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Uncle's Cafe

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Cynthia Jul 14, 2004 01:09 PM

Searching for intrepid hounds for foray - into the world of lunchtime rice plates at Uncle's— I've walked by and I'm ready to cross the threshold and challenge the domain. 65 Waverly Place.

  1. r
    Ruth Lafler Jul 15, 2004 03:08 PM

    Capital on Clay St. also has Chinese-style American food. The lunch specials looked pretty good when we were there as part of the Chinatown lunch series (I seem to remember the special the day we were there was corned beef and cabbage) and there were lots of elderly Chinese folks enjoying them.

    1. o
      oaklander Jul 15, 2004 01:46 PM

      The D&A Cafe in Oakland Chinatown that has an extensive list of "American" menu items like spaghetti, steaks, and sandwiches to go along with the usual noodle shop dishes. This place is often crowded with the elderly who are probably satisfying their nostalgic longing for stuff they ate in their childhood. It's not bad, not great, just a bit different. Once for under $4 I got the daily special of tomato vege soup, two thin pork chops, and plain boiled spaghetti. I can't remember if dusty old Ch-Am dishes like egg foo yung or chop suey are served for those who want to relive the bad old days of chowing.

      There is an afternoon "happy hour" where dishes like won ton soup and chow mein are really really cheap. For the late crowd, it stays open until something like 2am.

      Link: http://www.222.to/dandacafe

      2 Replies
      1. re: oaklander
        m
        Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2004 04:29 PM

        Haven't been there, but looking at D&A's menu, it appears to be more on the order of a Hong Kong style coffee house than the Chinese-American standards served at Uncle's. In years past, the kitchen staff at SF's restaurants included many Chinese, much like the role of the Mexican culinary worker today or before that as the cooks on the range. They learned to be good short order cooks and prepare Western recipes as well as anyone. In some ways, the food offered by places like Uncle's is closer to the 50's ideal of diner food than the retro styling of say, Mel's.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: Melanie Wong
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          Gary Soup Jul 20, 2004 02:12 AM

          It sounds more like Cafe Honolulu on Stockton St. in SF. A spaghetti side is a choice with all their daily specials.

          Dunno if they have the obligatory macaroni soup with "ham" for breakfast, though.

      2. j
        Joel Teller Jul 15, 2004 12:41 AM

        The link below has the menu.
        Looks quite Chinese to me.

        Link: http://www.222.to/uncles/

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joel Teller
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          yimster Jul 15, 2004 12:52 AM

          You are right it looks very Chinese. But I still remember it for its American food along with Chow Mein and Chow Fun. Also that Peanut cake.
          Forgot another great cake from Chinatown, Coffee Crunch from Eastern Bakery. Some Chinese cook at Blum's went to Eastern Bakery and now the cheapest and best Coffee Crunch is in Chinatown.
          I forget the name of this old coffee shop where Lucky in now no Washighon for it Boston verison of Boston Cream Pie. Do not know if this verison was the real deal but it was good.

          1. re: Joel Teller
            g
            Gary Soup Jul 15, 2004 02:15 AM

            In my salad days (when I seldom ate salad) I would go to Uncle's frequently for breakfast. Typically it would be ham and eggs, which featured a REAL bone-in slice of ham, eggs your way, hash browns, buttered toast and percolated coffee. Less than four bits, or 20 minutes pay at minimum wage.

            I don't think I ever had Chinese food there.

          2. y
            yimster Jul 14, 2004 08:33 PM

            Well Uncle H, is one of the many places in Chinatown that serves American style food for the Chinese. I remember going to Uncle's for American dishes and their wonderful Peanut cake (if they still make it) was really great.

            They and Sun Wah Que and their Apple Pie, New Lung Ting Custard Pie was where it was when I did not want Chinese. Yes I eat more then Chinese.

            Maybe a Chowdown at Uncle H would be interesting.

            I read the other post and I would have had teh Roast Chicken.

            27 Replies
            1. re: yimster
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              Cynthia Jul 14, 2004 08:53 PM

              Yimster, there must be a great story about the naming of Uncle's Cafe! Please tell.

