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Mar 24, 2008 08:19 AM

Can I score my three must-eats in SF?

I'm coming into town for a 3-day meeting and there are three things I really, really want to have while I'm there (I live in rural Virginia and as you can probably guess, none of these are available around Boyce).
Xiao long bao
Ramen (with fatty pork)
Dungeness crab
I'll arrive in town at noon and I have the rest of that day to play. I won't have a car, but reasonable commuting-to-eat by subway is OK by me. I just wanna be in bed by 10!
Then it's on to the meeting where I'll be slammed from 8-5 every day (leaving room for three nights of eating, by the way). For these nights I'd love to experience some California cuisine, Japanese (not just sushi), Korean - or any other favs anyone would like to toss around.
I don't know my hotel yet, but the meeting is at the SF Hilton so if I'm not staying there, it will be somewhere in the vicinity.

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  1. On Van Ness & Geary, one of the major intersections in SF, is a must-eat place called TOMMY'S JOYNT. It is the only place in Northern CA that I know of where you can order fresh Buffalo stew which is just awesome. Or if you aren't that adventurous you can have the corned beef. The atmosphere will bring you back to the way SF was right after the Gold Rush. A very friendly place and great for people from out of town to catch the quirky old school type of food SF used to have before Yuppies took over in the 80s. Also the Grubstake( is known far and wide as one of the best hamburgers in all of San Francisco and the bay area. For more fine dining (and big $$$$) you can go to either the Slanted Door ( or the Two Restaurant on Hawthorne lane are very highly rated but high end restaraunts in SF. If you go to Clement St. off of 19th Avenue is just filled with different Chinese and Dim Sum restaraunts, I go to so many different ones and so many are good, just find the ones that have a lot of asians eating in them and you can't go wrong! Have fun eating in SF, it's one of the best cities in the WORLD to get your eat on!

    1. Sounds like a noble plan, and your three musts are certainly doable. The two best options for xiao long bao in San Francisco, unfortunately, would be a long, slow (40 minute) bus ride or expensive taxi ride to outer Balboa Street, Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland's Chinatown might actually be the best option (15 minute BART ride). I'll leave the fatty pork (yum!) ramen to the ramen experts. There will be a lot of options for dungeness, depending on the prep you want.

      Do you know which Hilton it is? I'm guessing it's the Union Suare one but we have at least three.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Xiao Yang

        I agree that BART to Shanghai in Oakland is the best option on public transit. This website can help you plan your trip.

      2. For XLB there's a few places. The current go to place is Shanghai Dumpling King out on Balboa/34th along side Golden Gate Park. It is a trek out there from downtown, so you might make a day of half day out of it. Over a 2-week period I compared SDK to a couple of places in LA and SDK compared very well...better in my mind.

        The other place, that I haven't tried but have heard very good reports, is Kingdom of Dumpling (formerly David's Kitchen) on Taraval/27th Ave. The good thing about this location is you can take the Metro car (light rail train) which is much faster then the bus.

        Shanghai Dumpling King is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. I heard Kingdom of Dumplings is a bit nicer...just don't expect much.

        For ramen, do a search for Melanie Wong's Ramen list. There's several versions floating around.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          I agree that Shanghai Dumpling King is one of the two best options in SF (the other being Shanghai House just up the street) but Missy may not want to use up her one free afretnoon to go out there, especially when there is little else of interest in that neighborhood, which is mostly residential.

          Kingdom of Dumplings would be a bit easier to get to via the L streetcar, but I was disappointed by the XLB produced by its parent company when I tried them. Some good jiaozi and great wontons, though.

        2. Crab Louie at Swan Oyster Depot. Cable car ride on the California line to Polk. Get to sit in an old wire chair at a marble counter and drink white wine in a real slice of San Francisco.

          5 Replies
          1. re: wolfe

            Just remember to ask for the dressing on the side, as they tend to douse it too heavily (at least, for my taste). From Union Square it's insanely expensive to take the cable car, since you have to go from the Powell St. line to the California line and they don't give transfers (I know we gotta milk the tourists, but given the cable car fare, that's really inexcusable).

            Since the original poster likes Asian food, she might prefer walking into Chinatown and getting a Chinese-style Dungeness crab (salt and pepper or ginger and scallion), or going to Sam's or Tadich, which are also both walking distance.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              If the walk to Tadich is easy then, since it is on California the walk to the cable car is easy. That is, assuming Hilton on Ofarrell, if she walks to Union Sq. to Grant and does not walk up the big hill. Bonus if she gets tired stop in Chinatown. Perhaps Great Eastern for the crab.
              "Chinatown denizen once told me that there were only 2 restaurants worth eating at if you're stuck in Chinatown and want the genuine article: R&G Lounge, and Great Eastern. I've tried both since, and they are really good."
              klyeoh Mar 20, 2008 12:50AM Chowhound

              1. re: wolfe

                I suppose you could take the circuitous route around the shoulder of Nob Hill to California St., but that's not what most people will think of when they see "take the cable car" from Union Square to Polk St. Hiking up Nob Hill on Powell St. is not recommended. I've done it. Once. When I was young and stupid.

