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Chowhounders Dinner Review, Lee Hou, SF

d
diner101 Apr 15, 2007 10:36 PM

Sunday Nite, 4/15, 12 Chowhounders celebrated Income Tax Day by having dinner at a favorite local Chinese restaurant for a crab feast in the Richmond district: Lee Hou, 332 Clement, SF. At the height of the crab season, crab prices could be as low as $8, but alas, tonight it was $12, but still worth it. Following regular chowhounders attended: hosts Melanie Wong, Cynthaia Sasaki, Ruth Lafler, Gordon Wing, Eugen Park, Yimster, Malik Kalfane, etc. It was my first time dining with these illustrious critics, so I was drafted to post with others to comment. Following dishes were sampled and my Chinese American thoughts:

1) Soup, Turtle with chicken feet & herb soup, - yes, turtle with bits of shell and some meat attached, nice tendons on chicken feet
2) soup, beef and chinese herb - not bad either, tasted home made like Mom's
3) 2 crabs made Hong Kong Aberdeen Hurrican Harbor style - deep fried, almost like salt and pepper but without the garlic, instead chile and scallion, very tasty and meaty
4) 2 crabs made standard ginger and scallion with sauce, also very good and messy, best eaten with fingers amongst friends
5) Lap Mai (preserved pork belly) with Lap Cheong (chinese sausage) and preserved duck and brocolli in rice clay pot - nicely done with the perfume and aromas of the three different meats in a large clay pot (2 orders) enought to feed the 12 diners
6) Another clay pot: salt fish with minced pork & rice in clay pot, another family classic and as good as it gets!! (if you like salt fish)
7) snow pea pod leaves, simply stir fried but so good, very yummy
8) fan shee (yam) leaves, again stir fry and just as good. We commented that years ago, yam an pea pod leaves were considered only good to feed pigs. Now it is over $2 to $5 a pound for organic foodies!!
9) special boned chicken stuffed with sticky rice - excellent and impossible to fix at home (or labor intensive), very tasty and for a local place, not bad.
10) bitter melon with shrimp in black bean sauce - love the true bitter taste and went well with the black beans, very traditional home cooking
11) simple stir dry fried noodles with chicken, I think, to end the meal.
12) but wait, the standard tong sui (red bean) dessert drink to satisfy dessert
13) fortune cookies
For me, I give it a 9.1 of 10 for this very satisfying meal. The restaurant was over 90% filled with local Chinese Americans, a sign that this is good food and good value.
The whole tab was $16 (includes tip & tax) per person. So, my wife and I enjoyed it with the other ten experienced diners. I will return, a good sign.
Others will reply also with their posts.

Diner101

  1. Lori SF Apr 18, 2007 12:59 PM

    wow the price is amazing.. I would have to refuse the turtle though.. some critters I just cannot eat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lori SF
      Melanie Wong Apr 18, 2007 05:53 PM

      The long-cooked, double-boiled soups are a specialty here and listed in a special section of the menu called "seasonal soup" or something like that. They're priced as individual portions from $1.50 each up. A couple other people passed on the turtle soup, that's why I ordered a beef-based one too. Some traditional medicine advice on these,
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/23726#90988

      If you do try this place, best to stick with simpler, homestyle dishes. The quality of the shrimp in both the bitter melon dish and the seafood noodles was mediocre, so I'm sticking with the conventional wisdom to not waste your money on seafood other than live crab or snails here. The clay pots have been a safe bet.

      We scheduled this dinner for 5:30pm because between 5 and 6pm, parking spaces turn over. I parked across the street from Clementine, and there were 4 open spaces on that block at the time! Another good time is after 8pm, as the bus stops are available for parking from 8pm to 4am.

      My previous posts on Lee Hou,
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/346208
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42319
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34438...

    2. chaddict Apr 16, 2007 07:34 PM

      "9) special boned chicken stuffed with sticky rice - excellent and impossible to fix at home (or labor intensive), very tasty and for a local place, not bad."

      Ah, but Yimster could do it! Easily...

      Sorry I missed this due to a queasy tummy. I tried to email those on the wait list (whose emails I had) to alert them to a free space but I guess too late. You guys rock for putting this together!

