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Chicken Dish mention on Beyond Computers

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  • JC Oct 2, 2000 04:20 AM
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On the show Beyond Computers, Jim mention a chicken dish you can order at R&C at SF Chinatown. What is the name of the dish? Do you really have to order it 24 hours in advance? Thanks

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  1. m
    Melanie Wong

    The literal translation for the Cantonese name is Glutinous Rice chicken. The rule is to order it 24-hrs. in advance. However, one time I called in the order at about 11:30am for a dinner at 7:30 pm the same night. The hostess said - gotta order a day ahead. Then, I asked her to check with the kitchen. She did and said that it was okay this time. So I wouldn't count on it.

    It is a large dish. Even with 8 of us including Jim, we couldn't finish it with everything else we had ordered. Same another time when we had 12 diners.

    No need to order steamed rice if you have this dish as it provides your rice quotient. Steamed rice isn't part of a special banquet anyway.

    31 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      b
      Barry Kaufman

      The R&G Lounge is the best restaurant in San Francisco to go for a Chinese Lunar New Year banquet. Make your reservations now --- not joking. They have several price fixed banquets - alway under order - there is just too much food.

      1. re: Barry Kaufman
        m
        Melanie wong

        Barry, yes, the banquet menus are a bargain, especially when you can get one of the small private dining rooms. But for Chinese New Year’s, abundance and indeed overabundance is mandatory. At least 10 courses, and 12 courses is even better. Ordering less is considered ill-mannered and chintzy.

        For Limster’s benefit, I’ll mention that when R&G first started getting good press about 10 years ago from the mainstream reviewers I had a couple week day lunches there and wasn’t impressed. My mom had read the same things and tried it during a visit to the City and was let down too. But then I rec’d an invitation to a Chinese New Year’s R&G dinner from my Aunt Ruby. Couldn’t join her that time but was curious about her experience with the restaurant. She said that the banquet foods are best and that the salt & pepper crab and the sticky rice chicken are musts.

        Since then, I’ve had these two dishes many times and feel that this kitchen really understands frying. At our May dinner, the heads from our live shrimp sashimi appetizer were fried too. This made for a bit too much fried stuff but this is where R&G excels. I’ve also been cultivating a favorite waiter, Edward, who has made many good suggestions and has steered me away from ordering some dishes. This has made a big difference in changing my impression of the restaurant too. It is strange that a place that can turn out such great banquets falls down on beef chow fun.

        1. re: Melanie wong

          "It is strange that a place that can turn out such great banquets falls down on beef chow fun."

          Hmm. Sadly, it sounds like they might pull out the stops and that "soul" all chowhounds are searching for the banquets, but not put the same attention or care into the day-to-day cooking.

          1. re: Caitlin
            m
            Melanie Wong

            It's not so much for "banquets", but for what we call banquet dishes, e.g., sticky rice chicken, XO beef, etc. But at the same time, the steamed pork hash with salted fish, an earthy dish if there was ever one, was excellent.

            Maybe there's a difference between wok stations or a dinner vs. lunch spottiness.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I had the beef and snowpeas in XO sauce there last week. The beef was somewhat spongy but also impossible to bite into. We just could not eat it because of not being able to bite into the largish pieces. Is it supposed to be like this? Otherwise the sauce was so good, such a disapointment

              1. re: Anne

                I'm a firm believer that you should be able to bite into your food! The steak cubes are usually made from rib eye which should be plenty tender, unless overcooked. Other cuts of beef (for stir-fry strips) are usually tenderized with baking soda. That shouldn't be necessary for the steak cubes with XO sauce.

                You can buy Yank Sing's version of XO sauce by the jar in Chinese grocery stores if you want to try this at home.

          2. re: Melanie wong

            "This made for a bit too much fried stuff"

            Fine by me. In fact, encouraged by me, if I recall. When i'm eating Chinese in SF, I always overdo the fried. Because the Chinese places in NY can't fry nearly as well (almost nobody of ANY ethnicity fries well in NYC, it's just not a frying town, alas).

            It's standard NYC chowhound operating practice, for example, to almost uniformly shun fried dim sum as it comes around. In fact, I'd almost thought that doing so was standard Cantonese practice. Then I went to SF.

