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best med priced Chinese?

Big dilemma. My mother is finally coming to visit this weekend and wants to treat us to a Chinese dinner. I have no idea where to go since I'm in Marin and am Chinese food-deprived. We'll go anywhere in the city or within a 20 mile radius. This is a family whose major topic of conversation is food and knows every place in Los Angeles, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, etc. I'd like to show that SF can compete w/ the best of the southland. Any help appreciated.

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  1. What region? E.g., Sichuan, Canton, Shanghai, Beijing, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Any region. Pretty adventurous eaters so an unusual menu would be nice.

    2. 20 mile radius eh? I think Koi Palace makes that an easy choice. It easily outperforms any LA cantonese...SGV, Rowland Heights, you name it. I'm not sure if they still have live abalone but that will certainly impress them and surprisingly, it won't cost an arm and leg (3 for $20). Aside from that, the 10+ tanks of seafood should also impress them. When my parents visit from LA, we usually go for both dinner AND dim sum. It'll be tough to try and beat LA for Shanghainese or Sichuan.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        I second Koi Palace if the goal is to be as good or better then SGV...but it can get pricey. Medium priced and as good as SGV...that's a bit tougher.

        1. re: ML8000

          If exceeding SGV is your goal I think Koi Palace is your only choice.

      2. You can head over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for Daimo or Asia Pearl at the Pacific East Mall.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kc72

          China Village in Albany is a reasonably easy drive from Marin, over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

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          China Village
          1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

        2. I can't vouch for it myself, but I've read opinions by a number of LA hounds that the xiaolong bao up here is better than in LA (even DTF) so you might want to work in a side trip to Shanghai Dumpling King, Shanghai House (both on outer Balboa in SF) or Shanghai Restaurant (Oakland) for lunch. Shanghai House also makes the best xian doujiang (savory soy milk soup) I've found in North America.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Gary Soup

            Don't believe the few DTF detractors out there. No restaurant is critic-proof. Asian familes all across Southern California make the weekend drive (as far south as Orange Country and as far east as the Inland Empire) and wait in that ridiculous 90 min to 2 hour line for a good reason. Is the wait absurd? Yes. But there's a reason why people keep coming back. Whether or not it's as good as Taiwan or Shanghai is a moot point (it's like comparing pasta in the US to Rome). DTF Arcadia does make one of the best versions in LA with a thin wrapper that holds up and a well balanced filling. The XLB in the bay area is very good and I would say as good as DTF at some places but I wouldn't say it's better.

            As for xian doujiang. Have you tried Young Ho's version down in SGV?

            1. re: Porthos

              I haven't been to LA in years, which is why I can't vouch for any of the XLB opinions. Does Young Ho's xian doujiang have dried brine shrimp in it?

              1. re: Gary Soup

                It's got pickled mustard, pork sung, and I want to say yes to the dried shrimp but I can't say with 100% certainty. For a shanghai food fanatic I'm surprised you haven't been down to LA more recently. Maybe now that you have more time?

                1. re: Porthos

                  Not much of an LA fanatic, though. I get free lodging in Shanghai and the prices are better there for Shanghai food.... ;-) Not to mention that I have a Shanghainese personal chef, a.k.a. wife, here in SF.

                  But who knows.

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Yes, but airfare's gotta count for something...plus, you don't want to get all "M. Bauer" on us ;-).

                    It may be worth a weekend trip one of these days. Who knows?

          2. I think R&G Lounge and Old Mandarin Oriental both compete, though they are very different.