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Mar 11, 2002 06:21 PM

Good Chinese in San Mateo?

  • w

We've determined that there are some pretty fine Japanese restaurants in San Mateo, but does anyone know of some good Chinese places? I'm looking for something as good as Just Won Ton or Little Beijing or Cheung Hing. Region doesn't matter as I'm no expert. My husband and I have searched in vain for a decent place so far. Last night we went to Taste of Shanghai on El Camino (near 21st) and it really wasn't too good. We have been to Hakka and Tina's, both on Third Avenue; Uncle Chen's near Mollie Stone's grocery; and China House on El Camino. And a couple of other places over the years that are best forgotten. I get the impression that these places cater to undemanding suburban tastes. Those that we have visited don't have too many Asian customers and there are no menus in Chinese on the walls. We used to go to Ritz, but it is long gone.

Is it true that we either have to drive to Millbrae and northward, or south to Mountain View to get some good Chinese food? We live in Half Moon Bay and the two Chinese restaurants here are hopeless. Tam's in Pacifica will do in a pinch, but I'm sure there must be some hidden treasure in San Mateo. Doe anyone have a suggestion?

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  1. Little Sichuan is reputedly the best Szechuan food in the Bay Area. I liked it quite a bit my second visit sticking to the Szechuan dishes that Limster recommended. The other winner in San Mateo is Fatima's for Muslim Chinese specialties - Elise and Wonki's comments are linked below.

    Happy Cafe can be good, but I have not been there for several years.

    I sure miss Ritz, don't you?


    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Is Little Sichuan the one across from Draeger's? And where is Happy Cafe?

      Yes, I miss Ritz very much. I assumed they'd be back when their building was rebuilt but alas...

      1. re: Wendy-san

        Yes, Little Sichuan is across from Draeger's. Happy Cafe is on B between 2 and 3.

        Another resource is for Chinese restaurant menus. You can sort the listings by city.


    2. I'm a very big fan of Gin Mon, in Carlmont (I think it's at Ralston and Alameda de las Pulgas). It's always mobbed. We mostly order Szechwan there, but I'm not sure whether it has a particular regional focus or not. Favorites are the tangerine chicken (or beef), eggplant with spicy garlic sauce, and salt and pepper prawns. Also good hot & sour soup.

      Caveat: I like the 'Californized' Chinese of Alice's and Eliza's, so if you don't like those, you probably won't like this (although Gin Mon does not go quite as far).

      Amy H.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Amy H.

        Thanks, Amy. I went to Gin Mon (it's actually in Belmont) a long time ago and it wasn't bad. Yes, I think you're right -- it's a bit Californized.

      2. We eat at Hot Wok often. (It's in the Marina Shopping Center at Hillsdale and Norfolk) The food is somewhat uneven, but some of it is very good. Their Kung Pao Scallops is excellent (deep fried, lightly battered, real scallops with just a touch of Kung Pao sauce.) I often ask for Kung Pao Three Kinds even though it is no longer on the menu. (beef, shrimp and chicken stir-fried in a very good sauce -- somewhat different than the other kung pao sauces) Their green beans Western Style are a favorite, the potstickers are nice and gingery. The Chow Ma won ton soup is excellent. The Double Side Brown Pan Fried Noodle with Barbeque pork is very good. We doctor up the Chinese Chicken Salad when we take it home.
        ABC Seafood in Foster City also has some good dishes -- and most of their customers look Chinese. The Shrimp with Lobster Sauce is excellent -- we go there specifically for that.

        1. Little Sichuan is pretty good. If you can take strong, garlicky flavors, their cold sliced pork with garlic (and chili) sauce is delicious, as are the cold noodles. The duck with taro, is nice and fragrant, too.

          There's also Sun Tung, on B Street off 2nd Ave. Not everything is good, but the"shao long bao" (my idea of pronunciation) a.k.a. "little juicy steamed dumplings" are excellent.

          If Pacifica is not too far for you, coming from HMB, there's an excellent Cantonese place called "King's China Bistro" on King Street about 2 blocks from Skyline Blvd

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pia

            Sun Tung is a new name for me, thanks. You know I'm on a xiao long bao quest. (g)

            You've mentioned King's China Bistro before - what are your favorite dishes there?


            1. re: Melanie Wong

              King's China Bistro--well, it's been some months since my last visit, but I remember that the vegetables and bean curd dishes were particularly good. The noodles and the crab, too. I should go back and revisit, taking notes next time!

          2. I lament the fact that most of the exciting little eating places are probably south of San Mateo. Here are a few that I think are pretty good:

            (1) China Bee on B street & 2nd has pretty good Beef noodles...very spicy.

            (2) Joy's in Foster City is pretty good. Their specilities are hand sliced noodles in broth. (yum) and this bread that is panfried on both side. It is similar to green onion cake (Chun Yow Bin) but it is called (Jaw Bin). It is loaded with fat but it is so good. My kids like to dip it in sugar...which is not really the way to eat them. Their other foods are decent.

            (3) A lot of people like Mr. Fong's in Foster City...I think it is ok only.

            (5) Chef Ding's on El Camino is pretty good. They serve mainly Beijin type food. Their braised fish tail and this pork belly stew is wonderful. The father is the cook. The daughter, I think her name is Yee?, was discovered by the producers of the Joy Luck Club when she was shopping with her mom. I think she was one of the young daughters in the movie. (sorry, just a little trivia)

            Traveling to Millbrae isn't that far...they have that new place (less than a year) on Broadway called Broadway Bistro. It's a Hong Kong Style bistro. They have everything from Hong Kong Style western food, e.g., lamb chop, fish fillets etc to chinese wonton soups. Their wontons are actually pretty good. I like the bigger dumplings better (Sui Gow). You can order it with or without noodles. Try their malaysian bread ($5?) It is a big portion of fried bread with curry dipping sauce.

            Happy eating. Margret

            2 Replies
            1. re: Margret

              I'm with you on Mr. Fong's. It is very popular though.

              Here's a link to an older post on's on my list of places to try.


              1. re: Margret

                I think Ding's is overlooked, possibly because it so clearly caters to Westerners with at least part of its operation, possibly because it reminds everybody of the suburban Chinese places they grew up with. But the Shanghainese dishes are quite good - - Ding makes that one in a thousand killer brown sauce that makes you realize why everybody else tries to make the stuff - - and the loose-skinned dumplings steamed on pine needles are gorgeous.