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Clement Street Chow Update (Richmond District, SF): D&A Cafe

m
Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 12:38 AM

Clement Street has been my chow backyard in recent weeks. Thought I should start churning out the posts before the slew of meals here fade from memory.

Whenever we pass by D&A Cafe, my mother can't help but pause a moment to marvel at the cheap prices posted on the menus and specials. Some things are discounted by time of day or in combo meals. So, when she asked me to cut down on our food spending and rotate in some "ging jai" (cheap) eats, I let her finally satisfy her curiousity here.

Our first visit, we just missed the 3-6pm specials. I think this made her a bit grumpy and after studying two different menus plus all the poster on the wall, Mom ended up ordering a plate of dry-fried beef chow fun, $5.50. It was a huge portion with a decent amount of tenderized beef, pretty good wok char, but way too much undercooked bean sprouts.

I picked from the Hong Kong coffee shop part of the menu, choosing the set dinner that includes soup, spaghetti or rice, entree, and a drink for $6.50. The vegetable beef soup tasted like watered down Campbell's with big chunks of carrots --- pushed that aside. Shown below is what was called baby beef ribs with black pepper with the spaghetti option. I was surprised at the mound of cross-cut beef short ribs in this order. The beef itself was pretty tasty once I scraped off the non-descript, slightly sweet brown gravy. It had decent grilled flavor and an unnatural reddish sodium glow. Starchy and flavorless corn and mushy spaghetti with carrot-dominated sauce filled out the rest of the plate. I did like my drink though, salty yellow plum soda, and would order it again.

I let myself be talked into going here again to get take-out. From 10am to around 1pm, a few rice plate specials are offered for $3.80 including a beverage. We tried the Hainan chicken plate and it was pretty good and certainly a deal at that price. You get a mound of yellowish chicken rice (with the distinct taste and color of Knorr), a mix of white and dark meat representing about a quarter of a bird, ginger scallion oil, roasted peanuts, and delicious sweet pickled daikon and cucumbers. The chicken was a standard issue bird, but it was perfectly cooked, pink at the bone and just the right amount of salting. I paid an upcharge for a fresh watermelon juice with boba, it was fine.

My mother had also ordered gai lan with oyster sauce. It doesn't have a price on the menu and she was shocked to pay $6 for this. The gai lan was poorly trimmed and the bottom inch or two of the stalks were too tough to eat. Also, we had to cook it longer in the microwave to soften it enough to bite into.

If I go back, it will be just for the drinks. This is a sister to the D&A Cafe in Oakland Chinatown.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/33879#152154

Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

  1. d
    Dana Beigel Mar 22, 2005 03:28 PM

    I was so happy to see the slew of emails talking about Clement street.

    I just moved to 8th avenue at clement last week....and have had a great time exploring.

    So far, I tried:

    Good Luck Dim sum: Great just out of the steamer chive dumplings, good turnip cakes.

    Pera: Tried the feta pide for lunch...excellent and big enough for two people to split...maybe with a salad....for lunch.
    came back and had the chicken pide at dinner....not as good.

    Haigs: The hummus was good - the falafel balls sucked -
    much prefer king of falafel on Divisadero (he makes his balls fresh every morning with lots of jalapeno) or Sunrise Deli on Irving. Nothing at Haigs seemed that fresh, but they did have quite a few interesting foods from the middle east, etc....just dont know how long they have been sitting on those shelves.

    Mandalay: Had a very good meal there. Great mango chicken, with very fresh big pieces of mango. And one of the best dishes Ive ever eaten. They called it naked eggplant.
    Big pieces of eggplant sauteed in a yummy sauce. What made it great was the consistency and texture of the eggplant. Almost seemed fried in a batter, crispy outside soft inside....but the owner assured me they were sauteed.

    Sweet Time: Tapioca drink and chocolate gelato

    Thai Time: decent.

    My other favorite place is this seafood shop at 10th and Clement. This has all kinds of live fish, a dozen or more types of beautiful whole fish laid out, wild sardines by the bucket, and a whole section of fillets if whole fish isn't for you.