              1. re: Cynthia
                y
                yimster Jul 14, 2004 09:27 PM

                Sorry, I do not know this story. Maybe CYL can help out. Wish my Dad is along now he would know.

                I do know Sun Wah Que story. The name meant Newcomer. My Dad told me went he first arrive it was this place had the best Chinese food in Chinatown and later it went to American food and pies.

                As a little kid I remember Dad taking me to have waffles and biscuts there and other times for lunch and have there dinner rolls which were out of this world.

                1. re: yimster
                  c
                  CYL Jul 15, 2004 03:34 AM

                  Yimster, you seem to be drafting me to write stuff all the time! I am not sure if I know how it actually got its name, but I’ll try to venture a good guess. Sun Wah Kue was the original old time Chinese coffee/lunch shop serving American food items such as ham, bacon and eggs, waffles and sugar donuts for breakfast, short order lunch/dinner plates such as hamburger steak, oxtail stew, pork chops, fried chicken, juicy, delicious prime rib and baked goodies such as apple pie, orange pie, peanut cake, strawberry and banana shortcake, marble cake, etc. Originally, Chinese food rice plates, clay pots and chow mein were not a part of the menu at Uncle’s as they are on the menu today, but those must be added changes which transpired through the years. Uncle’s opened after Sun Wah Kue as another Chinese American coffee/lunch shop/cafe. For a dollar or two, you get a full course meal including soup du jour or a small salad, your aforementioned main course lunch/dinner, Denver biscuits, drink and dessert (jello, ice cream, or a piece of pie). In the old days in Chinatown, you just about knew everyone in the neighborhood. You were taught to always hold your elders with the highest respect. In Chinese, you greeted male friends and acquaintances of the family and on occasion even strangers who were of similar age or slightly older, as “Ah Sook” (translated in English as “Uncle”) as if they were family. Now, you’ve started as a small coffee shop in the neighborhood. It serves American food. You want to convey a warm family feeling about the place. So, consider it as “Ah Sook’s Place” and translate it literally to called “UNCLE’S!”.

                  1. re: CYL
                    c
                    Cynthia Jul 15, 2004 10:24 AM

                    A little piece of history; a big piece of culture. I'd go to Uncle's just for that. Thank you!

                    1. re: CYL
                      c
                      ChowFun (derek) Jul 15, 2004 10:55 AM

                      OK...now you've got me....Orange Pie?! This sounds really promising!
                      What is it, and where can I get it....any recommendations on any good fried chicken place?
                      Thanks

                      1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                        c
                        CYL Jul 15, 2004 04:00 PM

                        Absolutely yes - orange pie! It was a favorite of mine, I loved it, and had it many times! It was topped with a thin layer of whipped cream. There was a later pineapple pie too, but it was not as good nor unique as the orange. It was at Sun Wah Kue, Uncle's did not have it. The prime rib at SWK was very tasty but I only opted for the fried chicken for a change of pace. Sorry, cannot give you any recs for fried chicken.

                        1. re: CYL
                          c
                          ChowFun (derek) Jul 16, 2004 01:38 PM

                          But the real question is....are there any places that still have Orange Pie???
                          Is Sun Wah Kue still around?
                          Sherlock (on a Mac) had no mention of it.

                          1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                            c
                            CYL Jul 17, 2004 07:28 PM

                            Unfortunately, time has taken its toll and Sun Wah Kue has been replaced by another restaurant which no longer bears any resemblance to SWK. I do not know of any places where a similar orange pie like old is currently available.

                            1. re: CYL
                              c
                              ChowFun (derek) Jul 18, 2004 01:21 AM

                              Cyl,
                              Was the orange pie like an "Orange meringue" pie...or more creamy like an orange version of "key lime pie", (made with sweetened condensed milk) and with whipped cream on top?
                              I've found recipes for both types....!

                              1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                c
                                CYL Jul 18, 2004 10:27 AM

                                It did not have cream cheese consistency as in a key lime. It also was not foamy and airy like a meringue. The filling was juicy and gelatinous with a distinctly fruity orange flavor topped with a thin layer of whipped cream. It had a regular, flaky crust. There are two types of recipes found on an All Recipes search (www.allrecipes.com) out of curiosity for comparison. However, it was neither the Orange pie I by Glenda (not graham cracker crust, not a frozen pie) nor was it the Orange II cream cheese version by Christy Wilson. Someday, time permitting, it would be an interesting project to attempt to recreate this delight at home.

