HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Fan Tuan (sticky rice rolls) [split]

[Note: We split this thread from http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401148 so it could get more attention. -- The Chowhound Team


If anyone ever found a good place for fan tuan (sticky rice rolls), Please let me know!! 99 Ranch used to sell it, but the ones they've had for the past few months have been without the you tiao. Sad and limp.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I had a really good one from China Stix in Santa Clara - on their weekend only breakfast menu - that was almost two years ago. I'm planning on making a repeat trip soon, will report back if it's still as good.

    1. Where are you located? Gas is too high for just drive around.

      12 Replies
      1. re: yimster

        Yimster, sounds like you have tips. Pls spill!

        I would love to find a place in the East Bay, but since I'm about to make another 90 mile round trip drive to Sunnyvale to look for those apricots rworange says are one of the best things she's ever eaten, I figured I'd hit China Stix while I'm down there.

        1. re: daveena

          The food court of "Little Taipei" aka Lion Plaza in Fremont off warm springs, should have fan tuan and supposedly pretty good by Taiwanese standards.If memory serves it is the one to the right of the place that sells HK Cantonese style BBQ, a vendor that sells Northern Chinese style food and the usual starch coma goodness called Northern Chinese dim sum brunch items.

          I seem to recall Grace Garden in Burlingame having it on weekends but it is not cheap.

          Also try Marina Foods in Union City, Cupertino.

          1. re: K K

            Do you know if the ones from Lion Plaza and Marina Foods are premade, or made to order? (I guess I'll assume Marina's are premade)

            1. re: daveena

              All premade, since they specialize in food to go. If you arrive when they open, it should be as fresh. Marina Foods open at 9 am on weekends, and that's the best time to get your yoh tieo, hot soymilk, fan tuan. Letting them sit any longer and your mileage will vary. I have not had the Lion Plaza version in years, and I'm hoping that vendor is still there. I thought their FT was quite good at the time.

              Make to order would hopefully be some sit down restaurant.

              Man this thread is making me miss the black sticky rice variant FT that I had in Yungho Taipei earlier this year for breakfast, (the part of town that specializes in the burnt flavor soymilk amongst many other delicacies). And now we have to post to look for a decent version of the the standard regular one, so sad.

          2. re: daveena

            Hunan Home in Los Altos, Joy in Foster City for two. Sorry have not been in the East Bay for a weekend lunch for years. But maybe 168 in Richmond.

            Lots in San Jose and Curpernito but no names off hand. Not a item I should be eating.

            1. re: yimster

              Do you remember if any stand out as being especially good? I'm actually looking for the whole xian dou jiang/shao bing you tiao experience (although, I guess if you're not supposed to be eating fan tuan, you're not supposed to be eating you tiao either) - any favorites?

              Glossary for anyone else reading along:
              you tiao - fried Chinese cruller (savory).
              fan tuan - sticky rice roll stuffed with pork sung (pork fried and shredded to the texture of sawdust), you tiao (preferably extra-crispy), and pickled vegetable
              dou jiang - soy milk
              tian dou jiang - sweet soy milk
              xian dou jiang - salty soy milk - somewhere between solid and liquid - seasoned with vinegar, topped with extra-crispy you tiao, pickled vegetable

              1. re: daveena

                Ya know, I can't believe I'm responding to this. Daimo has all three rice rolls, you tiao and salty soy milk.

                The first two are sold at breakfast. I don't have a lot of experience in this type of food so when I saw rice rolls, I assumed they were the same thing I saw at Fat Wong's in Millbrae ... you tiao wrapped in the white rice wrappers ... or something. Could be it is fan tuan.

                I liked the you tiao a lot. They are freshly made and not greasy. Terrific congee ... but that's another story.

                BTW, 99 Ranch in Richmond makes you tiao on the weekend. They are VERY oily.

                A response to another comment in this thread. If you are making the long ride to Olsen for the apricots, call them to see if you can get there the same day they have apricots and the Santa Rosa plums. There is a brief window when they usually have both and the plums are up there with the apricots ... both road-trip worthy.

                Some pictures of fan tuan ... on the last, toward the bottom. Also a picture of you tiao.

                1. re: rworange


                  BTW - do you think the Santa Rosa plums from CJ Olsen are significantly better than the ones we can get from the Oakland farmer's markets? The Santa Rosas I got last year were so good I can't imagine anything being better.

                  1. re: daveena

                    Yeah. Much better. People I gift these apricots and plums remember them years later. In fact someone I'm driving down with soon brought up the subject himself recently ... if you buy those wonderful apricots this year, would you please, please buy some for me.

                2. re: daveena

                  What I've noticed at quite a few places I've had the Northern Chinese style brunch is that none of them make all of what you mentioned great. Only one or two items great at one place, and maybe another that does the next item better, but never 4 or 5 things.

