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Second visit to Zone 88 - SF - Report

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I hadn't been to Zone 88 since my first visit back in April....

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/391585

...but tonight I was really in the mood for hot and sour soup close to home, so I made a guess (a good one, luckily) that Zone 88 might have good Hot and Sour Soup. Happily, the dinner outing ended up including 4 others, so we tried several dishes.

We started with hot and sour soup, which for $5.95 was a very big bowl....enough so each of us could have two servings. When we ordered, the waitress asked if we wanted pork in the soup, implying that there might be a seafood-only option...we chose the pork option, which had lots of soft tofu, shredded pork and mushrooms. The broth was peppery and had plenty of vinegar. Overall, very good hot and sour soup, and I'd definitely head there next time I have a craving. The soup makers know what they are doing.

The shanghai dumplings were good, but not amazing. They were boiled dumplings with a mainly pork filling, served w/ soy dipping sauce. They looked and tasted very homemade - the dough was cooked a bit unevenly; some dumplings were falling apart, other parts were a bit doughy. Not bad, but for me not a highlight.

Dry-fried string beans were excellent. We ordered this thanks to P. Punko's report....
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/402323

...and they were great. The string beans were cooked perfectly, with a salty and slightly spicy coating.

Eggplant w/ garlic was good, but not as good as I had remembered. I found the sauce a bit sweet this time, but everyone still enjoyed it.

Hunan beef was unexciting, but fine. I only had a few bites, but it had good spice to it.

We ordered kung pao shrimp as the 4th main dish, but the waitress appeared with another dish explaining that they were out of kung pao so we were getting shrimp w/ snow peas instead. This was a little annoying (this seems to happen to me a lot lately) since we probably wouldn't have chosen this dish, but it ended up being very good. Both shrimp and snow peas were cooked perfectly, the snow peas were very crisp and fresh tasting. The vegetable cookers in the kitchen also know what they are doing.

Service was not great, but friendly. We were surprised to find the place relatively empty (less than half full) on a Friday evening at 7 PM. Sweet bean soup dessert w/ rainbow tapioca was complimentary (and tasty). The total bill was 56.60 before tip for the 5 of us. Once again, a pretty good bargain.

Overall, I think Zone 88 is a very reliable, good Chinese restaurant. Presentation of food is above average, and the decor is pretty nice as well. Most importantly, it seems like there are people in the kitchen who take the time to cook dishes correctly. I'll definitely return.

Dave MP

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Zone 88 Inc
2428 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

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  1. that's funny, I was in the mood for hot and sour soup tonight, partially to get the memory of the really not-good soup I had at Old Town Cafe out of my mind, and partially just because it was that type of night....We thought about Zone 88, but decided we wanted tried and true, so we went to Lotus Garden for their (Vietnamese) version with prawns....it was great as always...highly recommended. Will have to try the Zone 88 version soon too...thanks for the report!

    1. Thanks for the update. They have a website, who knew? Free range chicken and taro root? Now just what is a "Fairy" pig knuckle?

      1 Reply
      1. re: rworange

        Oops - forgot the link. There's another place record out there.

        -----
        Zone 88 Inc
        2428 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

      2. We had a pretty amazing meal at Zone 88 a couple of weeks ago.

        We had the following :
        1. Hot and Sour Soup (with white meat - Chicken)
        2. Sliced Fish in spicy hot sauce (this was superlative)
        3. Chicken Chow Mein
        4. Chicken with Snap Peas

        And funnily enough, it was a craving for Hot and Sour soup that brought us here !
        I could not find fault with any of the above, very slow but polite service.

        This is one of our regular venues.

        1. Chong Qing wings next time, D- I have such a craving right now.

          Those green beans really are so simple and perfect. I like that Zone 88 is really clean and what may be lacking in service shows up in their friendliness and the care they take with the food. We also thought the dumplings were just pretty OK, but you could still tell they were well prepared, if that makes any sence

          1 Reply
          1. re: P. Punko

            hubby and I stopped in for a late lunch on Friday: it was too nice out for me to be in a soup mood, ....but we did really enjoy the cumin lamb. I *was* in a leafy vegetable mood so instead of string beans we tried the vinegared bok choy. I thought it hit the spot, but hubby told me after eating his half that he really wasn't that fond of vinegar...sigh...for his sake at least should have gotten the string beans! Was interested to note that the green beans and a tofu dish were the staff dinner when they all sat down to eat just after we left (at about 2:30 p.m.). Portions are generous; prices are low, service was very friendly and for us, not at all slow...but there were only a few tables occupied.

          2. I stopped here last Friday night and it was about 1/2 full. The food was not as flavorful as in my previous 2 trips to Z-88. Our group of three had the spareribs in a pumpkin which was very bland. We also had spicy fish with vegetables which was decent. The spicy cold noodle dish was not spicy at all and was bland as well. I guess this time we ordered all the wrong dishes compared to our other meals here.