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Mar 25, 2008 01:57 PM

in san mateo county, where to find good tomato beef chow mein????


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  1. This is very simple dish to do, assuming it's Cantonese style you're after. And you can probably request crispy noodles too on top of it. It might be a "custom order" for the fried noodles, since tomato beef is usually paired with rice. But any self respecting Cantonese establishment should not refuse a custom order like that, given they have the ingredients.

    Without having to resort to paying low to mid double digit for marginal increase in quality at dim sum seafood restaurants I'd say try getting this and perhaps compare with:

    Cafe Salina in Millbrae
    Fat Wong's in San Bruno
    Tai Wu Won Ton Noodle in Foster City next to Ranch 99
    Blue Sky Cafe in Belmont

    11 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Tomato beef chow mein was a Chinatown standard in the 60's. I use to get it at the Jackson Cafe and at Sun Tai Sam Yuen, I blush to admit. I saw a version being served at Tai Chi restaurant on Polk Street in the past few years that looked very similar.

      1. re: K K

        KK, what do you consider good TB chow mein? I'm asking because it can vary from ketchup to custom as you mention. My experience with asking for a custom order often doesn't go so well, as in, "you can't make it that way...that's weird."

        In my case, decent tomatoes (in season), sliced onions, black beans and bell ketchup, no sweet additives. When I lived in the Richmond there were two places that would make it that way on order that had the skill and the fried mein down...both are closed. The best was Chan's Chinese Kitchen on Clement (must have been 12-15 years since they closed).

        It's gotten to the point that I don't even bother asking or looking. Having to explain and the disappointment is too much of a drag.

        1. re: ML8000

          My quality test bars to determine whether any other dishes are worth trying/recommending are more along the lines of whether the noodle rice congee fun shop does a decent dried fried beef chow fun, or perhaps scambled egg & shrimp chow fun. In terms of pan fried noodles, my golden bar is thin pork strips with bean sprouts mushrooms (yuk see dzeen meen). You'd be surprised at how simple this is yet there are el cheapo places that charge standard pricing yet give you no mushrooms.

          Now that you mentioned ketchup, there were random places I've been to (forgot where) that may have used that as an ingredient and thus made it a very similar texture to a (pseudo) sweet and sour pork...

          Come to think of it I may have seen some random northern Chinese restaurants serve this dish. Not sure if I would try that there though.

          1. re: ML8000

            black beans in tomato beef chow mein?

            1. re: kc72

              Sounds like the ultimate fusion dish. I wonder if I could substute refried.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                think he/she possibly meant the Chinese style black beans

                1. re: kc72

                  Yes, black beans in TB CM. See, I've gotten that response in "what?..or that's weird". I guess it sounds weird to some, however unless you've had it that way, it's sort of hard to imagine.

                  Done right it's quite good. The tomatoes add sweetness, the black bean adds a pungent aspect, garlic, bell peper and onions sort of balance it out. The better the tomatoes, the better the dish. Quality beefeater tomatoes really make it.

                  Any way, it's the way my Grandmother cooked it at her restaurant in Chicago (and thus how my Mom made it). Despite the family connection I think it's better then the usual saucey TB CM you see around since it relies more on the ingredients not being distilled into a ketchup like thing.

                  BTW, I'm a guy.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    I've never seen black beans in a chow mein. You make it sound like "chow mein" meets "zha jiang mian". On the other hand, I don't recall TBCM from the 60's with curry in it either, but at least a couple of other old timers on this board do.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      Well this is from the 40's and 50s...and only in TB chow mein. Formented black beans are too strong for most things but works well w/ beef and tomatoes, when used sparingly. Think of it being used like ginger or an aromatic...cleaned and crushed, a little bit goes a long way. More black beans doesn't make it better.

                    2. re: ML8000

                      thanks for the explanation. have had plenty of TBCM over lifetime, but have never seen black beans in it.

                      now that my niece and nephew occasionally eat it, I will be on the lookout for different/new versions of it.

            2. re: K K

              Let me add a couple of places where I have had tomato beef chow mein.

              Mr Fong's in Foster City
              Tai Wu (mini Mr Fong) also in Foster City

              My personal taste like a little curry added to the chow mein the mixture of the taste is something I like. Custom order should not be a problem for Mr Fong or Blue Sky

              Some places will charge a little more for "both face yellow" or crispy noodles.

            3. When I have requested it in the past I would ask that they add a little curry powder. The end product would have just too much curry in it. It never tasted like the regular TBCM I so used to. It was more like curry beef chow mein.