            The other big diff in SF is that your bakery stuff is soooo much better. Those sesame-studded, bean-stuffed dough balls taste a googleplex better on your coast. Come to think of it, they're fried, too. But your black bean sauce isn't as refined as ours. Undecomposed hard bean slivers. Feh.

            But enough of these Chinese regional rivalries...

            Oh, one thing: Rachel, I agree that you can't eat a lot. But I forced myself. And I'm amazed to see you say you "can't imagine ordering again". I dream of this dish almost every single day. If I were rich, I'd have flown out just for that one dish months ago.

            ciao

            1. re: Jim Leff

              One more thing. After trying the chicken (and other serious banquet dishes), complaining about the beef chow fun at R&G is like complaining about a Boston Pops performance of the Star Wars theme after you've heard the same guys do Mahler with Ozawa.

              1. re: Jim Leff
                m
                Melanie Wong

                If they can't turn out an avg. dish of beef chow fun, it shouldn't be on the menu, don't you think?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I actually addressed this in the intro to my book:

                  "The vast majority of diners want to order what they feel like eating, rather than what the kitchen does best. Restaurateurs understand this, and often load their menus with every possible dish customers might crave--though these items may be far from the kitchens' fortes. So even though Tindo offers chow mein, don't fall for it. It's a tourist choice, and will taste mediocre or worse. You wouldn't request steak in a diner even if it was on the menu; it's likewise useful to acquire ordering savvy for other, less familiar sorts of restaurants.

                  "The trick is to consider menus as puzzles, with the goal being discovery of the Best Stuff...."

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    m
                    Melanie Wong

                    Well said.

                    But R&G is in SF Chinatown. Plenty of our medium to high-priced Cantonese restaurants don't have won ton soup on the menu (even though sweet and sour pork continues to be ubiquitous). Beef chow fun isn't something that tourists expect. Many Cantonese restaurants don't even make it because you have to buy the noodles fresh every day.

                    One of the Cantonese restaurants in Salinas that my parents frequent will only let them order chow fun on Wednesdays because that's the day the rice noodles are delivered fresh. I'm sure it's on the menu the rest of the week for those who have to have it. If a place in a cow town like Salinas can take care of its regulars this way, I'm puzzled that a place like R&G doesn't show more care to either do it right or take it off the menu.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      "Beef chow fun isn't something that tourists expect"

                      Ah. That explains it. Another regional variation. The streets of NYC are awash in beef chow fun. Which I love, btw.

                      In generally, I hate to damn a restaurant for bad dishes. I'd rather find a place that makes one stellar dish and 45 atrocities than a place with 46 pretty good dishes.

                      I do deduct points for off dishes, however, in fancy places, where cross-menu consistency is an explicit criterion. But other types of restaurants don't make that claim, so if I miss the good stuff, I tend to blame myself for unskillful ordering (that's definitely a chowhound trait).

                      God how I miss that chicken with sticky rice. Melanie, what have you DONE to me???

                      ciao

                      1. re: Jim Leff
                        m
                        Melanie Wong

                        Beef chow fun is my favorite lunch. In fact after our "conversation" here last night, I ran to the nearest Chinese restaurant to get a fix.

                        With your caveat that higher-priced restaurants should offer more consistency, I think we're now in agreement?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          "With your caveat that higher-priced restaurants should offer more consistency, I think we're now in agreement?"

                          Ah, Melanie, you forget that as a former philosophy major, I will draw endless distinctions forever, until smacked in the head!

                          First of all, I want to remind those reading along that we're talking about consistency across the menu, rather than consistency from meal-to-meal.

                          But it's not a matter of price, IMO. I don't consider price, in and of itself, to demarcate any real boundary. Peter Lugar's very expensive, but I wouldn't order chicken florentine there...and they earn no demerit if it's bad. Same for the teriyaki at most good sushi places (I'm bluffing on this though, as I've never dared try).

                          It's a case-by-case thing; certain kinds of places do telegraph aspirations toward "everything good", but in general I default to tolerating bad dishes on good menues. Each menu presents a challenge for me, a chowhound, to strategize. It's one of my dining responsibilities. And it's one of the matters about which this site is designed to advise.

