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San Tung at 10th & Irving July 2006

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I love great potstickers, but must profess a preference for the Japanese style, handmade and fresh. San Tung filled the bill perfectly with their wok-fried pot stickers, and like in Japan, the holy trinity of chili oil, soy sauce and white vinegar were on the table. They are fantastic. But we almost liked better the boiled pork dumplings with chewy wrappers and stock-laden juicy pork inside. Couldn't pass up the dry fried chicken wings -- which really don't deserve the "spicy" designation on the menu since you can leave the fried chili shards on the plate; the surprise here was the faint sweetness on the crispy skin. Finally, as a nod to their house-made noodles, we had vegetarian chow mein. The perfect guage of noodle, with astonishing chewiness but no toughness. San Tung really know their carbs -- the flour element of the pot stickers, boiled dumplings and the noodles was superb in every case. We loved the kimchee (made with western cabbage, oddly enough), which screamed for a little white rice so we ordered a two-person serving.

Bill for four people: $25 before tax and tip. I call that a bargain for a state-of the art Sino-carb experience. The service: not effusive, but not unfriendly either. For this kind of place, just right. I'll return...

On a previous re-con mission alone, I had their black bean sauce noodles and while I liked the noodles, the "black bean gravy" with the noodles was first exhilarating with its aroma, but by the bottom of the bowl this over-thickened gravy wore thin, and made me think that in the kitchen, the water left over from the initial soak of black beans (to remove the salt) is then cornstarched and recycled as "gravy." But I'm only guessing here. Perhaps I should try the dry version for a dollar more since I'd like more black bean flavor, with its lovely blend of salt and fermenty tartness.

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  1. I'm a big fan of korean-chinese, and San Tung may be my favorite chinese place in San Francisco. They do fried dishes (e.g., dry-fried chicken and tan su yuk) very well. I'm also a fan of the kung pao chicken (they use zucchinni) and hot braised beancurd. As you may have surmised, however, they use a lot of cornstarch and MSG.

    1 Reply
    1. re: a_and_w

      Mine too. I especially like the dry-fried fish (halibut?) and that wonderful slightly sweet kim chee. I won't be in the Sunset again until the middle of August, but I am so looking forward to going there for lunch.

    2. know of any other korean-chinese restaurants in SF or the East Bay? I've only been to San Tung and one in Sunnyvale.

      10 Replies
      1. re: kc72

        Check out Great China in Berkeley near the theater on Shattuck.

        1. re: a_and_w

          this place isn't korean chinese.... not that i think san tung is either, but definately not this place.

          i always thought this place to be very northern/bejing style. their two signature dishes the peking duck and the cold noodles (forget the name, mixed at the table with a spicy mustard) are not korean... and i'm pretty sure there's not an abundance of korean dishes. unless there's something in there that i miss or just don't order?

          1. re: spork

            The name San Tung is also a province in China, not far from the Korean Peninsula. My guess it's cooking from that region.

            1. re: Tripeler

              Both Great China and San Tung are owned by Shandong Chinese from Korea. They both have some dishes that are standards in the Korean-Chinese genre, such as the "double skins" spork describes.

        2. re: kc72

          There is one in Walnut Creek call Sun Mei and then there is San Wang in Japantown. Both places are just okay compare to san tung.

          1. re: kc72

            What makes San Tung Korean-Chinese? I could be wrong, but I never thought it was anything but some variation of Northern Chinese. Kim chee does not a Korean restaurant make. It was a part of Cantonese cuisine when I was growing up.

            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              There has been a MAJOR thread about this very question......if the new search cannot find it, perhaps one of the moderators would be able to find the link to this very interesting discussion for you...

              1. re: ChowFun_derek

                I'm as far from a moderator as you can get, but is this the thread?

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

                Sigh, one day I'll stop saving off these topcis about Chinese food and actually eat it. It is such a ... big ... cuisine to learn about.

                Here's a more recent General Board discussion with lots of good links if you follow them.

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

                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  I was in the Sunset Saturday buying an original 1931 Dracula photograph and went to San Tung for lunch. Since I questioned classifying their food as Korean-Chinese above, I made it a point to ask the woman who appeared to be in charge about how she would describe their food.

                  Without skipping a beat, she said Chinese, not Korean Chinese. While it is true that the owners emigrated from Korea 20 odd years ago, she was adamant that their food was Chinese. She said that many Koreans enjoy this style of Chinese food (noodle soups/dumplings). She suggested that people might mistake their food for Korean-Chinese because they serve kimchee, but as I pointed out before kimchee was part of mid-century Cantonese cuisine.

                  And as usual my shredded pork/Chinese pickle noodle soup and dry fried halibut fillets were great.

              2. re: kc72

                on my list to try:
                Ohlone Yen Ching Restaurant & Lounge
                1616 Washington Blvd
                Fremont, CA 94539

                Yelp reviews here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/kkLEQOtHkSho_...

              3. Man, I was so excited about trying this place until I saw the post that mentioned the use of HEAVY MSG. Such a disappointment. Is this true?

                1. 3 of us went to San Tung for lunch on sunday. At 11:30, the place was already crowded. Fortunately, we got the last table before having to wait in line. Yay!

                  We started w/ the dried tofu strips- it was delicious. This is a cold appetizer dish and the tofu had a slight sweet sauce drizzled on top, not overwhelming the tofu at all. I wanted to order another one to go. We also ordered the steam veggie dumplings, the dried chicken wings, garlic chicken, and an order of green beans.

                  The veggie dumplings came 6 large ones per order. The insides consisted mostly of cabbage. It was good, but I thought the skin was a bit thick. I tried the famous chicken wings for the first time- indeed very tasty. Slightly sweet, not too greasy (considering). Green beans were also done well. My friends kept commenting on how crispy they were. I preferred the chicken and garlic. Diced chicken and onions prepared in a brown sauce, thickend w/ corn starch.

                  Overall, I thought the food was good, but I probably wouldn't wait in line just to dine here. I did notice that almost every table had an order of potstickers (that looked absolutely delicious) and chive dumplings. Next time, i'll be sure to try those.

                  1. i was just there last wednesday as well with 4 friends. we shared the San Tung staples: chive dumplings, pot stickers, cold housemade noodles with peanut sauce, the sweet, tangy and sticky dry fried chicken wings, as well as the green beans. all very good for hearty, soulful fare.

                    i'm not the biggest fan of the chive dumplings; they're fine. i tend to prefer xiao long bao to these thicker-skinned versions. the pot stickers are very meaty and the skin is pleasantly chewy and with a tasty browned side. they just seem to take forever getting to your table! as for the chicken wings, i had about 4 wings to myself, nevermind my friends. =)

                    i have noticed on a couple occasions that their noodle dishes tend towards the watery side. it starts out great but as tripeler reported, the bottom of the bowl gets too soup-y. hm.

                    i, myself, would actually wait for a table here, because when you're in the mood for some good chinese dumplings, noodles and chicken wings, this is the place to go for consistent quality. the place is stark and the service average, but san tung is the place you go when you want to just EAT. =)