    I got a pound of dover sole and a pound of catfish fillets for a total of $8. Fresh as could be.

    I haven't yet tried the seafood shop on 7th and clement and I also heard the fish at May Wah Supermarket was very good.
    What about meat?
    Has anyone gotten meat at May Wah?
    Any chance I would find organic meat in the area?

    What else must I try?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dana Beigel
      t
      try this Mar 23, 2005 01:27 AM

      haig's and wing hing info

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

    2. c
      Cary Wun Feb 24, 2005 10:52 AM

      I've never been a fan of Hong Kong "cafe" style food. It never worked for me, but for some reason native Hong Kong people like it quite a bit.

      I've always liked the stalks of gai lan to be crisp (can't find the right translated word) for slighly "tsoie." Were the stalks that hard?

      Hm what time does the place close? I'm always looking for late night eats after work.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Cary Wun
        m
        Melanie Wong Feb 25, 2005 02:11 AM

        I'm not big on the style either, so much seems to be sweetened.

        Yes, gai lan should be "tsoie" or toothsome, not just for textural enjoyment, but because when you cook it softer it loses it sweetness and develops stronger cabbage-y like flavors. These stalks were too hard to cut with a dinner knife at the table.

        D&A is open late. Until 1am at least as there are discounted combos available from 10pm to 1am - noodle dish, porridge, and something else for $12.95. On the next block, China First and Lee Hou are open until after midnight too, and they're both inexpensive as well.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          w
          Will Mar 6, 2005 10:21 PM

          I've passed the place dozens of times and always saw it mobbed, so tonight on the way back from SFO we stopped by this cafe for our first time. We ordered the clay pot seafood, szechuan prawns, and mongolian beef. The portions including rice and consume soup were huge, high quality and delicious. The diners were 99% Chinese (a good sign) and we only had to wait 5 minutes for a table. Total bill without tip, with tax, $17.50! Plenty of food left "to go" for several more meals. Don't use the bathrooms. Kitchen appeared clean. Mainland service. Highly recommend.

          We wonder if they use msg? We didn't have the usual flush from msg though.

          1. re: Will
            m
            Melanie Wong Mar 7, 2005 01:08 AM

            "The diners were 99% Chinese (a good sign)"

            I don't believe in this as a marker of quality. There are tons of really bad Chinese restaurants in SF that have 99% Chinese customers.

            The sauce on my beef ribs had a lot of MSG, but I suspect that came from the packaged sauce mix.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              w
              Will Mar 9, 2005 12:30 PM

              Thanks Melanie. I admit my ignorance of that. I finally had tried the place and got excited when it was much better than expected. MSG-probable could hold up my troops though.

              1. re: Will
                m
                Melanie Wong Mar 9, 2005 12:59 PM

                I'm glad you tried it and liked it. It is amazing that they can provide such big portions for such low prices with all those special discounts. "anli" has posted a couple times on the branch in Oakland Chinatown --- it's supposed to be a tad better in quality and maybe a little lower in price --- worth trying when you're in the neighborhood. I haven't been there yet.

                When you're cruising Clement again, late night too, try China First or Lee Hou (more details below in this thread). They're across the street and east a block from D&A. Prices are as low (especially Lee Hou) and I think the food is better at either. China First does tend to use a little too MSG for my taste. Lee Hou's flaw is too much cornstarch in some of the sauces making them kinda gooey. But both tasty and excellent value.

      2. m
        Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 12:44 AM

        Last week I picked up a small pepperoni pizza and a small antipasto salad to go from Giorgio's. It was ready in the 10 minutes it took me to drive there and park across the street.

        My mother liked this better than the deep dish from Little Star. The slightly chewy crust and less sauce were more to her preference. I had no idea she was a pizza minimalist.

        I agree with Celeste that the crust at Victor's is thinner. I like them about the same, as I prefer the simpler sauce at Giorgio's.

