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Favorite Chinatown spots?

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I live right near Chinatown, which I was excited about when I first moved, but now, after a year, it still hasn't offered me what I want . My favorite spots in NYC Chinatown were Wonton Garden and Big Wong on Mott street because they had a huge variety of cheap food, Great Congee, delicious fish and tofu dishes over rice for $4, amazing noodle soups. I feel like I haven't quite found that here yet. the two places that I've gone on repeat visits to are Dim Sum Nice Food (great steam buns) and Hing Lung, which isn't even that great, it just has a big menu. I'm underwhelmed!

What are your favorite authentic spots in Chinatown? Best dim sum? Best noodle soups? Best tofu? Best fish? I'm also looking for a great bakery where they have fresh egg custard tarts.

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  1. I very seldom go to Chinatown because it's just too crowded. I prefer the New Chinatowns in the Richmond and Sunset districts.

    When I do find myself on Grant street, I try to go to Sam Wo for the gim fun and Eastern Bakery for the French doughnuts and char sieu bow. I've read about many other good places on ch, but I just don't go to Ctown much.

    1. If you haven't tried Golden Gate bakery for you egg custard tarts, you haven't been looking very hard. The perpetual line out the door should be a clue that something special is going on there (although their custard tarts are famous, their coconut tarts and macaroons are also wonderful). They should be back from their annual vacation by now, so head on over.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Maybe the OP has already figured out that the dan taat aren't worth the wait and the price.

        1. re: Gary Soup

          Ok Gary, you can't deride the revered GGB dan tat without telling us where better/cheaper can be had.

          1. re: dordogne

            Lots of places have them cheaper. But I prefer to pay more for better quality. If you know a place that's better at any price, I'd like to know about it.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              i haven't actually gone to look for dan tat in Ctown yet, but i figured since i was posting about chinatown i'd get some recommendations. i'll be sure to check out gg bakery.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Actually I think all of the Chinatown specimens are hopeless once you get used to the well baked (even half-caramelized) version you get at the KFC's (yes, KFC) in China and Hong Kong.

                http://blogasian.com/boringest/wp-con...

                1. re: Gary Soup

                  I thought the caramelized ones were actually a different thing (with "Portuguese" in the name?). At any rate, saying they aren't as good as the ones in China isn't very helpful in deciding where to buy them in San Francisco.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Yes, those are a different style. I've had the Portuguese tart from Sheng Kee when it was still operating in Richmond next to Ranch 99. Nearly identical to what I've had in Portugal. Here's a link with more on the branch on Irving -
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I don't think it's very helpful to advise someone to wait in line for half an hour to pay 90 cents for a 60 cent pastry, either.

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        Well it is certainly quicker and cheaper than going to China!

                        1. re: Gary Soup

                          I've never had to wait half an hour. But then, I usually scope out the line, and if it's too long I go off and do something else and come back. And of course, I don't go there during peak times. But if you live nearby (as the OP said), then you can pop in at off hours.

                          You still haven't answered my question: who in San Francisco makes a better daan tat, or at least, one that's just as good for 60 cents?

            2. I am a fan of Capital. Especially their salt and pepper chicken wings. Also regularly get their steamed pork patty with salted duck egg and tofu with preserved vegetables. Basically any old school Catonese home cooking dishes are good there.

              1. No need to suffer. SF Chinatown has much better food than NY Chinatown. Here's a link to a long thread from a few months ago that should help you out.
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                P.S. Hing Lung (the restaurant on Broadway) is amazingly not good at anything other than jook or soup. Hing Lung (barbecue stand on Stockton) is my favorite for white poached chicken.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Don't forget Hing Lung on B'way for you tiao and dan gao.....

                2. I always eat at Lucky Creation on Washington. All veggie, but delicious and cheap. Lots of good mock meat and good tofu.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: evangross

                    excellent, thanks evan! i didn't mention that I'm vegetarian also. i'll be sure to check out lucky creation.

                    1. re: mchan02

                      sweet! I'd be curious to know how you like it there. Everyone I've taken really likes it, except for my fiance (unfortunately), which means I often eat there solo. Lunch is hectic, but if you go after 1:30 it should be easy to get a table. And if you walk down the hill on Washington about a block and a half, on the lefthand side just on the westside of the park is a huge restaurant (I forget the name) that has lots of custards and what not that are really good.

                  2. While San Francisco Chinatown food is better than New York Chinatown, I can also see where you're coming from. There are twice as many Chinese restaurants in New York's Chinatown than San Francisco, and San Francisco Chinatown is largely Cantonese, where New York Chinatown has a nice mixture of Cantonese, Shanghai and Fujian style food. As a result, your choices in San Francisco Chinatown are narrower. Furthermore, New York Chinatown is by far the poorest Chinese community in the U.S. with its large population of Fujianese immigrants, many of whom are in transit, making affordability of product a primary objective of many of the New York Chinatown restaurants. (I mean where else are you going to find a dozen places selling 5 dumplings for a dollar?) Consequently, in this context you might not be able to replicate what you were used to in New York. Nevertheless, with the recommendations in this thread you should be able to add to your local repertoire.

                    1. I love Lichee Garden for dim sum. It's on Powell at Broadway.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AmySherman

                        Second that. It closed down for a while for remodeling but it's now re-opened.

                      2. Dick Lee Pastries on Jackson btw Grant and Stockton...sentimental favorite. If I'm in the area I just stop by. Haven't been to Chinatown to eat or hang out in years. As mentioned you can get everything elsewhere. Been meaning to hit some of the dives like Pork Chop house, Pacific Court, Hing Lung (the chow fun w/o gravy use to be pretty good).

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ML8000

                          Not hip to Pork Chop House, tell us more?

                          Edited to add: whoops, figured out that you probably mean New Lung Ting.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            My Beatnik buddies and I used to go there in the early '60s and always refered to it as "Economic Meal" because of the large sign they had in the front window. They belong in the Pork Chop Hall of Fame. They also had a great egg scramble with chinese sausage and onions that I was partial to.

                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              My favorites in the past have been Yees on Grant and Pacific and Utopia on Waverly and Jackson. Both were good at homestyle Chinese at good prices. For BBQ, the place on Bway and Powell was always the best.

                              The malaysian place on Jackson is also good for variety.

                              The two Pho places near the park Golden King and ... are also good for variety and price.

                              1. re: Jeff S

                                Golden King and Golden Star? They're owned by the same family. I prefer Golden Flower on Jackson for pho (but avoid the imperial rolls). Malaysian on Jackson? Maybe you mean Penang Graden on Washington.

                                1. re: Gary Soup

                                  You are correct on all counts. Thanks

                                  Jeff

                            2. re: Melanie Wong

                              Yeah, that's the name for people who can't remember New Lung Ting. I've never known it as anything besides Pork Chop House.