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Tongue, Anyone?

Hi, SF Chowhounds!
Long time no post. Long story short: my husband wants tongue, but he'll have to do it himself. Er...that sounds odd, so short story long - I'll explain myself.

I categorically refuse to cook that huge scary cow's tongue that terrified me as a young child everytime I'd see my Grandma Gertrude leave the thing waiting to cook, or cooling down, on her Brooklyn kitchen drainboard, and consequently I won't eat it. Nay, I won't touch it, or even look at it.

But after all these years of cooking for him my husband has come forth with the request for tongue - cow's tongue, to be exact, and it so creeps me out that I don't even quite know what exactly I'm asking for...is it best roasted...I know it's boiled (that's what Grandma Gertrude did with it), or is it only available sliced and nitrated in delis (I prefer no preservatives - but if that's the only game in town it will have to do).

I have agreed to ask you all where my husband can find cooked tongue as long as he agrees not to chase me around the apartment with it or otherwise brandish the horrid organ. So, I'm picturing something that could be kept in an opaque wrapping in the fridge that he, who does not cook AT ALL, could easily serve himself (with me none the wiser)?

So, please - some places in SF that Richard could obtain some really good (well wrapped) cooked cow's tongue.


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  1. On Wednesdays he can get it at La Perla in South San Francisco. Tongue is the Wednesday special.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nancy Berry

      I love lengua. Smoked tongue on a sandwich is good and chopped tongue on a taco is good. Lengua at La Perla in South San Francisco on Wednesdays is HEAVEN SENT; it's silky and velvety and melts on your tongue, it makes you sigh, moan, and weep.

      La Perla
      224 Lux Ave
      South San Francisco, CA 94080
      (650) 589-8302

    2. just South of SF but worth the short detour to La Perla on Wednesdays for tongue. Very tasty stuff here - plus their house made tortillas.

      I realize that it's not exactly what you inquired about - something that you could keep in the fridge but think of it this way .... he can go out and eat it. you won't have to risk seeing it in the fridge and the ensuing flashbacks to Brooklyn.

      1. Many decent, non-anglofied taquerias serve beef tongue (lengua). I see it all the time but never order it. Also can get it in pho at some places.

        1. Some Chinese delis also have cooked, marinated cow tongue as well. There is one on Stockton around Pacific or thereabouts that I don't remember the name of that sells cooked cow tongue.

          Actually, I'm munching on a taco truck lengua burrito as I'm typing. =)

          1. Panchita's #3 in the Mission, has superb tongue, as does La Corneta (theirs is in a mildly spicy, smoky red sauce - it's awesome) in Glen Park...

            4 Replies
            1. re: sfoperalover

              Piense Ud. que Panchita's numero tres tiene lengua mas delisciosa de todos las Panchita's? Personalmente, me gusta numero dos.
              Y La Corneta en Glen Park, es la misma que la restaurante que es en la calle Mission?
              Hey, did I say that correctamente?
              Does panchita's number 2 on 16th near Valencia make tongue as well as number 3? (I've only been to number 2). And does the La Corneta in Glen Park make it as well (same owners?) as La Corneta on Mission street?
              Actually, currently, you just named my absolute favorite Latino restaurants in SF. It can't be a coincidence. Both are incredible BARGAINS too!

              1. re: niki rothman

                no trato escribir en espanol....
                panchitas #3 is run by the son of panchita, who named it in honor of his mother. i have never had the tongue at #2, but love it at #3. also, i assume that the lengua at Corneta in GP is as good as their mission branch (also, a secret - the ceviche at Corneta is outstanding and CHEAP)

                1. re: sfoperalover

                  Wow! Thanks for the ceviche "secret". That is much more up my own personal alley than tongue (ick!) My own personal La Corneta tips for you are the shrimp and carne asada (flame grilled!) but you have to insist they grill it very rare to order or, like all taquerias, you get what has been waiting around drying out and getting rubbery.

                  1. re: niki rothman

                    If you know any restarateurs or market owners that are from Jalisco ask them for Lengua en Escabeche or another cold preparation.... its more like the Basque dish than Lengua Tacos... and probably closer to what you are looking for.

            2. It doesn't quite meet this request, but lamb tange is lovely, and nowhere near as scary as cow tongue. If you ever decide to surprise your hubby by cooking tongue, you might start there. There's always Pork tongue at Oliveto during the Whole Hog in February (and sometimes at other times). And, on the beef tongue end of things, Saul's in Berkeley does a typical deli tongue sandwich (and I have to admit a fondness for tongue loaf). Venice Gourmet in Sausalito seems to carry it as well. Genova Deli in Oakland does too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lexdevil

                Tongue loaf does not sound intimidating. It probably just looks like meatloaf, right?
                Where does one find the best tongue loaf, pray tell, in SF?
                And NO, I am STILL not going to cook it, no matter how delicious YOU say it is.
                But, Thanks!

                1. re: niki rothman

                  Tongue loaf isn't like meat loaf. It's that compressed cow tongue w/ gelatin that you find in delis. At least that's what my mom calls it (to differentiate it from cooked tongue in its more natural, tongue-like state). I like it, having grown up stealing scraps from my mother's deli sandwiches. But no, it's not intimidating. It looks less scary than head cheese, for example. And it isn't shaped like a tongue.

              2. ooo yummy, tongue... as manda posted, chinese delies often have both beef & pork tongue. I think the beef is more common, served w/ a soy based sauce I think. I had the amazing lamb tongue app several months back @ Maykadeh (Persian) in North Beach... it was wondrously tender.

