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Good and cheap Chinese (or possibly other asian) food in the Richmond or Sunset?

I'm going w/ some friends out to the Richmond (or maybe Sunset) tomorrow evening for dinner by car. We want some place that is relatively cheap, has some good non meat options (seafood okay). I'm thinking of maybe going to Spices I or Spices II since I've never tried either, though I wanted to see if anyone has some other recs. Here are some restaurants I've eaten at that I really liked....if anyone could add some more places to this list, and even specific things I should get at them, that would be great. I'm probably not looking for Vietnamese food unless it is something spectacular that I couldn't get in the Tenderloin or elsewhere in the city.

Sorry if this is a strange question, but I'm still relatively new to the city and I have a feeling there must be some more favorites out there that I've never even heard of. I'm hoping that even though this question is broad, someone will think, "Wow, Dave hasn't eaten at _________ yet??" and tell me about it. So, what else should I add to my list?

Where I've Eaten:

San Tung
Shanghai Dumpling King
Shanghai House
Burma Superstar
Mandalay
Genki Ramen
Prince Cafe
Creations Dessert House (still super glad I found about this place from kc72 and rworange)
Pho Hoa Hiep II

That might be it.

Thanks a lot,

Dave MP

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  1. I thought the CHINESE BACON WITH GARLIC at whichever SPICES I
    was at was excellent ... that may have been the best cold chinese dish i've had
    since the "Chinese Laundry" outing.

    The real chinese person at the table seemed to also like the bok choy+mushroom
    item. The cucumbers with garlic paste is pretty intense but pretty good ... one plate
    s probably enough for 6-8, a little hard to get through with 3. The dumplings in red
    oil were also good, although I've had better on other occasions [but this is still a totally
    solid endorsement]. The cumin beef also was good, but I havent had this many
    times so, I cant make a relative comparison. I didnt like the ma po tofu, but
    that's almost certianly my palate ... the real chinese person pronounced it fine.

    while i wouldnt consider S/S2 pricey, i think it's a couple of bucks more
    than many other chinese places. finding non-meat items shouldnt be a
    problem there.

    BTW, we went to that asian/HKG dessert operation afterwards and they
    had some kind of special running on a couple of mango items which were
    excellent. they tasted like good asian managos ... some times mangos
    i've gotten here have been a little bland. thank god for something other than
    bean/seed-based chinese desserts :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: psb

      I've been to Spices II several times, but never have eaten at Spices I. Other than stinky tofu (which I don't like) are there reasons to go to Spices I? Any recommendations?

    2. KL on Balboa ought to be on your list. It's one of those "Huh?" places you are tempted to jealously keep to yourself, but heck, Patty Unterman's review didn't kill it off, so how could my recommendation? But then again maybe more people read Chowhound than the Examiner....

      http://www.examiner.com/a-540114~Boun...

      If you go to Spices 1 and are up for stinky tofu, get the skewered version if you want to enjoy the full bouquet.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Gary Soup

        Coincidentally, I just noticed that PU's review of Shanghai House has finally come out (I had heard it was going to be glowing). She also confirmed the rumor that SH's owner is a former Wu Kong chef. It might be a tough table at the moment.

        http://www.examiner.com/a-657780~Wort...

        1. re: Gary Soup

          That's a nice review. I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the vegetarian options there when I went, but some of those dishes sound great. I would definitely return if there's not too long a line, though something new like KL also sounds great....

          Dave MP

        2. re: Gary Soup

          KL looks great. I definitely want to try it. I looked at their menu on menupages....Gary, have you tried the pork with mustard greens? If so, can you describe it at all?

          Dave MP

          1. re: Dave MP

            I've had it on occasion but not at KL. Frankly, at my age and dining regimen I find it difficult to justify eating something with such a high saturated fat content! It's considered a Hakka dish, and the Wikipedia article on Hakka cuisine has a picture (last one on the page) with such a high resolution you can almost taste it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakka_cu...

            1. re: Gary Soup

              Wow, that looks really really good.

