert first
(HORRORS!!!) at Ghiradelli Square ( nix the world-famous sundaes and opt instead
for a simple single-scoop cone shrouded in dark chocolate and flecked with chopped
almonds. Simple, understated elegance that will make you weep when confronted with a
Carvel Brown Bonnet) since we were in the environs and so we (really HE but I decided
to appease him since he surprisingly gave in on the dessert-dinner switch) didnt feel up to
truly samplng the menu. The chick pea farinata and the stuffed crescenzas that were
delivered to other tables looked marvelous. Although we had a reservation for Chez
Panisse we couldnt make it because we were stuck on a delayed tour of Napa-Sonoma
counties and if truth be told Id like to go back just to sample Alice Waters delicacies.
Dont make me feel any worse about it than I already do :) Aqua was our only upscale
meal and the Chilean Sea bass and St. Johns Dory fish that we sampled were flawlessly
prepared and exquisitely seasoned. The desserts unfortunately left more to be desired. In
particular the chocolate mousse which tasted like something one might find on a Space Shuttle.
Freeze-dried and yuckisssimo. Skip it. In the mornings it was nice to meander about
munching on some sort of sourdough product. The baguettes, fresh from the oven, from
Boudin Bakery were excellent but the ubiquitous chowder served in their round loaves
was pretty bland. Forget it. If truth be told Id say to forget all of Fishermans Wharf. It
reminded me of Atlantic City on a bad day. Totally touristy and commercial. We gave in
though and ate steamed Dungeness crabs from Aliotos away from all of the craziness
standing up at the back of a pier. Something you have to do I guess but getting the meat
out was no easy task. It makes for a sweet memory though.
Thank you to all of the ChowHounds who helped plan my Fourth of July San Fran
Adventure as well as my New Orleans Memorial Day. You gave me many delicious
Sweets to the Sweet,