                          So bad beef chow fun at R&G doesn't even budge my disapproval meter. Though I'm fascinated to learn that the dish is considered high-class out there!

                          ciao

            2. re: Melanie wong

              Melanie - thanks for your tip on R&G. What else should one order there besides the dishes you just mentioned? And what to avoid?

              I was there about a year ago, and will share my experience so that you guys can better steer me toward the good stuff. :)

              I had their char siew (roasted pork) and it was cooked evenly and thickly cut. It's probably personal taste, but I'm used to very gentle and slight charring on the edges of char siew for that hint of smoky flavor and a crisp texture as well as more delicate meat.

              I also had an oyster claypot that was decent, but far from the hype in the press.

              1. re: Limster
                m
                Melanie Wong

                You're welcome, I'd hate for you to wait as long as I did to discover the "real" R&G.

                Besides the salt and pepper crab and glutinous rice chicken for a crowd, we almost always order the prawns with honeyed walnuts, which is good but not necessarily better than anyone elses, because it is so fabulous with an off-dry Alsatian gewurztraminer. Rib eye with snap peas and XO sauce, steamed custard tofu with shrimp stuffing, whole steamed fish with scallions and ginger (the mah bahn gopher fish for Jim was perfect, swimming striped bass is also very good), clams with black bean sauce, flower mushrooms (yes, the special thick kind) with braised mustard greens, steamed pork hash with salted fish (takes time), fried bread with sweetened condensed milk sauce, and steamed live shrimp with ginger/scallion dipping sauce. A dish I think you'll like is the assorted vegetables stuffed with pork and/or shrimp forcemeat braised in garlicky black bean sauce --- the eggplants are unctuous and well-carmelized, the tofu squares fried, and the peppers aren't bells but yellow wax chiles that are too hot for some but give great flavor. For birthdays, we'll have yee mein with crab, yellow chives and enoki mushrooms.

                The winter melon in the soup for the Big Dogs was undercooked and didn't develop full flavor, but it has been better at other times. A dish to avoid is one that is R&G's most popular with the Financial District lunch crowd, the Chinese-style beef. This is in a thick red sweet and sour sauce and was the fave of many of my colleagues when I worked downtown.

                I don't order char siew at sit-down restaurants because as you say, it's important to get just the right piece for your tastes. Don't have a favorite bbq place for this, just wander around until I see what I want in the window. I like the crispy edges too. Sounds like you would prefer the pork tenderloin, the long skinny pieces with a vertical grain, instead of the thicker and fattier pork shoulder that are in longer pieces.

                I'll post a separate note on clay pots . . .

          3. re: Melanie Wong

            I also split the rice-chicken among at least eight people and we were unable to finish it (a caveat, they brought it out last after at least six other dishes). The problem isn't only size, its richness. Even if they'd brought it out first it would have been hard to finish.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              j
              Jason "Hong Kong Style" Perlow

              Melanie:

              Is the chicken dish you and jim are talking about similar to the sticky rice dish with chinese sausages, pork and shrimp stuffed in lotus leaves that is served as a dim-sum dish?

              Rachel and I usually get that every time we get dim sum -- that or a variation which is essentially glutinous fried rice with little itty bitty shrimps in it.

              The best part, I think, is the glutinous rice that is somewhat browned and forms the crust of the inside of the lotus leaf.

              That... and you dont have to wait 24 hours for it! Dim Sum is the ultimate in instant chinese food gratification, I think.

              1. re: Jason "Hong Kong Style" Perlow
                m
                Melanie Wong

                Well, it's made from chicken and the stuffing has some of the same ingredients.

                The bones and most of the meat is removed while leaving the skin and thin shell of meat intact. The glutinous rice stuffing has dried mushrooms, Chinese bacon, roast pork, dried shrimp, scallions, and small bits of ultra-expensive dried scallop which give it a special smoky taste. The batter is very light, yet chewy and crisp at the same time, maybe made from glutinous rice flour or tapioca starch or a combination of flours. The whole thing is pushed into shape carefully and chilled - they even manage to get the stuffing inside the drumstick - so that it looks like a bloated bird and then deep-fried. To serve, it's cut into squares about 2" thick of dense chewy stuffing with a layer of crispy chicken meat/skin on top and bottom. I think the price at R&G is about $35, whereas regular dishes are about $7-10.

