I was at Spices! 3 in Oakland Chinatown last week and it was on the menu, I think 7.95$ or something. I didn't check to make sure they actually had it, but since it is in season about this time they should. If you try it there please report back . . . I wanted to get it but I was with a friend who never had bittermelon (or sichuan/taiwanese food) before and I didn't want to scare her . . .
I'm not quite sure of what you mean by the South Asian version ...
At Pacific East Mall ...
- beef and bittermelon
- pork spare rib with bittermelon in clay pot
- braised cod belly with bitter melon
Haven't tried them .. just letting you know they are there. That's also off the menu and not including any specials there might be.
not sure if this is what the poster meant, but the kind they use in Indian food is different looking, darker green, smaller and more "bumpy" . . . . they sell it at b.bowl, right next to the chinese/vietnamese kind.
i've only ever eaten this style bittermelon at naan-n-curry on telegraph (it was enjoyable, not very bitter at all) . . . you can get it either vegetarian or with different types of meat there.