                                1. re: CYL
                                  s
                                  Sarah Jul 18, 2004 01:28 PM

                                  Found Orange Cream Pie (Joni Cloud) in www.recipesource.com. No cream in the filling, and she uses meringue which can be changed to whipped cream to top. Could this be it??

                                  1. re: Sarah
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                                    CYL Jul 18, 2004 03:44 PM

                                    One cannot be totally positive unless one actually makes the recipe and try it, but I believe it is not the same. The Joni Cloud pie has a custardy filling thickened with corn starch rather as compared to a gelatinous filling. The Sun Wah Kue pie was complete without canned or orange segments to top the filling.

                                    1. re: CYL
                                      s
                                      Sarah Jul 18, 2004 05:29 PM

                                      OK, I'm getting a picture of lemon merengue pie except it's orange instead of lemon and whip cream topping instead of merengue.

                                2. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                  c
                                  CYL Jul 18, 2004 10:57 AM

                                  It did not have cream cheese consistency as in a key lime. It was not foamy and airy like a meringue. The filling was juicy, not pasty, and gelatinous with a distinctly fruity orange flavor topped with a thin layer of whipped cream. It had a regular, flaky crust. There are two recipe types found on an All Recipes search (www.allrecipes.com) out of curiosity for comparison. However, it was neither the Orange pie I by Glenda (not graham cracker crust, not a frozen pie) nor was it the Orange II cream cheese version by Christy Wilson. Time permitting; it would be a worthwhile project to attempt to recreate this delight at home.

                                  1. re: CYL
                                    c
                                    ChowFun (derek) Jul 18, 2004 03:31 PM

                                    Then we'll have to do it together...'cause you're the expert!
                                    Did it have an "orange curd" similar to the lemon curd used in Lemon sguares?
                                    The orange and the whipped cream would make it very much like a "Creamsicle"....was that the effect?.....or an Orange Julius???

                                    1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                      c
                                      CYL Jul 18, 2004 05:12 PM

                                      None of the above. Not a curd, not a custard, a lighter gelatin like mix. No dairy products folded into the filling itself. Whip cream was a topping only.

                                      1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                        k
                                        Krys Stanley Jul 19, 2004 12:25 AM

                                        Well, if you folks do recreate this, I hope you'll bring it to the next chow picnic.

                                        Reading through this, in the deep, deep, recesses of my mind, I'm thinking there was some sort of fifties dessert like this ... not in pie form ... but the filling sounds familiar. Do you think it was from scratch or is it possible that uncle used a boxed mix?

                                        1. re: Krys Stanley
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                                          yimster Jul 20, 2004 12:05 PM

                                          I am petty sure it was not a mix. Most Chiinese places in the day made also everything from strach. Labor was cheap and mixes was costly in there minds. So I think the pie was made from a agar agar base with orange favoring. I am checking a few of my remaining freinds from that day to advise me on making this pie. You have be a senior to remember these treats.

                                          I will shopping for the ingredients today to start on this project. I just plan to make the filling first and worry about the whole pie later. Because the crust was not be deal. I was a petty spoiled kid as I remember, I just ate the filling and the cream and left the crust. I never got yell at because Dad did the same thing, so Mom let me off the hook.

                                          I did check the junket site and found it interesting. It was around at that time but I not sure if Uncle used it. But I will post again.

                                        2. re: ChowFun (derek)
                                          y
                                          yimster Jul 19, 2004 12:40 AM

                                          The top was whipped cream and the filling is like a Orange favor Agar Agar (a verison of Chinese jello). But Uncle's and Sun Wah Que had orange and I think lemon. Sun Wah Que had another verison of a Orange pie which the filling was whipped. But than that was thirty years ago.
                                          May have to try to make it myself, if I only knew where to start.