          2. re: Gary Soup

            I still haven't tried KL, but I'd like to at some point......maybe this is a good option.

            1. re: Dave MP

              Stopped by KL earlier this week and the place was 80% full and 99.5% of the clientele was Chinese which usually means good food and good value. Our table had the geoduck cooked two ways (one as soup and the other as sashimi); clams w/ black bean sauce; chicken with ginger/scallions; garlic bean sprouts (dao miu); salt/pepper squid; seafood/tofu claypot; and beef brisket/tendon claypot. Everything was tasty with the squid and geoduck my two faves; the clams were OK but the sauce was too salty and too thick.

              The 2 geoduck dished themselves were about $75 which was about 1/2 the total bill (before tax/tip). Steamed white rice is $1.50 per person. Free dessert was warm tapioca which was refreshing. Brought two bottles of wine but they didn't charge corkage. For a Chinese place, the service was surprisingly attentive and not understaffed. I'd definitely go again.

              1. re: baron45

                link

                -----
                KL RESTAURANT
                4401 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA

          3. Best Panda. I've heard Panda Country Kitchen is owned by the same people.

            Singapore-Malaysian.

            Han Il Kwan's pretty good Korean.

            Old Mandarin Islamic for hot pot.

            Ton Kiang for dinner. It's mostly known for dim sum but their "Steamed Bacon with Dried Mustard Greens" (梅菜扣肉) is the best version of that dish I've had.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Actually Best Panda & Panda Country Kitchen are not related. The people at Best Panda owns Bay Fung Tong (upper Balboa around 6th?).

              1. re: asianstamp

                I suggest you try Bay Fung Tong, though parking is a killer there, worse than Irving and/or Geary. Good, not great, Chinese food, with prices that are hard to beat.

                Some suggestions: Bay Fung Tong crab, Big/Large pea sprouts w/garlic, if you want to be bold, try the mirugai/geoduck clam done 2 ways, deep fried and raw, clam in wine sauce, and a tofu dish. I am a veggie and seafood lover so I stick with those types of food. Overall I think their veggie + meat dishes tend to be overly greasy and "saucy". I also had an excellent frog dish, and and their salted fish and fried rice was tasty, and not at all greasy.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Best Panda was a great post-frisbee dinner spot - too bad they are under renovation right now. Grr.

                I didn't love Singapore Malaysian, but maybe it's time to give it another try. What should I order? I remember mostly liking the roti canai and not much else.

                Old Mandarin Islamic was great too, but it's a bit far away.

                How expensive is Ton Kiang at dinner?

                1. re: Dave MP

                  My favorites at Singapore-Malaysian are the roti canai, chow kway teo, curry mee, and Hainan chicken.

                  Per Ton Kiang's Web site, the steamed bacon with dried mustard greens is $10.50:

                  http://www.tonkiang.net/Meat.html

                  My Tofu House (Korean soft tofu stew) is a great value.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I also liked the chow kway teo & curry mee. Is curry mee supposed to be a variation of laksa?

                    1. re: DezzerSF

                      I think laksa lemak (aka curry laksa) and curry mee are the Singapore and Penang names for the same dish. Mee are wheat egg noodles (mein), laksa are rice noodles, but most of the laksa lemak recipes in my Singaporean cookbooks call for whichever is available.

                      Note that the laksa on the menu at S-M is the sour fish soup.

                  2. re: Dave MP

                    I went by Best Panda the other day. It looks like they are closing for good because there's a new sign (Empero Taste). Chinese name translation: No. 1 Seafood and Dim Sum Restaurant (yes they will be serving dim sum). Not sure if it's still owned by the Panda people but expect changes.

                    1. re: asianstamp

                      That's strange, cause when I went by two weeks ago, I looked at the small cardboard sign in the door and it said they'd be re-opening after renovations....didn't seem like it was changing ownership, though I guess the cardboard sign might have been misleading on purpose :)

                      Dave MP

                      1. re: asianstamp

                        If they're changing ownership, there should be a liquor license transfer notice in the window.