                BTW, Swan is not open for dinner (the hours are something along the lines of 10:30 to 5).

                I had the salt and pepper crab at R&G just last Thursday and it was excellent, but Great Eastern's is also good. For Western-style preps, Sam's Grill is the easiest walk from Union Square, but I've never had a crab dish there.

                Sam's Grill & Sea Food Restaurant
                374 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104

                Tadich Grill
                240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                R & G Lounge
                631 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                Great Eastern Restaurant
                649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                Swan Oyster Depot
                1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                Missy would be well advised to get a 3-day muni passport for $18 and she can ride any muni vehicle that she wans as much as she wants over a 3-day period. She's on business, and her cable car fares are probably expensable, but it's worth it for the convenience. I may be a transit buff, but the first thing I would do after checking in would be to walk over to Powell and Market and buy one at the Visitor Information Center.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  Oh, I agree totally! And riding the cable cars is fun and a good way to get to some chowish destinations. For example, Missy just asked about Cal/New American places, and the Hyde St. cable car will take her to places like 1550 Hyde and Luella.

            2. Given that you want Korean food, a trip to Oakland is in order. This would allow you to hit Shanghai for your XLB (getting off BART at the Oakland City Center Stop). You could then hop a bus down Telegraph to the heart of Oakland's K-Town. My current recommendation is Sura, but you would also be happy with Sahn Maru or Ohgane.

              3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

              Shanghai Restaurant
              930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

              4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Sahn Maru Korean BBQ
              4315 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              10 Replies
              1. re: lexdevil

                The hotel is Hilton San Francisco
                333 O’Farrell Street
                I think that is near Union Square.
                Thanks for all the great advice-I do have one more question-for modern Californian (what we out East call New American, I guess)-any recs?

                1. re: Missy

                  New American in SF "usually" means updated classics or not so classics. California cuisine "usually" means ingredient/produce-centric, lighter fare with a possible fusion element. Take that description with a more then a grain of salt but it's a pretty broad catch-all.

                  Are you looking for well-prepared, up-dated classics or something more adventurous?

                  1. re: Missy

                    I'd go with Bar Tartine (easy walk from the 16th Street BART station) or Canteen (easy walk from your hotel).

                    1. re: daveena

                      Now I jsut want tos ay that I have eaten the transcendental pork ramen of Daikokuya in LA-Is there anything in SF that will approach that?

                      1. re: Missy

                        I'm not a ramen expert - look for posts by rameniac and Melanie Wong - but I think general consensus is that the best ramen is in the South Bay, which is not easily accessible by public transportation.

                        Ramen in SF (with links to other more comprehensive threads):

                        1. re: daveena

                          Too bad you won't have a car. The fatty pork at Kahoo in Saratoga come closest to the best I've had in Tokyo, Yokohama & Kumamoto. I've been to most of the ramen joints in SF but none
                          have come close. But then I have to admit that I haven't had ramen in SF for about a year so i don't know about the newer places.

                          1. re: danielmaung

                            Well... hmmmm... is it easier to get to any of these hallowed ramen spots from the airport? I land at noon and have the rest of the day free.....Maybe I could just go straight from AP? Or am I complicating things WAAAY too much for a bowl of soup? Is this the definition of obsession????????????

                            1. re: Missy

                              Santa is less than half a mile walk from the Caltrain station (hayward park) in San Mateo but you might be able to find something close to that in one of the newer Ramen joints in SF.

                    2. re: Missy

                      Canteen would fit New American or California Cuisine. California Cuisine is pretty much the same as new American but relies on locally sourced food, usualy organic and sustainably grown. Two other good places for this are 1550 Hyde which the cable car stops in front of. You can take the cable car from Union Square. There is also Zuni. You can walk down to Market Street and catch the street car there easily.

                      In the St Francis Hotel near the Hilton is Michael Minna which gets mixed reviews on this board. I like it. Or if you have money to burn, there is The Dining Room at the Ritz Carleton. Ron Siegel's cooking is amazing and it would be something to remember ... even would be worth it if you paid for it out of pocket. The cable car from Union Square will take you near the Ritz at the top of Nob Hill.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Michael Mina won't have made it, IMHO, until he consistently gets his name spelled correctly.