Au's Kitchen -- New Cantonese in San Bruno
I've eaten at this tiny new restaurant in the Bayhill Shopping Center (the one with Mollie Stone's) in San Bruno 3 times in the past 2 weeks and have really enjoyed the food and very friendly and helpful service and the welcoming (at dinner) pickled cabbage, daikon, and carrots served before we even ordered. We particularly enjoyed the claypot rice dishes, especially the Chicken Feet, Spareribs, and Rice in the Claypot. This is the real deal -- it takes 20 minutes to prepare, but the delicious crispy rice crust in the clay pot makes it worth every minute. At dinner, they offered to fill the pot and remaining crispy crust with a delicious broth after we had eaten most of the meat. It was a wonderful treat. We also really liked the A-Choi with preserved bean curd. Another good dish was the Eggplant and Fish (catfish) on a sizzling platter. Nice hoisin garlic flavor. We also had a great version of dry-fried green beans with a fabulous spicy minced pork sauce. The only dish that we thought was weak was the deep-fried squid -- it tasted like they used pre-breaded squid rings -- not good.
The restaurant has clean tanks of live fish and seafood -- I can't wait until crab season starts next month so that we can order the salt and pepper crab or crab with green onions and ginger.
They will also cook things that are not on the menu if you ask -- the woman at the register (I think she's an owner) is extremely friendly and helpful and loves it when folks are open to new dishes -- no one here says "you won't like that."
Also, at lunch they have very nice specials, served with spring roll, soup and rice -- about $6 to $8 dollars. These are generous and a good deal.
All in all, a nice place -- highly recommended.
I really liked the A-Choi too - it's listed on their menu as "Saute Lettuce w/Preserved Bean Curd" (#V6 on the take-out menu). The Owner/Server seemed delighted that I knew the Chinese name for this veggie - it was tender young shoots and was very nicely prepared.
On the "Pork Sparerib & Chicken Feet w/black bean Sauce Rice in a Clay Pot", she was most accommodating in adding a chicken foot as the dish apparently usually only has 2 and there were 3 of us! I really didn't taste black bean sauce (but that could me my old taste buds...) Love that rice crust; unfortunately at lunchtime the broth at the end is not an option. Photos of both dishes below.
Another visit on my part for take-out was not quite as successful. I was in charge of picking up some food for a small group who like Chinese food but perhaps are not familiar with "real" Chinese food so I tried to play it safe. This turned out to be not a good move. I got some "Chicken Chow Mein with thick noodles", "Eggplant with Garlic Sauce", "Saute Scallops & Prawns w/Broccoli" and the A-Choi (couldn't resist). The Chow Mein was virtually tasteless, the Eggplant and the Scallops and Shrimp suffered from an over abundance of gloppy sauce and this time the A-Choi was older, larger stems that didn't have the delicacy of the previous serving. I think this experience was a combination of take-out syndrome and trying to order things of a more American-Chinese persuasion. I think if you stick to dishes that are more authentic, you'll have a very nice meal. One of the biggest pluses is just how friendly the staff is. I look forward to trying more of the menu!