Wisdom of the Cantonese Aunties
- Melanie Wong
Recently Jennifer Wilson asked me if I was really a blood relative of the many aunties I've referenced on this site. Yes, indeed, I really do have 12 aunties. My dad has seven surviving sisters and my mom has five surviving sisters. When we're together, there's always plenty to eat and we talk about food constantly. Here's some of what I've gleaned.
Auntie Lizzie in Oakland - Peony has good dim sum and nicer surroundings. But the wait is too long and the service is terrible. I almost always end up at Jade Villa which is good and has a big selection. The best roast duck in Chinatown is from Yet Sun. But the last time I was there, he wouldn't fill my jar, maybe there's a new manager.
Auntie Evelyn in the Sunset District - Yet Wah is my favorite dim sum house. It's not all Northern style, they have a mix of things. The most delicious one is tail of the phoenix [sorry I can't remember the characters] and they make the best sun jook geun. The best roast duck on Clement Street is from Wing Lee, your cousin Patty told me that one. The take-out dim sum from Wing Lee is good too, except for the egg roll and fun gwar. Don't go to Jumbo, it's gone downhill. Sun Hing Lung next door is the place to go now. You can get a half order of yue sang (raw fish salad) at Kirin for $18, this is enough as an appetizer for 6 people. They can get shad all the time now so it's on the regular menu and not just a seasonal special.
Auntie Ann on Nob Hill - House of Prime Rib always does a good job, very consistent, and there's a lot to take home for lunch the next day. For fan chan (foreign food), I like Jianna and Fringale. In Chinatown, I think Little Garden and Great Eastern are the best. We had Madelyn's baby party at Great Eastern. You missed it when you were in France, let's go there with your parents.
Auntie Ruby on Russian Hill - Capital Restaurant on Clay Street is our new find. We were having dinner at another place and could hear the people at the next table gushing about the tong yun (dumpling balls in soup) so I went over and asked them who they were talking about. It's really good for the homestyle Cantonese cooking - tong yun, hom yue yuk (steamed pork hash with salted fish) and the old favorites. Really cheap, cash only. We still think Janmae Guey Market makes the best roast duck. For noodle dishes, I like New Hong Kong Menu. R&G Lounge is the best for banquets, you should see how your little cousin PJ crunches on the salt and pepper crab. The chicken stuffed with sticky rice is the best. What do you mean you never finish the whole thing? Not if you were eating with my kids! If you don't have time to call R&G a day ahead to order the chicken, Little Garden makes a good version. Not as big and they'll usually make it for dinner if you talk to them in the morning.
Melanie "Amy Tan" Wong: I love it! I feel like a fly on the wall listening to your aunties. My favorite (I hope the aunties don't read Chowhound)is Auntie Rubie asking the diners she's eavesdropping on for clarification! But I was very depressed to learn that even Auntie Lizzie can't get a full jar of duck jus from Yet Sun. What chance do I have?!?
Melanie, thank you, and please relay my thanks to your aunts, too. I've printed out your list, and will proceed to eat my way through it.
May you and your aunts long enjoy the best meals, and be able to enjoy them together!
That's one of the best posts I've ever read! Please say thank you to the aunties. And thank you for the report.
Jumbo was our favorite for several years. Last time we went there and brought along a friend who lives near Chinatown we were embarrassed. Hoped it was an aberration. Anyone know what went wrong? New cooks?? new owners?