        The small salad was more than enough for two of us. It was mostly iceberg with some romaine mixed in. A ton of peppers. The herby vinaigrette with a red wine vinegar snap is as good as everyone says it is.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/33621#150481

        Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

        27 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong
          m
          Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 02:30 AM

          Mom and I managed to skid into the restaurant at 6:50pm. Just in time to catch the 3-course prix fixe for $15. I'd called ahead and found out that the plat du jour was bouillabaise. Learning from my lunch experience where only the fish soup had been satisfactory, I thought it was a worthwhile calculated risk.

          My mother ordered the prix fixe and picked a mixed green salad over the soup of the day. Impeccable salad greens tossed with a light and very tart vinaigrette were finished with a generous amount of salt, a mince of tomato, and snipped chives. It was a big enough serving for us to share, and I appreciated that our waiter brought out another plate without my having to ask. The portion of bouillabaise looked skimpy in the large bowl, but with a small piece of tai snapper and one of salmon with a handful of mussels and some potatoes, Mom said it was enough if you ate the whole thing. Which she did, mopping up all the flavorful fish stock.

          My own choice was much less satisfactory. Shown below is the cassoulet, $16. I stared at that bowl in the restaurant, plus I've studied this photo at length now, and I still can't see a single bean. This was more like minestrone soup, and a tomato-heavy one at that. The small white beans were few and far between, and the ones I managed to dredge up were overly firm and just a shade less than crunchy. The sausage was without distinction. The piece of confit was acceptable, but neither meat blended into the whole. The dry bread crumbs were just thrown on top and had not baked into a bubbling crust. Equally unsatisfactory was the glass of 2002 Sablet, $6.

          The prix fixe includes a choice of any dessert on the menu. Mom picked the marquise and we were both happy with that. Half dark chocolate and half white chocolate, it was topped with some sliced almonds and sauced with creme anglaise, caramel, and berry puree. The white chocolate part was kinda grainy, but otherwise good.

          Service was fine, but I'm still not impressed by the food. Maybe the prix fixe option from 5-7pm is the way to go. But I don't think I'll be returning.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/30554#131928

          Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            m
            Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 02:56 AM

            Auntie Lizzie and her two daughters took Mom and me to Cafe de Pera for dinner. Both Mimi and I had been there before and we picked it to have more vegetarian options.

            We shared a lahmacun, which was a bit too wet and only okay. The mixed appetizer plate was fine, none too distinctive. The roasted eggplant spread was the best thing on the plate. I was disappointed to find out that ezme is no longer on the menu.

            Mom had the lamb kebab cooked medium-rare that had good grilled flavor and tenderness. I tried the adana kebab which is now made in little patties instead of formed on a long skewer. It was acceptable, but I missed the more assertive spicing of the earlier version. Side salads were better than before, no more canned mushy olives. Best part was the freshly baked pide bread on each plate -- much improved over the previous owner's breads.

            We tried one of each of the phyllo pastries. Best one is the squarish, smaller piece in the photo below. The layers of phyllo are set on end. This allows the honeyed syrup to drain off and the pastry stays much crisper.

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/26716#109085

            Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              m
              Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 03:15 AM

              Not wanting to brave the lines to try to have dinner here, Mom and I had lunch here last week. We started with samusas. These had thin, crackly wrappers. Mom's first reaction was "oh, it's sweet", and there is a sugary accent on the mildly spiced meat and potato filling.

              The tea salad was much better than my last visit, which was soon after the change in ownership. Less lettuce filler, more fermented tea leaf, better dressing, and more ingredients added to the complexity. I later overheard my mother describing this to someone, "many kinds of crunchy things with different flavors and I didn't know what they were".

              The on noh kaukswer (coconut chicken noodle soup) was on the pasty side and the coconut milk's sweetness dominated the flavor. Mom also thought the portion of noodles was too skimpy.

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/23439#89078

              Image: http://burmasuperstar.com/images_inde...