                  Salty version of soymilk, I suppose you will have to get that at the Shanghainese restaurants. I've never really got into this, but I suppose those various Shanghai East/Shanghai Xiaochir restaurants in San Mateo/Oakland should do this fine. Another place that comes to mind that might have most or all of the above and does it well is Su Hong Eatery in Palo Alto.

                  Apparently Chef Woo in San Jose does an excellent shao bing and maybe yoh tieo, but have heard reports to stay away from everything else.

                  The yoh tieo at Everyday Beijing in San Mateo is sub par, but they have an interesting soy milk that has an interesting "burnt grainy" flavor, reminds me of the flavor of Yong Ho soymilk in Taipei, but very different. Their purple rice congee with red beans is excellent and hearty/comforting (weekends only).

                  I used to go up to SF on the weekends almost 7 years ago, this Shanghainese place on Geary that did sweet soy milk (hot) and yoh tieo that was quite decent. Can't remember the English name, but in Mandarin it was Shin Hu Jiang, close but across the street from a parking complex that had a blockbuster downstairs (is that place still around? It used to be superb for lunch and dinner).

                  Perhaps I haven't been going to the right places...

                  1. re: K K

                    Re: salty soy milk, Taiwan Restaurant on University Ave in Berkeley has it, along with sweet soy milk, and sweet and salty versions of soft tofu, but only on weekends. I almost went for the sweet tofu today, it's simple but soothing. They also have 'you tiao', though they are greasy and not to my taste.

                  2. re: daveena

                    The best you tiao I have had in the Bay Area is at Hing Lung on Broadway in San Francisco. A Cantonese jook house. Freshly fried in front of you very eyes.

                    As for Hunan Home, the one in San Francisco is better than the one in Los Altos.

                    The best I have in this area of food in not in the Bay Area. Another board if it comes up.

            2. Szechwan Restaurant in Oakland serves it. They are pretty good, they also serve nothern breakfast food... soy milk (salty & sweet) and dumplings.

              366 8th Street ยท Oakland

              3 Replies
              1. re: lemoncoke

                Thanks lemoncoke - do you know if they fry their you tiao fresh? I've been wary of ordering you tiao in Oakland because a couple of the delis and take-out dim sum places sell pre-cooked ones. I once saw a man rush in, buy a huge sack, and rush out - the only reason I could think of for such urgency is that his restaurant ran out : )

                I've ordered you tiao at Shanghai Restaurant and got a cold, ossified one, dripping oil, and haven't tried anywhere else since.

                1. re: daveena

                  My uncle (who used to own a resto in Chinatown) claims that all the you tiao serving places in Oakland C town get it from Szechwan because they are the only ones who make them fresh and thats why oftentimes the you tiao ordered at other spots come cold or stale; but he last made this statement a few years ago so I dunno if things have changed.

                  1. re: S U

                    I'm sorry I don't know if it's fresh you tiao. But they make it fresh when you order it. It's not a take out place, it's a real chinese restuarant. I only know of this place that have the fan tuan.

              2. So I went to Szechuan Restaurant for lunch.

                Quick review:
                Fan tuan - really good! They squash TWO you tiao into the middle. These were clearly freshly fried, super crispy. Good balance of pork sung and pickled vegetables.

                Salty soy milk - this was a thinner style than the nearly custard-like version I had at China Stix. Pickled vegetable and unidentifiable protein shreds sank to the bottom. 5 generous chunks of you tiao on top. Tasted pretty good, but I think I like the custardy version better.

                You tiao - on their own, they were a bit greasy. Different from both China Stix' double-barrelled behemoths (I know my memory betrays me sometimes, but I swear theirs are at least a foot and a half long) and the uniform ones you see all over Oakland Chinatown. These were irregular, about a foot long, and tasted pretty good... but I didn't feel so great after I ate one (they come two to an order).

                And thus, I realized the folly in my original plan to eat every you tiao/xian dou jian/fan tuan in the Bay Area, Melanie Wong-style... you really can't do this more than once a month. Or if you do, bring a lot of people to help. Then eat kale for the rest of the day. Or week.

                1. China Village (albany) also has you tiao, and soy milk

                  1. Reporting back on China Stix...

                    You tiao - perfectly greaseless and golden.
                    Fan tuan - lower rice to filling ration, which I prefer. Stuffed with you tiao, tons of pork sung (which I loooooove), and preserved vegetable, no dried shrimp (forgot to mention Szechuan Restaurant's had dried shrimp). Preferred this version to Szechuan Restaurant's...although I have a feeling that, as with mac and cheese, I'll pretty much like every version I'll ever eat.
                    Sweet soy milk
                    Fish dumplings

                    OK -
                    Salty soy milk - not sure why I didn't like it as much this time as last.

