HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Can I be a foodie, and still like Sweet and Sour Pork?

Can someone that like fine wine, wonderful cheeses, and delicate pastries actually like s/s pork? I do.

Any recent ideas of where near Mountain View/Sunnyvale?

Just went to Yulong and nobody liked the s/s, the Kung Pao, or the Zha Jiang Mein.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You should try the Korean version, Tang Su Yook. A pretty good rendition can be found at Tong Soon Garden in Santa Clara.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Humbucker

      Hmm. Sounds good, has some pretty good reviews. I'll try it this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation.

    2. Why not? isn't a well executed one just delightful? I love General Tso's Chicken, it can be disgustingly excellent. A chowhound is different from a foodie, because a CH does not have a pre-concieved hierarcy of what has value, just tastes and eats.. judges on that. Don't ever let peps tell you what is valid or not valid to enjoy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jason carey

        Well said, jason! One of the best descriptions of "chowhound" vs. "foodie" I've read.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          hey, I kind of poorly quoted something jim leff said years ago when the site first began. I agree with him..

      2. My answer is yes, there is sweet and sour pork and then there is sweet and sour pork. This dish really is a Chinese dish when done correctly. But most Chinese places serve it with glow in the dark colors and so much sauce it is drowning in it.

        But properly made and serve it is a wonderful classic dish. There should be just enough sauce to lightly coat the meat, vegetables and fruit ( if there is fruit) and when finish the plate should be lightly coated by sauce.

        11 Replies
        1. re: yimster

          I never thought I liked sweet and sour until I had an excellent rendition in Hong Kong, which matches yimster's description.

          I still avoid the glow-in-the dark, heavily-sauced renditions.

          1. re: yimster

            Yimster, would you be so kind to recommend a restaurant where I could find sweet and sour pork as you described in San Francisco?

            1. re: foodseek

              The Zhejiang sweet and sour spare ribs at Lucky River made with special vinegar from eastern China are absolutely delectable. here's a link to the chowdown report, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/402713
              it might only be on the family menu, but ask to see if you can get it ala carte.

              Lucky River
              700 Monterey Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94127

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I love their SSP..that is the place when you need a fix.

                1. re: Lori SF

                  Lucky River is a hidden gem, a diamond in the rough, if you will. Deserves more air time here.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Thanks for the suggestion-love bbq spareribs and sweet and sour pork so this sounds ideal. Waiting for Yimster's sweet and sour pork with vegs. and light sauce recommendations. Don't know if it is Americanized or not, but I still love those dishes. Thanks again.

                    1. re: foodseek

                      Sweet and Sour Pork is not something I normally order. But any higher end Cantonese place should do it with little sauce.

                      Asian Pearl in Millbare
                      Joy Luck in San Mateo
                      Chef Wai in San Mateo

                      All of the above do not normally flood there dishes with a lot of sauce.

                      1. re: foodseek

                        They're actually not spareribs but thin pork chops, despite the name.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong


                        how big are the portions at lucky river? particularly the zhejiang sweet sour spare ribs? are they sort of a general northern chinese restaurant? thanks!

                        1. re: inmandarin

                          Lucky River's portions are pretty big considering how low the prices are. It's a frayed around the edges neighborhood place, but the cooking is much better than the average take-out joint if you know what to order. It's Hong Kong/Cantonese style. Take a look at the report I linked above in my Nov 3 posting for the set dinner menu we tried. Some of the dishes like the zhejiang spare ribs were real standouts and worth a trip across town for me. Lucky you to live much closer!

                  2. re: foodseek

                    I will need some time to think of one. The last one I had were not in San Francisco. So I will have to some checking.

                2. You like what you like.

                  If you can explain why, you're OK in my book. I could care less if you're a foodie, gourmet or chowhound. They have no monopoly on good taste.