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                m
                Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 11:05 PM

                We’ve been back to Ocean Restaurant for dinner and a late dim sum lunch. William and I arrived at 2:50pm and the proprietor let us order from the reduced price, mostly dim sum “happy hour” menu offered from 3pm to 5pm. Merrily we ticked off a bunch of stuff on the happy hour menu intending to bring the rest back to share with our parents.

                We tried –

                $1.00 each (reduced from $1.65) – green tea pudding, coconut jello

                $1.30 each (reduced from $1.65) – turnip cake, sesame puff, steamed spareribs

                $1.60 each (reduced from $2.10) – har gau, siu mai, chicken feet, chew chow fun gor, steamed chive with scallop dumpling

                $2.10 each (reduced from $2.75) – sui gow in supreme broth, steamed beef tendon (actually shank meat) with mushroom, fried bean curd sheet with shrimp

                Everything was acceptable, often good and a couple items were outstanding. At this time of day, the steamed dumplings were probably reheated from earlier and suffered in texture, especially the har gau. Very good items were the sesame puff with crunchy thin shell and lotus seed paste filling, intense coconut jello, delicious chicken feet with black bean and nam yee seasoning, and the delicious sui gow dumplings in a clear refreshing stock. The spicy and peanut-y Teochew style fun gor with an extra chewy wrapper were as good as any around. The steamed beef tendon turned out to be a single size serving of outstanding double boiled soup with sweet longan and herbs for a clean and refreshing taste.

                We felt we got more than our money’s worth. William did note that the order of chicken feet seemed smaller than usual to him, accounting for some of the price difference. I’m looking forward to returning to try the other two double-boiled soup offerings on the menu: ginseng and turtle.

                At dinnertime, my mother and I had a bit less success. We started off strong with the fresh mustard greens, pork strips, and salted duck egg soup. As with our visit last fall, the soup stock is absolutely impeccable. My mom had requested extra greens and these tender jade-colored hearts were perfection. Succulent pork and firm pieces of salty yolk with threads of beaten egg white completed the well-balanced composition of this bowl.

                The steamed pork hash with salted fish was not so good. The pork was minced too fine and was also too lean making the texture overly firm and just off. The salted fish was too fresh and hadn’t developed the prized mature flavors.

                The oyster and spinach egg pancake was highly recommended by our waitress as one of her favorite things on the menu. Lots of fresh spinach and chopped oysters though, but this was overcooked and dry, as well as undersalted.

                Despite our one out of three hit rate at dinner, I would still return as the kitchen clearly has talent. The challenge is sussing out the strongest dishes, and I hope to hear from others who have specific recommendations.

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/31701#139560

                Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  m
                  Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 01:22 AM

                  I’d noticed Happy Garden before when passing along Clement but hadn’t paid any attention to it until mentioned in thread linked below. Mom and I tried it a few days ago in our continuing quest for cheap eats. Walking in, my mother had admonished me that we would only order two things to cut down on leftovers. However, when she saw a “wo choy” set menu of five dishes plus dessert for $18.80, she changed her mind to pick this in order to have more variety.

                  We had:

                  Soup of the day – beef and lotus root this time, moderate intensity, not that much lotus root, soft textured neck meat still had some flavor, lots of bones

                  Salt and pepper pork chop – greasier, browner and thicker than normal coating but we liked the richly oily crunch, really tasty with bits of fried garlic, red hot chilis and green onions, good spicy heat component, tender meat cut into fairly manageable pieces [note: the leftovers heated in the toaster oven tonight crisped up nicely and soaked up even more of the seasonings]

                  Prawns with walnuts – not the best grade prawns as a starting point but good size and cooked perfectly with a light sear on the firm exterior and juicy soft flesh, heavy sugary glaze on the walnuts for a hard crackly crunch, moderate amount of mayonnaise, nice job and a good portion with nine prawns

                  Salt baked chicken – half a small good quality bird served with fresh ginger sauce, firm skin with the right bite of saltiness, reheated poorly but still had lovely silky flesh, potential to be special if freshly prepared and not microwaved