                  3. Dave I have not been to Ming Tai and I heard they have a great shrimp dumpling noodle soup
                    2455 Noriega Street (between 31st Ave. and 32nd Ave.) Has anyone tried this place?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Lori SF

                      Yes, Ming Tai is great -- especially those delicious shrimp dumplings. The broth in the soup isn't all that exciting, but the dumplings are really stellar. Worth the long trip on the 71.

                      1. re: shortexact

                        Sorry I forgot to post this earlier. For extra mouth-watering enticement, here's a picture I took of this soup, from my most recent visit to Ming Tai:

                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/54568662...

                        1. re: shortexact

                          That looks great, thanks! If I don't go there tonight, I'll definitely try to make it soon.

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            They do close early. Their hours, last I noticed them:

                            Mon, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm; Tuesday, 8:00 am - 2:00 pm; Thurs-Fri, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sat-Sun, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. Closed Wednesdays.

                      2. re: Lori SF

                        They had a branch somewhere in suburbia that was discussed quite a bit, but I believe it is now defunct.

                        1. re: Gary Soup

                          Yeah, in Millbrae I think. I never made it to that branch, so I couldn't compare the two. But I believe you're right that the Millbrae one has closed.

                          EDIT: Yup. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360125

                        2. re: Lori SF

                          I did eventually make it to Ming Tai and they did have great dumplings! The broth was just OK. Other places like this that are closer to GG Park would be great!

                        3. In the Sunset, I really like Lam Hoa Thuan ( 2337 Irving St, San Francisco 94122
                          At 25th Ave,) a Chinese/Vietnamese place that has excellent wonton noodle soups (I particularly like #4 on the menu,) bbq meats, fried shrimp cakes, salt and pepper squid (the best I've ever had,) and loads of other great dishes. To see their menu, go here:

                          http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                          I also like Hong Kong Seafood S & T on Noriega at 33rd Ave. for absolutely wonderful dim sum and excellent dinner offerings, too. Here's some more info:

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/332512

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Nancy Berry

                            Thanks for bring up S&T. I think it's the best food I've had in the Sunset.

                            1. re: Nancy Berry

                              Lam Hoa Thuan was good the one time I ate there, but not great. Maybe it's time to try it again. It's very close to Wonderful Foods, which is a big plus.

                              In general, anywhere close to Wonderful Foods gets major points since we always like going there post-dinner.

                            2. Nan King Road on 9th between Irving & Judah. Very YUMMY, although it's not your traditional Chinese restaurant. For non-Chinese, Tawan's Thai restaurant on Geary at 9th is very good. Also, La Vie Vietnamese on Geary (can't remember the exact cross street, but it's in the low 20's). If you're interested in Korean food, then Brothers is the place (on Geary at 6th). Finally, for good, cheap Japanese fish, try Taraval Okazu Ya (on Taraval, of course). There is also supposedly a great Vietnamese restaurant that serves soft shell crab on Clement that is rumored to be good. Sorry I don't have more info on that.

                              1. Thanks everyone for all the responses. Not sure yet where we'll eat tonight, though when I mentioned the Malaysian option to my friend, she was excited. However, all the other suggestions sound great and I'm sure I'll be using this list in the future too.

                                I'll report back

                                Dave MP

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  S&E Cafe on 19th ave and Taraval is decent. Dishes that I'd recommend are: (1) their "signature" curry beef brisket (2) the slippery egg and shrimp flat rice noodles (3) the baked pork chop rice with white sauce and (4) their porridge. I also think they fry the Chinese donut (the ones that go with the porridge) when you order it.

                                  Come to think of it I don't think there is much difference between the food there and popular places in Hong Kong like Tsui Wah 翠華餐廳 as well as the "venerated" institution that is Tai Ping Koon 太平館餐廳 (which I think is sooo overrated). Same goes for stuff from Broadway Bistro and Cafe Selena on Broadway Ave in Millbrae - they're decent as well.

                                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                    link to S & E

                                    -----
                                    S & E Cafe
                                    2406 19th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94116