                    Scallion pancakes (very, very heavy and doughy)

                    I ordered the purple 8-treasure rice and we never got it, but we were so stuffed I didn't ask for it again.

                    link to my original post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40063...

                    China Stix
                    2110 El Camino Real (between Scott and Los Padres, in the Mervyn's shopping center
                    )Santa Clara, CA

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: daveena

                      What is it about scallion pancakes that they are hard to do well? China Stix, disappointing, Taiwan Restaurant Berkeley disappointing, and I had some at Shan Dong this afternoon, and they seemed to have changed. They had a lot of that doughy middle, which is filling and not yummy. The platonic ideal of a scallion pancake should have a lot of green onions and crispy outside and only a very little doughy inside. It appeared to have been made by the traditional coiling method. Note, the dipping sauce was very yummy, I wonder if it is black vinegar with chili oil?

                      1. re: Louise

                        I tried to remember the last time I had a really great scallion pancake... I think it was from a Muslim Chinese place in San Gabriel Valley. I almost never order them because they're rarely better than the ones you can buy packaged at 99 Ranch. I didn't reread my own post before I went, and mistakenly remembered that China Stix had good ones (actually, it was the shao bing that I liked last time).

                        Oh, another thing - the Northern Chinese breakfast items are now on the bilingual weekend brunch menu - however, you have to be super-aggressive to get them, as they won't just send a waiter over to take your order. I had the same conversation over and over again with at least four different dim sum cart ladies ("I'm waiting to order off the menu, thanks" "Some of those things are on the carts!" "Yes but I want the soy milk and you tiao." "Oh ok then you need a waiter" "Yes I know that") I ended up flagging someone down, but it took a while.

                        1. re: daveena

                          Do they act like that for everyone, or just gwei lo faan? (which I am)

                          1. re: Louise

                            Not sure - our party had two Asians and one Caucasian - I don't remember having to work this hard when I went with my parents, but back then, they only had those items on a separate printed menu (in Chinese) with checkboxes, so it was obvious if you were going to order off the menu. I think it might be more general disorganization than anything - considering that they've actually translated the Northern Chinese brunch specials into English now, I don't think they're actively discouraging or even ignoring a non-Chinese clientele that wants these items. In any case, it's worth the hassle - just be prepared for it. Next time I'll try telling the hostess as we're being seated that I'm planning to order non-cart items and to please send over a waiter.

                        2. re: Louise

                          I recant my former assertion that "I'll probably like every fan tuan I ever try". Just had a really bad one from Shanghai Restarant in Oakland - greasy , soggy you tiao, very little pork sung, no pickled vegetables (or dried shrimp), excessive rice.

                          I tried to find as many of the restaurants mentioned as possible to tag... might have missed a few.

                          Everyday Beijing
                          637 South B Street, San Mateo, CA

                          Shanghai Restaurant
                          930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

                          China Stix
                          2110 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                          Grace Garden Restaurant
                          1200 Broadway, Burlingame, CA 94010

                          Daimo Chinese Restaurant
                          3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                          Chef Woo Chinese Restaurant
                          6154 Bollinger Rd, San Jose, CA 95129

                          Hunan Homes Restaurant
                          622 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                          Taiwan Restaurant
                          2071 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                          Szechwan Restaurant
                          366 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                          Hing Lung Restaurant
                          674 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                          China Village
                          1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                          China Bee
                          31 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                          Sun Tung
                          153 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                          1. re: daveena

                            Had lunch at Darda's in Milpitas (in the Barber Shopping Center near 99Ranch) and saw it on another table. So add one more on the list.

                      2. In San Francisco, TC Pastry on Irving had 1 today, and I mean 1. I'd never seen fan tuan there before. It sat lonely next to a joong. I asked what it was and the nice employee explained what was inside. It was so so. The yu tiao was limp; I don't think it can stay crispy for long being all wrapped up in the sticky rice. It had pork sung and pickled cabbage. But all in all, not recommended; get the other good things at TCs. In addition, it is not on the menu.

                        By the way, TC's has a chicken bun that looks like it is first steamed and then pan fried. The dough is white flour. It looks like a bao zu that is flattened out a bit. Any one tried these?

                        1. Just went to China Bee, B street San Mateo, and had the sweet dou jiang, beef sao bing, shredded pork/preserved greens noodles and their yao tiao. The yao tiao is light and slightly greasy, but very crispy. The dou jiang comes unsweetened so you add what you need at the table. The sao bing, sesame pancake filled with cold sliced beef was okay, a little too tough for me. The noodles were very good, they used flat noodles which I don't normally see. They had sticky rice rolls (whole glutinous rice grains stuffed (with stuff?) and rolled cigar shaped and wrapped in cellophane. I got there around 11am and it was packed within a 1/2 hour. The people were very friendly, even with my limited mandarin...I will be back to try the scallion pancake next time...