                  Mustard greens with roasted garlic cloves – menu said bok choy sum but we were pleased to get this substitution, on the bigger size and not trimmed that well, yet deeply savory infused with garlic flavor and finished with chicken stock

                  Red bean and tapioca dessert soup – basic stuff, addition of tapioca pearl lightened it somewhat

                  With zero presentation, the cooking technique at Happy Garden is rustic but packs in a lot of flavor and gets the most out of basic ingredients. None of these dishes are the best of type but they were all prepared competently and deliver great value at this price. We could have fed at least one and maybe two more people.

                  Service was pretty inattentive, even by cheap Chinese restaurant standards. We had to ask for a pot of tea and were ignored by the staff while they went through setting up for the next day and closing procedure. But no one was rude, and again, the price was rock bottom.

                  In my first pass at the menu I was surprised to find several Hakka dishes. This place was flying below my Hakka radar. Now that it has popped up, I’m wondering what dishes other folks have liked at this neighborhood place.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/34457#155618

                  Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    m
                    Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 01:26 AM

                    Breakfast bite Saturday morning was an apricot croissant from Schubert's. One and a half bites, actually, as that was all that I wanted. Leaden and not very buttery, I couldn't bear to eat it after enjoying so many of the City's top croissants in recent weeks. The first thing from here that I haven't liked.

                    Link: http://chowhound.safeshopper.com/23/c...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      m
                      Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 01:31 AM

                      My sister brought me pork and peidan (preserved egg) jook from Wing Lee for lunch. Even though it sat for nearly an hour before I could take a break to eat it, the jook stayed very hot in the styro container. I liked this as much as the chicken and mushroom version here. Some pearly grains among the mostly broken starch, it's not too watery and not too thick, and like baby bear's porridge, just right in texture for me. Actually has too much peidan in it for me, as I would prefer to have more of the smooth textured slices of pork. Yau tieu to dip in it was good too.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        m
                        Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 03:25 PM

                        Mom was in the mood for a burger and I’d not been to this SF classic before, so we headed to Bill’s Place. Accustomed to “restaurant” half-pounders, she had said we would split one, but decided she wanted her own after seeing that the fresh-ground patties are 1/3 lb. and cooked medium-rare here. My mother was tickled that a hamburger joint had crystal chandeliers and pointed out the one hanging right above my head with some glee. She surveyed the counter and whole scene, pronouncing it “very American”.

                        I suggested that we share a milkshake and directed her to the list of Dreyer’s ice cream flavors on the menu. She became even more animated, “Coffee! That’s what I want, do they really have Kona coffee shakes?” Sadly, our waitress returned to tell us that they were out of coffee ice cream. Mom couldn’t have been more disappointed. The waitress suggested chocolate or a black & white instead, explaining that a black & white is made with French vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup for a lighter taste. “Oh no”, I said, “We want a REAL chocolate shake made with chocolate ice cream, that’s hard to find.” The shake was nice and thick, and one canister was plenty for the two of us.

                        Mom had the regular burger with grilled onions and a side of cole slaw. She was a happy camper once more, gobbling up the whole thing and the remaining bit of crunchy iceberg that didn’t make it into the bun. She really liked the grilled red onions. The non-goopy cole slaw benefited from a little salt and pepper.

                        I had the “Paul Kantner” shown below with grilled onions, American cheese, and 1000 island dressing. Bill’s sure knows how to lay on the dressing, and I scraped as much mayo off the other half of the toasted bun as I could to compensate. The patty was indeed medium-rare and juicy, but didn’t have much grilled taste. Though the tomato slice was anemic, the pickles were good and the lettuce was nice and crisp, a half leaf of iceberg slashed through a few times to help it lay flat on the burger. Skin-on fries were limp-ish yet had creamy insides and good potato flavor. I liked dipping them in the puddle of 1000 island dressing on my plate.