      6 Replies
      1. re: chaddict
        Cynsa Apr 16, 2007 07:52 PM

        yes, the Yimster can debone that chicken at home in six minutes flat and stuff it with sticky rice! does he bone or debone? he's promised to do it just for Malik, will he let us watch?
        I remain loyal to the version of the stuffed chicken at Ming's Diner on Taraval but the dish at Lee Hou last night improved with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
        - hope your tender tummy has settled down.

        1. re: Cynsa
          yimster Apr 16, 2007 08:02 PM

          If you have not been to Ming's recently the cook is gone. Looking for his own place. Not yet but soon.
          So I am not sure about the food at this time. Have not been since he left.

          1. re: yimster
            Cynsa Apr 16, 2007 08:08 PM

            oh, no! do you think that his new location will be in San Francisco?
            We had the stuffed chicken at Christmastime - so that was last year 2006. Please do alert us when and where he resurfaces locally.

            1. re: Cynsa
              yimster Apr 16, 2007 08:11 PM

              Do not knows where, like who know if I really make boneless chicken no one has seen me do it. It may be a urban myth.

              When and if he surfaces I will report it if I find out.

              1. re: yimster
                chaddict Apr 17, 2007 07:53 AM

                Didn't you make this for another hound's father? Hmmmm, I am pretty gullible...

        2. re: chaddict
          Melanie Wong Apr 18, 2007 12:32 PM

          Evite has a feature to "send a message to guests", look on the left hand column on the invitation. You can use this to email individuals or groups of guests by reply category. I used it to send out a message to those on the waiting list when spaces became available.

        3. Eugene Park Apr 16, 2007 02:26 PM

          Ruth, did you & Melanie journey to Creations afterwards?

          Yet another successful Chowdown IMO. Old faces, new faces, lots of food-oriented conversation and good food make for a winning combination. Thanks to Malik for bringing the British Columbian wine for us to taste, and to Melanie & Cynthia for organizing. Melanie & Yimster did a fine job of narrowing down the many choices on the menu, and it seems that everyone was pretty content with the meal, based on the lack of leftovers at the end of the meal.

          Claypots were great, especially as they developed a fine crust that most of us were happy to scrape at. I thought the noodles at the end of the meal had some fairly limpid noodles, but then again I've become spoiled by Everyday Beijing's noodles. I also found the stuffed chicken pretty bland, and agree that if they had seasoned and stir-fried the rice beforehand it would have perked up.

          Nonetheless, a fine meal with a fun group of dining companions.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Eugene Park
            Ruth Lafler Apr 16, 2007 02:33 PM

            We did. We both had pomelo desserts with mango -- mine had sago (small tapioca) and coconut milk, with a scoop of mango ice cream and diced fresh mango. Even though I'm not really a mango person (in general, I don't like the "funky" note of most tropical fruits), I enjoyed this.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              Eugene Park Apr 16, 2007 02:47 PM

              Ah, sounds nice. I could've used a cool dessert afterwards. I was wondering why I was sweating during the course of the meal, then I figured out that it likely had to do with the herbal tonics we started off with.

              1. re: Eugene Park
                Cindy Apr 17, 2007 08:07 AM

                I think it might also have been the crab, the version with the chile pepper?

                1. re: Cindy
                  Eugene Park Apr 17, 2007 08:31 AM

                  That didn't help, but the sweating started before the crab dishes showed up.

          2. Cynsa Apr 16, 2007 08:48 AM

            Excellent post, Jim - and a warm welcome to you, Gingee, and Cindy -we had the good company of the 'hounds and the pleasures of the table. The Sunday dinner at Lee Hou satisfied on all counts with some of my favorite comfort foods. Hooray for salted fish hom yu/pork on rice in the clay pot!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cynsa
              j
              jhinky Apr 16, 2007 09:56 AM

              Oh a second on the salted fish/pork on rice claypot. I managed to snag a nice bit of the crab roe from both the salt and pepper one and the ginger scallion one. Like Gordon mentioned above the crab was a tad bit soft - but the prep was quite good. My favorite was the ginger scallion one - I kept eating all the ginger and scallion with the gravy from the serving dish even after the crab was gone :).
              All in all, it was worth hauling down from the East bay for the great company alone (thank you Chowhounds :) but the food was satisfying too.