                I noticed from your post that you would not be interested in cooking the thing, but for other chowhounds: I've found the thing in Sam's in Concord... of course I've never tried to cook it myself but my mom does a great rendition w/ star anise, soy sauce?, 5 spice, etc... the only trouble she has is getting that tough outer membrane off the meat. We've tried blanching for 30 secs & attempting to peel the membrane off... didn't work so we tried blanching for 2 mins... still didn't work so 3rd batch we blanched for 5 mins. Then for the next round of trials we dunked it in ice water straight out of the blanch. Still no go... its like peeling an apple when the skin absolutely refuses to come out in one long peel but in tiny chunks... oh well ... time for a post to the home cooking board.

                3 Replies
                1. re: S U

                  That's OK, you go on with your bad tongue loving/cooking self!
                  Now, is Maykedeh open for lunch, general location - approximate cross streets?
                  Any tips on where to buy the Chinese deli tongues in SF?

                  1. re: S U

                    I usually wait till the tongue is cooked before trying to skin it. Though I can see where, if 'red cooking' it, you might want to skin it earlier, so more of the flavoring gets into the meat. More often, tongue is cooked till tender in a rather simple broth, and then reheated with a more flavorful sauce.

                    Chinese groceries (such as 99 Ranch) sell pork tongues, which are not nearly as intimidating as cow tongue. Sams Club sells double packs of cryo packed beef tongue for a good price.


                    1. re: S U

                      Just a little reminder, Folks-

                      The San Francisco board is all about where to FIND great chow, discussion of tongue in general or cooking it is out of scope fo this board, please share your tongue preperation experiences over on the Home Cooking board.


                    2. I understand your situation completely. I love the stuff -- whether it's Chinese, Mexican or kosher Ashkenazi (Eastern European) style. I have found that a good tongue from the market is often tipping the scales at damn near 5 lbs. Which is too much for me to cook and consume myself when my beloved is out of the house. It's a challenge to do for a solo eater. For prepared tongue, I get my fix at any number of sublime Michoacan-style taquerias in Redwood City (I have yet to count but there are probably 20 really solid operations within the city limits). For really orgasmic tongue -- I mean tongue that will make you want to shout and slap yourself -- you can't beat Nevada basque style, which is often served as a stew, in a big tureen. Half of the time it's lamb tongue, half beef, it seems. Most Basque dinner houses have tongue as a weekly special at least one night a week.

                      So where does that leave you? Still without an answer to your question on finding prepared tongue to take home. I suppose you might hit the jackpot at some Mexican deli in SF. But truly, for the real deal, consider a taqueria or the Basque Cultural Center in S. San Francisco.

                      Sushi Monster

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: hhc

                          OK, you guys...Bsque tongue is the bomb, eh? So, what are the best Basque restaurants in SF?
                          I'll tell Richard.

                          1. re: niki rothman

                            Piperade and something with Luna are the only Basque options in SF. If they have tongue it would be a special.

                      1. Curried beef tongue (or red sauce) on rice, served at many Hong Kong style cafe's. Popular in Singapore and Malaysian restaurants too.

                        1. If your husband is hungry for kosher style, maybe one of the delis in this thread carries it. One poster even provided a couple of phone numbers.


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Zeldog

                            Thanks Zeldog! I'll call around those Jewish type places on the thread.

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                Yikes! that's big news! They had the best pastrami and chopped liver deal by the pound sold for take-out that I had found in SF. I wonder why it closed. Do you know what happened?

                          2. If Richard is willing to branch out a bit, what about duck tongue? There is a Chinese take-out joint on the corner of 6th and Clement that has a delicious duck tongue dish. Their duck tongues are somewhat similar to cow tongues in texture and flavor.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: svL

                              Oh God, not DUCK tongues! That takes the cake, to use a chowish metaphor. Human beings will eat ANYTHING! But the ducky little organs of speech must be so tiny - so sad, so pathetic somehow. Lying there all silently together in a saucy steam table pan. Oh...for the happy quacks of yesteryear when they cried out their squawky joy while paddling freely, dipping down tongues, tails up, to snag a tasty bit of pond life. Life? Sigh...why is it that tongue, of all cuts of meat, seems such a momento mori, and evokes so much chaotic emotion from me? Well, that's a question for another venue...

                              But thanks. Richard WILL go there and get an order of those duck tongues. We do shop that particular Chinese Deli all the time because it's very close to where I make my lox bagel connection (Temple Emmanuel) and Schubert's bakery - home of the divine custard croissant (contains about a pound of custard - all that's missing for atomic armageddon is a fuse), and Lee Hou my fave Chinese bargain restaurant for crabbie treats, AND Kanmai Housewares - the best place outside of the old SF Chinatown for lovely kitchen and serveware at rock bottom prices. San Franciscan chowhounds - don't you just adore those few blocks of Clement - right out to Haig's Mediterranean deli and the See's Candy shop around 9th.?

                              1. re: niki rothman

                                Well Niki, you can have Richard pick a box of duck tongues there and walk up the block to D&A to get a order of XO stir fry Beef Tongues for there three for menu. Also check out the BBQ shop for pork tongues cooked like BBQ pork.

                                Then you can have three tongue dinner.

                                Then after developing a taste for tonges you can start cooking them yourself.

                                If cools off then it is tongue weather.

                            2. Thin sliced tongue for grilling is a menu item often available at Japanese shabu shabu places and Chinese hot pot spots.