                        We brought a patty melt back to the hospital for my brother’s dinner. This was his first taste of Bill’s since his buddies took him there when he graduated from Cal. He was happy that it was cooked rare as ordered. The rye bread had an above average amount of seeds and the crust was still crispy though the other parts had softened during transport. He liked the grilled onions too and judged this a good patty melt.

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/33225#148051

                        Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          m
                          Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 03:28 PM

                          On Friday, Mom and I had lunch at Tong Palace arriving a little after 11am. This was my first time back since the Dim Sum Civil War elimination rounds (link below). My mother thought it looked new and it was much the same to me with nice marble topped tables, good service, and mixed results on the food.

                          The fried taro dumplings (wu gok) looked good but turned out to be cold and horrid. Fried in rancid oil, the bottoms were grease-soaked and the pork filling tasted off. Last time I’d liked the shrimp-filled rice noodle crepe, so I tried the beef version this time. Besides being room temperature and having to send it back to the kitchen to microwave, the filling was skimpy and the sauce was mostly salty and lacking refinement.

                          In the plus column, we thought the har gau were very nice made with whole shrimp. My dad, who is extremely finicky about his har gau, ate the pair we brought back to his room. The braised bean curd rolls were wrapped too loosely, yet were delicious and meaty, almost as good as my favorite versions at Yet Wah and Gold Mountain. Served warm, the bite-size egg custard tarts also pleased. Layers of flaky pastry, but in this small size not that much custard.

                          A small clay pot and a bowl of sauce arrived at the table next to us as we were wrapping up. A small amount of rice was topped with what seemed like nearly a like quantity of baby bok choy, chicken filets, and lop cheung. Clay pots are a specialty here, and those patrons were commenting that this was a really good one. We wished we’d ordered one.

                          With tax and tip, this lunch was $20 for the two of us. Two of the five dishes were not acceptable. If I return, I think I’d get a clay pot, some steamed items, and desserts.

                          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/21055#74835

                          Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            m
                            Melanie Wong Mar 1, 2005 09:36 PM

                            Now, last but far from least, let’s talk about Lee Hou. Since trying it out for the first time on “original joe’s” rec last fall (http://www.chowhound.com/california/boards/sanfrancisco27/messages/101758.html), we’ve been back again and again for the inexpensive, tasty, and wide-ranging menu. CYL gives a good run-down of the menu options in the thread linked below.

                            During our encampment in the Richmond District these six weeks, this has become our favorite spot for nourishing our family with homestyle cooking. My mother has eaten here at least five times and we’ve picked up take-out many more times.

                            Yee fu won ton has been a must for every order – the stock is very good and the plump won ton dumplings pinched in purse-style are freshly fried and will stay partially crunchy in the broth. They’re generously filled with juicy ground pork. Lee Hou makes two kinds: Hung tao yee fu won ton ($5) made with beaten egg whites, copious amounts of cilantro leaves and small cubes of char siu and Virginia ham; and Op gung yee fu won ton ($6) made with roast duck and rich duck broth. I favor the deeper flavors of the duck version, but my mother seems to be addicted to the fragrant and lighter hung tao. When our relatives took her to lunch here, I think she liked being about to recommend the hung tao yee fu won ton with authority.

                            The tabletop cards offer up clay pot rice dishes (Chinese characters only). The remains of a beef clay pot rice from Mom’s lunch with Auntie Lil was my first trial, and the charry fragrance of a well-seasoned scorched clay pot infused in the cold leftovers told me that this would be something really good. On my next visit to the restaurant, we tried the “lop mei” version, shown below on the left, which has various preserved meats (lop op, plain lop cheung, duck liver lop cheung, lop yuk) with some bok choi cooked on top of rice. The cured fat of the meats renders to flavor the rice. The singed crust on the bottom was great and what makes the clay pot rice here better than most others.

                            From the regular clay pot menu, we’ve tried the lamb and dried bean curd skins, which comes with a nam yee dipping sauce (shown on the left). My brother liked the gamey flavor better than I did, it was more goat-like to me. I’ll mention that this comes with the rind and lots of bones.

