A new Chinese find for us..........
Dont know if this place has ever been mentioned here before........Dragon River on Geary between 14th and 15th Ave. We were turned on to this place by a friend who's lived in the area for 20+ years. Needless to say, we are skeptical of anybody's family "favorite", but Dragon River passed with flying colors. We stopped by yesterday to pick up a menu - local delivery with $15 order sealed the deal. They specialize in Hakka cuisine and the menu is rather large in offerings.
We started with an order of potstickers - very good but not as good as Ton Kiang or U-Lee's (although U-Lees can sometimes be gamy because of their size). Then we ordered Hunan Chicken (spicy), Oysters with Roast Pork Clay Pot, Mongolian Beef (super spicy), and Peking Spareribs. Everything was super fresh and not greasy with chunks of fresh mushrooms and vegetables. The meats were cooked to perfection - one note though is the Peking spareribs are fried and battered to an almost candylike crunchy/chewiness. Not everybody would like it, but I did. The clay pot was excellent - much like the Oyster Clay Pot at Yuet Lee, but with super fresh oysters and large chunks of excellent Roast Pork and ginger. The Hunan Chicken was excellent as well with a great spicyness. The Mongolian Beef was also great - but watch out for the huge chunks of hot peppers - this dish is already super spicy without adding the fire of chewing one of those. The freshness of the ingredients shines through and the prices are super low - $6.75 per dish. The most expensive dish on the menu is $9.00 (without getting into the Peking duck, abalone, sea cucumber, shark's fin, etc.). Already planning on going back to try some of the salt baked offerings, clay pots, or wine flavored meats with pickled greens. All in all, something I would consider a great "find" - and right near us too!
Many people have enjoyed Dragon River, so I finally checked it out. And I, unfortunately, just found it mediocre. This was 1-2 mos ago, and unfortunately, I forget the details. But I do remember it was average, and the dish I had was overpowered by the smell of canned baby corn. Had this been left out, the dish would have tasted much better.
I was curious about all these low-key Chinese places on Geary and decided to try them all over the next couple of months. I had dinner with a bunch of friends at Dragon River last night and I thought it was good for the price. They had fixed price menus written in Chinese in the front and back of the menu. We didn't go for the fixed price option but I used them as a guide to ordering, since most of the items on those menus looked really good and many of them were Hakka specialities.
What I liked:
Peking spare ribs (I liked the sauce a lot - more complexity than your average sweet and sour sauce - as it should be)
Salt baked chicken - very succulent meat
Claypot stewed beef - it was very tender but wasn't cooked to pieces and there was a fair amount of tendon. Comes with chunks of what I thought was winter melon. Gravy has great flavor.
What I thought was OK:
The fishball soup with spinach and chunks of bean curd (tofu)
Steamed catfish - the flesh was delightfully delicate, but the fish needed more seasoning
Braised stuffed bead curd - I wonder if they brought the wrong dish here - the bean curd wasn't stuffed with anything at all. Just fried and topped with a brown sauce with strips of meat and veggies. Was nice but wasn't what I expected.
Nothing really disappointed, especially at the price. I would recommend this place to for a cheap meal. The above for 7 of us came to $12.50 per person with tip, complementary red bean soup dessert and no alcohol.
P.S. Anyone been to Mayflower?
re: Melanie Wong
Was about to try yesterday (a late lunch), but opted for Ton Kiang instead - always wanted to try their General's Chicken. It was very good, with some nice spice, but not the penultimate. I used to go to Ton Ho market (12 years ago) in Illinois and there was a food court with a restaurant (I forgot the name, but the owner went by Rosie) that had the most incredible General's Chicken. Oh well, I keep looking for a comparable SF version. Any suggestions out there??