                          1. Just an update on The Noodle in San Mateo, I was shown a menu and fan tuan was on the weekend menu. Have not been as of yet. Hope this helps. Sweet rice is not something that I am a fan of.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: yimster

                              Most Shanghainese restaurants should carry fan tuan on weekends, but it varies on the restaurant. I remember a place called Er Mei in Toronto that had 2 versions, sweet and salty. The sweet one was horrendous, as it was basically the salty one with sugar all over the outside (like a churro) and I got scarred by it thanks to grandma who for some reason doesn't eat sweets but must have her sweet FT. Luckily I have yet to encounter a place that sells sweet FT in the Bay Area.

                              It's actually not sweet rice, but sticky rice, lor mee, or lor mai. The old wise folks in the day warned us against eating too much of this stuff....harder to digest, definitely don't want to give it to infants, and supposedly it gives you too much of yin or was it yang in Chinese medicine.

                              1. re: K K

                                Saw sweet fan tuan on the menus at both China Stix and Szechuan Restaurant but didn't order them - now I'm really glad I didn't.

                                1. re: K K

                                  Also not good it that it will add pounds and pounds. Not recommending it but the OP wanted to know where to get it.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    There was this Shanghai restaurant in Little Taipei (Mission/Warm Springs) in Fremont that had pretty good yo tiao before. I think it was 168, but now it's changed and I don't recall if it's still Shanghai style or not. If it is, they may still serve them on weekends.

                                    I know places like A&J in Cupertino and ASJ in San Jose both have these type of food, though it's hard to see which one is best. Yo Tiao is very difficult to make and can be inconsistent even in the best places. Fan Tuan on the other hand is not as hard to mess up, but depends more on personal taste in terms of ratio or ingredients in them.


                                    1. re: tanspace

                                      I actually tried to order you tiao at A&J two Saturdays ago... well, actually what happened is I circled for half an hour trying to find parking, and so was distracted when I asked my friend (who went in first to get a table) to order "xian dou fu" (salty tofu), not "xian dou jian" (salty soy milk), along with an order of you tiao, and the waitress very rudely asked her if she could even read the Chinese menu, then said "we don't have xian dou fu". So I didn't get any you tiao either. I didn't see any other tables eating it either (this was around 1 pm on Saturday - still possible that they serve them and ran out - by the time I figured out my mistake, it was too late to ask. Also the waitress was really rude).

                                      Has anyone actually tried the you tiao and dou jiang at A&J? I've read many reports that they have it (that's why I went there in the first place), but no actual reports from anyone.

                                      1. re: daveena

                                        If can't wait until the weekends L'epi Dor Bakery on Stevens Creek in the same complex as Azuma Sushi (across the street from the complex that has Elephant Bar, French pastry place, Pot Sticker King etc), offers soy milk and yoh tieo/sao bing on weekdays (they have a few versions of sao bing where you can pick the ingredients inside). This is a Taiwanese bakery run by a couple from Hsin Chu who have been here since....the 70s?

                                        Never had the soy milk there but they have Taiwanese style tofu fa. The sao bing is not bad but not up to authentic Taiwan standards if you've had the real deal. Yoh tieo....well I've had slightly better at Marina in Cupertino on weekends. But for those who want their starch coma fix on weekdays, at least you can go there for it.

                                        I've had the cold soy milk on weekday lunches at A&J and ASJ (they offer it prefilled in cups) but I think they outsource it. I think the New Nutrition House in Milpitas Square also offers sao bing/yoh tieo and soymilk on weekdays, but I haven't been since the supposed ownership change.

                                        Another thing of note, check the freezer section at your local Marina Supermarket (Cupertino, San Mateo). Wei Chuan has a brand of sao bing that is actually not bad! Just heat it up in a toaster oven, and it's ready. A side note, their brand of frozen beef noodle is actually not bad, and heartier than a pack of instant noodles (though with MSG and high sodium to boot so dilute with water).

                                        As far as soy milk goes,you have two choices for home solution (to go with the sao bing). Drive down S. De Anza Blvd and get a container of organic soymilk (sweetened or non sweetened) from Sogo Tofu, who are run by a Hakka Taiwanese family who sell only vegan products (though I'd be wary of getting this during hot hot hot days, it spoils quickly even during transport). You can probably design your own salty soymilk at home with the unsweetened version. For best results heat it up in a pot on the stove.

                                        Although for me the best soy milk in a container is the kind from Nijiya Supermarket (their own brand of organic soy milk).

                                        Can't advise where to get a good yoh tieo to go with the home fixin's. I suppose Marina might have to do so long as you get some kitchen paper to drain out the excess oil.

                                2. My favorite is San Tung in San Mateo--up the street from China Bee