                            More dim sum to recommend, we liked the hom sui gok that were nice and crunchy with a fresh, meaty filling though my cousin said the shells have been thinner at other times. The steamed scallop dumpling was cooked to order and fresh as can be with a big chunk of scallop and not drowned out by cheaper shrimp forcemeat like Ton Kiang’s. The bok tong go had great fluffy texture and well-balanced sweetness but not the complex yeastiness of my favorite from Louie’s on Stockton Street.

                            From the menu of $3.75 dishes, our favorites include Salt and pepper chicken wings made with jumbo size fresh (not frozen) wings seasoned with plenty of salt, sneeze-inducing black pepper and fresh jalapeños, juicy firmish meat and crispy skin. Salted egg, pork and mustard green soup uses good stock, glowingly fresh mustard green hearts, and tender slippery-textured pork strips.

                            Some of the most unique offerings are on the Seasonal Soups menu. Most of these are individual servings of double-boiled (actually steamed) soups that capture the pure essence of the ingredients so beautifully. We’ve tried several of the tonics made with Chinese herbs, heeding CharlieT’s advice for preventative medicine. The beef with Chinese herbs ($1.50) has a sweet vanilla aroma, minerally flavor and a caramel finish though it doesn’t taste sweet or sugary. The slices of beef still have integrity and are cooked to tender softness. The pale chicken with American ginseng ($1.50) has a bitter edge but has been the most refreshing one I’ve tried. The version with squab and ginseng ($2.50) has a darker color and richer flavor but I think I like the clearer taste of chicken in combination with the bite of ginseng more. These cleansing restorative tonics have the immediate effect of feeling refreshed and revived. A dessert soup, papaya with white snow ears ($1.50), has thick, mostly whole pieces of white fungus with slivers of papaya in a hot sweet syrup topped with halves of bitter Chinese almonds.

                            Two things that we wouldn’t order again were the dry-fried Sichuan-style Chinese long beans – too wet and not complex enough in seasoning (shown on the right) – and jook with preserved duck and peidan ($3) – plenty of add-ins to plain white jook but not flavorful enough. Neither was terrible and could be considered fine for the price, but they’re just not as good as the other things we’ve tried.

                            The offerings from the various menus, plus the items posted on the wall including the $6 crabs, seem almost innumerable. Hopefully as other ‘hounds try new things they’ll report back on their findings.

                            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/34438#155482

                            Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                          2. re: Melanie Wong
                            k
                            Krys Feb 27, 2005 04:07 PM

                            >>> ... a hamburger joint had crystal chandeliers and pointed out the one hanging right above my head with some glee. She surveyed the counter and whole scene, pronouncing it “very American”. <<<

                            I don't have one food related comment to add to this, but those sentences made me giggle and smile.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        s
                        susancinsf Feb 27, 2005 10:40 AM

                        Hi Melanie:

                        the sauce in the picture of the chicken intrigued me: what is in it besides ginger? (assuming that is indeed the ginger sauce your post refers to). It looks for all the world like tomatillo sauce....

                        1. re: susancinsf
                          m
                          Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 03:33 PM

                          Your monitor must be tuned to more green tones than mine if it looks tomatillo sauce to you. (g)

                          It's raw ginger, oil, and salt. Hakka-style salt baked chicken is often accompanied by a green chili sauce that does indeed look like tomatillo and a fresh red one too. But our servers were too engrossed in refilling soy sauce bottles for me to get anyone's attention to ask for chili condiments.

                          1. re: susancinsf
                            r
                            Ruth Lafler Feb 27, 2005 10:13 PM

                            I've been known to refer to it as "Chinese chimichurri."

                    2. re: Melanie Wong
                      j
                      Jeni Bean (Formerly Richie Richmond) Feb 24, 2005 11:59 PM

                      The name is escaping me right now, but their ground meat kabob is amazing. I love that place...it is so cute and relaxed. The one time we went they took a long time to get the food, but I am sure that has been remedied by now.