              1. re: jhinky
                Ruth Lafler Apr 16, 2007 01:25 PM

                I was into the sauce on the ginger-scallion crab as well. I don't remember having such a "saucy" version of this sauce, and it probably loses style points for being rather thick (one could almost say gloopy), but it was delicious nonetheless.

                Both the rice clay pots were good, I thought. In particular, the lap mai, which actually had a decent amount of meat to do with the rice. The crust from the bottom was tasty, especially with some of the ginger/scallion sauce from the crab.

                I'm not sure which veggie dish was which, but they were both delicious.

                The soups were interesting -- in particular, the beef-herb soup was noticably sweet, leaving almost a syrupy sensation in the mouth.

                Nice to see old chowpals and meet new ones!

            2. Cindy Apr 16, 2007 08:05 AM

              I enjoyed my first chowhound meal - it was very fun to put faces to names, and eat very satisfying food at a good price. Thanks much to Cynthia and Melanie for organizing, Diner101 for writing up, and everyone else for their good company. (Yimster, I am sending you a bill for the spilled tea! :D) Thanks again.

              1. yimster Apr 16, 2007 07:04 AM

                Thanks to Cynsa and Melanie for doing all the work for this chowdown.

                The crabs were sweet and fresh but on the small size and as Gordon said a little soft. End of the season.

                The best dish to me was the salted fish and pork hash.

                The stir fry yam leaves was the best vegetable dish to me.

                The Herbal soup would have been is the weather was colder Turtle I was told was best on a cold day to warm you up. I remember when old family member after having the soup not talking to keep the heat in.

                Good cheap eats and good company.

                1 Reply
                1. re: yimster
                  Melanie Wong Apr 18, 2007 12:28 PM

                  You and I are in synch on our favorites. Now I know how to say yam leaves and can request this dish. I was in Lien Hing, on the next block from Lee Hou, and noticed that some lovely, fresh and tender yam leaves were offered at the produce stand.

                  The meal was actually better than I expected from my previous visits here. Both vegetable dishes were better than usually found at this price point --- very fresh, well-trimmed, tender, stir-fried to just the right point, and a light hand with the garlic. Each heaping plate was $10. Bigger portion than expected, I'm glad I didn't order a double of each.

                  The lop mei even had the kind of lop cheong with liver (duck, pork?) in it. While the rice was nicely flavored from the preserved meat fats seeping through and crispy, the cured meats were on the tough side and not cooked through to tenderness. I liked the pork hash a lot with the roughly hewed chunks from hand-chopping. When I took the lid off this one and saw the clearly visible, glistening bits of firm pork fat, I knew it was going to be good. At home, we don't use onion on our pork hash, but I thought it tasted very good here and I'll try it next time. The clay pot rice dishes are on a separate table-top menu card, Chinese only, but our waiter recommended these two to me as the best options.

                2. g
                  gordon wing Apr 16, 2007 01:22 AM

                  Thank you to Cynsa and Melanie for organizing and to all the other attendees for providing such good company. And to Malik for bringing the mystery wine. I haven't been to a chow dinner in a while so it was a real treat to see some familiar faces and new ones as well. Good run down of our dinner Jim. My favorite dishes were the simple but perfectly cooked snow pea leaves w/ garlic and the Aberdeen Crab preperation - loved that there was plenty of crab "butter" to go around. The crab(s) were pretty sweet but the texture was a bit soft (nearing end of the season) - still tasty, tho. The clay pots were both very savory - especially the salted fish/pork one. Yimster thought that the stuffed chicken might have been a cornish hen? - the stuffing was on the bland side and the small size of the bird led to pretty dry meat by the time it was fried crispy. The seafood noodles at the end were subtle(clean) but satisfying - had a bit of texture to the noodles and a seafood flavor in the background. We had plenty to eat and a nice variety.

                   
                   
                   
                   
                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gordon wing
                    m
                    Malik Apr 16, 2007 04:32 PM

                    The wine was a 2005 Graymonk Kerner Late Harvest from British Columbia:
                    http://www.graymonk.com/WinePortfolio...

                     
                    1. re: Malik
                      yimster Apr 16, 2007 07:22 PM

                      Thanks for the wine I really enjoyed it.

                      Hope to break again soon

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