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Input on Chinese Food 101 Itinerary

I solicited suggestions from folks in the fall, and I've finally started settling on an itinerary for my one week class (April 2-6). Please chime in with warnings and suggestions. If you think there are better places to go, or places where we're more likely to get someone willing to talk w/ the kids about the food still need a good Hunan candidate. I wouldn't mind making a pit stop for some Salt Baked chicken along the way. Current plan is to move South to North.

Monday:
R & G Lounge
Lam Hoa Thuan

Tuesday:
Macau
Koi Palace

Wednesday:
Spices! 3 (focusing on Taiwanese stuff)
China Village

Thursday:
Lily's House (chosen over others at least in part because of Lily's enthusiasm about talking to the kids)
As yet unknown Hunan offering.

Friday:
Great China
Darda

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    1. I'd be tempted to drop one of the HK/Cantonese places and add in a hot pot place like Zone 88.

      How about a HK cafe-style place that serves drinks and snacks for one lunch -- there are a couple in Oakland Chinatown (Shooting Star, Yummy Guide)? Maybe not traditional cuisine, but reflective of the current food trends in parts of Asia.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I like the hot pot idea to make it interactive for the children. Zone 88 or perhaps one of the "little sheep" clones for northern style that are springing up.

        Might check for posts on Everyday Beijing to learn about noodle and dumpling making. The owners are quite accessible.

      2. I've not been by there recently, but I'm under the impression that R & G is closed for renovations.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380912

        2 Replies
        1. re: jillyju

          But I believe that it will be open again before April 2, when the OP will be starting his tour. According to Tablehopper.com, R & G will be open again on March 28.

          1. re: Nancy Berry

            Though that's cutting things close enough that I should probably come up w/ another plan. I wanted to do R & G for a chance to have both master cooked meats and other bbq stuff.

        2. I generally prefer Great Eastern's BBQ plate to R&G's though I have more other types of favorites at the latter. And, I'd suggest Joy in Foster City for Taiwanese, and you can take the kids for a beach walk afterwards. Lily's House is a great choice.

          1. After more thought and input from everyone, I'm thinking of the following itinerary. There are times where I have not chosen the best exemplar of a regional cuisine, simply because the one I chose made travel easier, was less likely to be a zoo during the lunch hour, etc.

            Monday, starting in the South:
            Great Eastern (SF) for BBQ and seafood
            Lam Hoa Thuan (SF)

            Tuesday, continuing in the South:
            Macau (Richmond)
            Spices! 3 (Oakland) for stinky tofu
            Legendary Palace (Oakland) for dim sum

            Wednesday, starting to move around a bit:
            Henry's Hunan (SF) for smoked ham, shredded beef
            Ton Kiang (SF) for salt baked chicken, pork belly w/ preserved greens
            Asian Restaurant Chifa Peruano (SF)

            Thursday, heading East & West:
            China Village (Albany)
            Lily's House (Lafayette)

            Friday, heading North:
            Darda (Milpitas)
            Lu Lai Garden (Milpitas)--not really northern, but I thought it would be nice to look at the influence of Buddhism on food at the same time we check out Islamic food.
            Great China (Berkeley) for Peking duck and double skin

            So...I would appreciate more input. Especially on the following:
            1. Is there a better Hunan option in SF (or Oakland/Berkeley)?
            2. Any not to be missed dishes at the places listed? Keep in mind that we're focusing on regional cooking, so it would be better not to confuse things by having a Sichuan dish at Ton Kiang, where our focus will be Hakka.
            3. Any dishes that should be missed?
            4. Beyond stinky tofu, what would you recommend as typically Taiwanese at Spices! 3?
            5. Should I try to squeeze in a hot pot interlude? If so, where and on which day?
            6. Most important of all, can anyone help me with this? http://www.chowhound.com/topics/381098 Sorry to make you click on the link, but my original mention of it was removed (for being off topic, I suspect). So please look at my link to the media board.

            Thank you for your help!

            15 Replies
            1. re: lexdevil

              Sounds great! Where do I sign up?

              People have said good things about the hot pot at Spices!3 if you wanted to work it in there.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Not sure if Spices is a cook-your-own hot pot though. . .

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  The hot pot we've had (and enjoyed there) is not a cook-you-own. I was amazed at how tender everything remained, given that, but it's a different experience all together.

                  1. re: bernalgirl

                    They do appear to have cook-your-own as an option now, though. I go often enough and see people ordering both versions. Call to check, though, I never order it myself.

              2. re: lexdevil

                Is there still a Coriya Hot Pot place in the Richmond mall - that was a do it yourself place.

                1. re: anli

                  The problem w/ a DIY all-you-can-eat place is I'll get killed on price. They're priced by the head on the assumption that we'll be eating an enormous amount of food. We will, instead, be trying to squeeze 2-3 small lunch/snacks into each day.

                  1. re: lexdevil

                    Here's a thread with updates on Union City to Milpitas hot pot options, not AYCE. You can try to negotiate ahead of time for just the amount of food you need for the class.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42565

                    1. re: lexdevil

                      Asian American Food Co. a.k.a. King of Chinese Dumplings is now offering "family style" hot pot. It's priced per item (except for the dipping sauce).

                      http://kingofchinesedumpling.com/engl...

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        Has it become an eat-in facility and not just take-out? Haven't been there since the new owners took over.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I was there last weekend and it looked strictly take-out to me. They sell packaged hot-pot ingredients per item for cooking at home. The sliced lamb was gorgeous (the person working there, who seemed like an owner, was showing it off proudly).

                          1. re: david kaplan

                            Thanks! I like the concept of one-stop shopping for hot pot. Start with some dumplings, and you have instant dinner. Though at the posted prices, seems about the same as sitting down at a restaurant that provides the stock too, or are the portions much bigger?

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              The package of lamb I saw was maybe around 20 rolled thin strips of lamb meat. I don't remember the price, and I can't guess the weight. If their dumpling prices are any guide, their food is maybe 25% cheaper than the equivalent in a restaurant, so it's no bargain. But, man, I've never tasted dumplings as good as the pork-chive dumplings from there. I'm savoring my large purchase and haven't yet tried the chicken-cabbage, the pork-shrimp-chive, or the lamb-carrot-onion (he promised there's a touch of cumin in there when I asked) dumplings, or the pork wontons.

                              1. re: david kaplan

                                According to their website, lamb is $5.99 per order. Fish is $4.99, and the other meats are $3.99.

                                http://kingofchinesedumpling.com/engl...

                            2. re: david kaplan

                              You are probably right. The sign in the front window (I think it said "Now serving....") made me wonder if they had a dining room for hot pot hidden away in the back. And their website has a picture of two people sitting at a chimney-style hot pot in a restaurant. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

                    2. re: lexdevil

                      I'm answering your question #4.
                      I've not been to Spices 3, but go to 1 & 2 frequently and I hear the menus are more or less the same. For some recommended Taiwanese dishes (they are VERY typical of TPE street food)
                      - beef noodle soup
                      - pork chop rice
                      Also, for a sampler hot pot that's not per head... try the bandit lamb hot pot.