                      1. re: Jeni Bean (Formerly Richie Richmond)
                        m
                        Melanie Wong Feb 25, 2005 01:49 AM

                        That would be the adana kebab. It's made of ground beef and lamb, I think, or perhaps all lamb.

                    3. re: Melanie Wong
                      c
                      Carb Lover Feb 24, 2005 01:07 PM

                      Thanks for recounting all of your eating adventures of late, Melanie. Given my ongoing love affair w/ cassoulet this winter, must say that that is the oddest-looking version that I could ever imagine! From the pic, looks like they dumped tomato sauce over limp sausage, threw in duck leg, pressed some bread crumbs on top, and stuck it under the salamander to brown and warm through. There are equally simple but much better ways to make shortcut cassoulet.

                      Beauty of the dish is that everyone makes it a little differently, but BC is clearly abusing that principle. Off w/ their heads, I say!

                      1. re: Carb Lover
                        m
                        Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 11:32 PM

                        This little thread is only 5% of our eating this past month. Now you see why my head is exploding. (g)

                        It's such a shame. Bistro Clement exudes Gallic charm in its decor and wait staff. Too bad they don't have more pride in the food. Seriously, I think I'm going to make duck minestrone with the leftovers. A little cup up chard, some macaroni, a touch of garlic and herbs, maybe even more beans, and I'm set.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          c
                          Carb Lover Feb 25, 2005 11:53 AM

                          When I said "off w/ their heads", I didn't mean yours :)

                          This means you must recount the other 95% to your fellow hounds if you are to defuse the pressure build-up. Hope you can bring some life into the leftover duck...

                          1. re: Carb Lover
                            m
                            Melanie Wong Feb 27, 2005 01:42 AM

                            Gosh, I didn't even make a connection between your reference and my overcrammed head!

                            Once someone had joked that a chowhound secretary should follow me around to transcribe my thoughts on what I was putting in my mouth to increase my posting efficiency. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea. (g)

                    4. re: Melanie Wong
                      s
                      srr Feb 24, 2005 10:43 AM

                      I had a great thin crust from Gaspare's last week. I can't wait to go back. Their antipasto salad,though, doesn't even come close to Giorgio's.

                      1. re: srr
                        m
                        Melanie Wong Feb 24, 2005 11:35 PM

                        Yep, Giorgio's vs. Gaspare's, there seem to be fervent partisans on each side. I've not tried Gaspare's yet, as I've heard the thinner crust doesn't hold up well for take-out.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          s
                          srr Feb 25, 2005 01:14 AM

                          I like the atmosphere at Giorgio's better. But,we got take-out from Gaspare's and put it in a hot(500 degree) oven for a few minutes when we got home and it was crisp and delicious. Giorgio's isn't quite as crisp or thin.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        j
                        Joan Kureczka Feb 24, 2005 12:22 PM

                        We've always liked Giorgio's calzones even better than the pizzas.

                        1. re: Joan Kureczka
                          m
                          Melanie Wong Feb 25, 2005 01:57 AM

                          That's good to know. Wonder if the calzones are part of the Monday night thing . . . that might get me in the door.

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

                        2. re: Melanie Wong
                          k
                          Krys Feb 24, 2005 01:26 PM

                          Melanie,

                          I know this is on the board somewhere, but I'm not sure the most effective way to search.

                          Have you tried Gaspare's and compared it to Giorgio's?

                          I keep meaning to try Giorgio's. From what I understand they are comparable.

                          These posts are great. Lots of places I've driven by a million times and wondered about.

                          1. re: Krys
                            m
                            Melanie Wong Feb 25, 2005 02:05 AM

                            The other two spots that folks seem to recommend are Greco Romana (http://www.grecoromana.com) and Panhandle. Panhandle's only two blocks from the hospital and should be the fastest delivery, yet my own informal survey of pizza boxes in the staff lounges and patient areas seems to show Cybelle's as the leader. (g

                            )

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

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