                                          1. re: yimster
                                            m
                                            Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2004 12:52 AM

                                            This is sounding like a chiffon pie, which were popular in the 50s. My mom makes a the ultimate lemon chiffon pie. The filling is a lemony egg custard lightened with beaten egg whites and stabilized with a little gelatin, then topped with whipped cream.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                              m
                                              Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2004 01:00 AM

                                              Don't know if this is the right pie or not, but here's a recipe that's similar to how my mom makes the lemon version (sans food coloring). I'd suggest adding a little of the zest to the filling.

                                              Link: http://www.recipesource.com/desserts/...

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                j
                                                jen maiser Jul 19, 2004 11:53 AM

                                                That was my thought too - there is a recipe for orange chiffon pie in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook that I have as well. It differs from that Recipe Source recipe enough to make it worth looking up if you have the book.

                                                1. re: jen maiser
                                                  m
                                                  Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2004 04:16 PM

                                                  My Fannie Farmer is the 8th edition, printed in 1947. (g) The recipe for lemon chiffon pie on pg. 644 is almost identical to my mom's ingredients and prep, except that it has one teaspoon less gelatine than Mom's. Blending in some of the whipped cream to the pie filling is an interesting variant too. The lemon chiffon recipe has an orange variant in this edition.

                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                    k
                                                    Krys Stanley Jul 19, 2004 08:12 PM

                                                    That 50's dessert I was thinking of was junket. Is it possible that was an ingrediant? I had a lot of hits with junket, recipe, orange and Chinese. The only one that could have been close was Almond junket which used orange juice. However junket always had that gelatenous texture to me.

                                                    1. re: Krys Stanley
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                                                      Melanie Wong Jul 20, 2004 03:33 AM

                                                      My older sister talks about and misses junket. I've never had it. Disappeared from my mom's repetoire before I came along.

                                                2. re: Melanie Wong
                                                  y
                                                  yimster Jul 20, 2004 11:49 AM

                                                  There were a few verison of this pie. One is the verison you and the others are posting about. Sun Wah Que had two verison of these pies. They had lemon, orange and pineapple pies. But the verison that CYL and I are thinking about was not the chiffon verison. It was more like a agar agar as a base without eggs.
                                                  This weekend I plan to give it a try and will let CYL try it and hopefully we can redo it again. It was agree that the crust and whip cream will be easy. But the filling will be a little harder.

                                3. re: CYL
                                  y
                                  yimster Jul 16, 2004 11:32 PM

                                  Sorry, but I am not old enough to remember and know all the story and history of Chinatown. I think you are senior to me in knowledge of these old great places.

                          2. c
                            Cyrus J. Farivar Jul 14, 2004 03:36 PM

                            Me and a friend/workmate are going today. Email me if you would like to meet us.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar
                              c
                              Cynthia Jul 14, 2004 04:38 PM

                              Sorry, can't be there today. Please post.

                              1. re: Cynthia
                                c
                                Cyrus J. Farivar Jul 14, 2004 05:13 PM

                                I went there today with a workmate purely on a whim. At first glance it seemed very chow-worthy, with almostly entirely a Chinese clientele (save us, and some tourists who had just left as we arrived).

                                My workmate got shrimp with vegetables, and to be sure that she didn't get bell peppers, the waitress got us bok choy instead. The bok choy was slightly crunchy and very flavorful -- not too soggy at all. The shrimp were also good, cooked in a light sweet sauce (I think?).

                                I ordered a Wednesday special, roast chicken -- which was a plate of chicken and rice and cabbage leaves. The chicken had some sort of gravy-like sweetish sauce on it (with a hint of ginger?) that was very good.

                                I'd like to go back with someone who knows Uncle's, and/or who speaks/reads Chinese.

                                Oh, and we had an egg drop soup (which was included) for an appetizer -- and a small chunk of spongy bread, almost like a pan dulce. I've never seen this before -- what's up with that?

                                Total: $14 (no drinks, tip included)

                                1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar
                                  m
                                  Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2004 04:23 PM

                                  It's been a couple years since I've been to Uncle's myself. My experience has been that the diner-style "American" dishes are better than the Chinese ones.

                                  Wonder if you had a parker house roll?

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