                  1. Hey if Thomas Keller likes In 'n Out and another famous chef (woman...forgot her name) likes Jack in the Box tacos...why not? Everyone has their weird junk food fixes. That said, I just wouldn't ever try and explain to anyone.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ML8000

                      Thank you for this comment! Even the best chefs don't eat gourmet every waking minute, nor should they. I'm not a uberchef, just a humble cook, but I love radioactive velveeta drenched nachos and general tso's glamorized chix nuggets. I know they're not prepared to be authentic/best of quality, and I don't care. It's all about the taste and always "pinkies down." If I'm going to a Superbowl party, I want lil smokies in homemade barbeque sauce. I'll save the gourmet meal for a dinner party.

                    2. I have friends who are Chinese who swear that cooking competitions in Hong Kong amongst the top dollar restos always include sweet & sour pork as one of the dishes to be judged. I never believed them until I had a version in HK earlier this year that was phenomenal.

                      1. Sweat and sour is a legitimate authentic Chinese dish (so is General Tso's chicken). So why not. There are places which do a very good S&S pork.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PeterL

                          Sweet and Sour Pork is one of my childhood staples - a rough analogy is SSP is like gumbo - every place makes it, and they all make it different.
                          And to add to ML8000 - I believe Julia Child recommended the rotisserie chicken at Costco. What came first the foodie or the Chowhound? I think it was the hound!

                        2. It seems that at least in Hong Kong there are several schools of thought on what's a good base (receipe) for sweet n' sour pork (goo lo yuk).

                          The ultra old school base prep consists of a marinade/sauce that is basically sugar, vinegar, salt, and aged soy sauce.

                          Now the enhancement portion:

                          At some modern point in time, "fusion" was introduced to the mix via ketchup and Worcester(shire) sauce/ L & P or I suppose the A1 for S&SP. I suppose you can call this the shortcut sauce that I'm willing to bet everyone else is using these days, especially most of Chinatown and any quick fast cheap restaurants.

                          Some traditionalist (chefs) refuse to rely entirely on ketchup and A1/W and stick with an additional prep for a sauce using the Chinese fruit equivalent of cranberry (Haw?) and also using its dried counterpart, including the snack you can easily find in Chinese supermarkets known as Haw Flakes, basically throwing everything together in the wok, melting and stir frying it, to create that sweet and sour texture that's more Chinese in flavor and of course old school. I'm willing to bet this is going to be like pulling hen's teeth to find a receipe using this in the Bay Area, though hopefully some of the higher end places in the Peninsula Yimster mentioned, do that. I'd think the use of ketchup would be inevitable in most places these days, but hopefully not an entire reliance.

                          Best way is just to flat out ask how they make the sweet/sour portion of the sauce. I'm not huge on this dish, but if it were done right the old school way with the haw mix I'd gobble down. Sadly this will require the honesty of the waiter and chef and someone asking about that part of the receipe/sauce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: K K

                            A few restuarant uses Haw flakes for Peking (jing du) pork chop. Which are fried pork chop pieces topped with sweet and sour sauce made from Haw and black vinegar.

                            Overseas (China or Taiwan) a sweet and sour whole fish is always a staple at a banquet. Also, chefs are notorious for eating junk food after shifts.

                            My weird habit is soy sauce rice mixed with a little rendered pork fat. I'll take that over fois gras any day.

                          2. I have loved sweet & sour since my dad drove us across the old Dunbarton Bridge to the original Ming's Palo Alto almost 40 years ago. Then I married a Chinese woman whose family would often order gum doe pie quat(spelled phonetically)--basically the same thing, but whole pork chops, and without the peppers, pineapple, and onions that we all know you just push aside to get to the good stuff anyway.

                            1. Many Hong Kong style restaurants make a very good sweet and sour fish fillet dish so a similarly prepared sweet and sour pork (or chicken) would be equally good. Cafe Yulong is not Hong Kong/Cantonese style, so I wouldn't expect sweet and sour to be good over there.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                But Cafe Yulong is Shandong/Korean-Chinese style and tang soo yuk is one of the staple dishes of the genre. I don't know if Yulong makes it though.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Cafe Yulong is great for dumplings, but the rest of the menu doesn't reach the same standard.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    Are the dumplings good again? I was much disappointed by my last visit to Cafe Yulong. But in any case, Chinese restaurants that are not HK/Cantonese do make sweet and sour dishes in their own regional style.