                The old-time butchers in Chinatown used to do the de-boning for you and this dish was something people made at home for special occasions. But those guys have retired and home cooks don't try this anymore.

                I've had the opportunity to accompany my Aunt Ruby on her quest for the perfect version, and her favorite is R&G's. We've also tried Yank Sing's (if you cater-in a dinner banquet) and a seafood place over on Green St. that did a very good job with this dish but missed the mark on everything else. Auntie (who is a California Culinary Academy graduate) used to make this dish. I was with her the last time she did this. Her assistant slipped when helping her lower it into the hot oil and she got a serious burn from the splash. She's retired this from her repertoire. So it's not only time consuming but dangerous to prepare.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  j
                  Jason "Body Cavity" Perlow

                  Melanie:

                  It sounds really tasty but the idea of eating stuffing that was cooked in the cavity kind of grosses me out, since that part of the bird collects a lot of bacteria like salmonella, since it isnt as cooked as the more external meatier parts. During thanksgiving I am more of a dressing rather than stuffing "stuffing" kind of guy.

                  But I suppose immersing the entire bird in bubbling hot oil would essentially kill anything, wouldnt it?

                  1. re: Jason "Body Cavity" Perlow

                    In Melanie's reply to your question, she noted that most of the chicken's meat is removed when it's boned out, leaving only a thin shell. I imagine this would mean that what's remaining, as well as the stuffing, is cooked to an internal temperature that would guarantee bacterial death.

                    Generally, though, I'm with you, and always cook the stuffing outside the bird (but it's still called stuffing in my family).

                    1. re: Caitlin
                      m
                      Melanie Wong

                      It is eye-opening how small a chicken is once you take the bones out. One of my friends makes a Japanese dish from a de-boned chicken that's shaped and tied into a sausage like roll. It's only about 2 inches in width. She's trained her husband and sons how to bone it out if they want her to make it.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        j
                        Jason "DeBoned" Perlow

                        Gee Melanie. Now I have to go to sleep with that ultra creepy image in my head. Now I keep thinking of what happens to all kinds of animals after you take all their bones out and wrap them up into sausages.

                        horses... chihuahuas... fruit bats... camels... penguins... I CAN SEE THEM! AAAAAAAGGGHHHH!

                        Thanks a lot.

                        Jason

                        1. re: Jason "DeBoned" Perlow
                          m
                          Melanie Wong

                          So how big would you be if we took all your bones out? (g)

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            j
                            Jason "Stuffed" Perlow

                            Before or after you stuffed me with rice?

                            If after, I would say about the same size as after a typical sunday morning dim sum session...

                          2. re: Jason "DeBoned" Perlow

                            I'm picturing Gary Larson's 'boneless chicken ranch' cartoon...

                            1. re: Tom Hilton

                              LOL. That was alwaya one of my very favorite Far Side panels.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                      It's actually $50.O0 now. Although it was $40.00 until a few months ago.

                      1. re: Rachel Hope
                        m
                        Melanie Wong

                        Wow, $50, increased no doubt to cover the extra workers comp claims! At least you can share it with 10 of your closest friends.

                        Rachel, you haven't told us yet whether you liked it. Worth the money to you?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I loved it -- but only a little bit of it. It's something I'd crave, but can't imagine ordering again. I'm not sure how well it works as restaurant food. But I'd be ecstatic to be served a piece at a Chinese banquet.

                          1. re: Rachel Hope
                            m
                            Melanie Wong

                            Typical banquet is arranged in 10-person or 12-person tables with one bird per table. So you could probably still have as much as you want.

                            This was the one leftover dish that I'd asked the server to box up after our May dinner with the Big Dogs. I was EXTREMELY upset the next day when I realized I'd left it at the restaurant!

                2. p
                  Paul Spiegel

                  I cant seem to find the R&C in the phone book. Does anyone know where it's located?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Paul Spiegel

                    Paul and JC--

                    It's the R & G Lounge (631B Kearny Street @ Clay Street; 415-982-7877).

                    For more info, see the Monday, June 19 entry in the diary link below

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/dinner/5-and...