Flushing Chinese vs San Francisco area
I've frequented a number of Flushing places (Spicy & Tasty, Little Pepper, Lamb Noodle Soup, Chengdu Heaven, the old Sichuan place in the mall that's closed with the great Dan Dan noodles, Jade Asian for dim sum...)
I'll be in the San Francisco area for about 4 days--Any places I must hit that are as good as/better than the places I know and love?
Sounds like you are in Sichuan mode. Equivalents would most likely be Spices I & Spices II both in the Clement St. area. Also some not-so-spicy lamb soups and other lamby dishes at Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant, out in the fog belt on Vicente St.
Good dim sum abounds, do a little searching for threads and you'll find endless discussions and debates.
We also kick NYC's butt in Shagnhainese small eats, check out the xiaolong bao at Shanghai House or Shanghai Dumpling King.
re: Xiao Yang
Well, it won't blow New Yorkers away because they'll complain that it's not like the soup dumplings they are used to at Joe Shanghai. Flushing is more like Monterey Park, with lots of Taiwanese immigrants. OP may want to check out the Millbrae area for some killer Cantonese cuisine. Although I am afraid for someone who loves Sichuan Chinese, you wouldn't take to Cantonese too well.
Sad, but true. I even recall a poster complaining he/she couldn't get soup dumplings "just like Joe's Shanghai's" out here. I'm hoping, though, that mostly hanging out Taiwanese/Sichuan places has left the OP's tastes uncorrupted by Joe's poor excuse for xiaolong bao. (The Taiwanese do tend to emulate the Shanghai model for XLB, at least).
I don't think Cantonese cuisine is a stranger to anyone in the US who eats Chinese food, though GOOD Cantonese might be. Anyway, the OP has expressed a taste for dim sum, for starters.
Second on Old Mandarin. Their specialty is Peking hot pot (aka Mongolian fire pot), which is often the dish on every table.
Jai Yun. Shanghai presented like a western tasting menu.
Shanghai in Oakland. Short BART ride.
Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae for dim sum. Long but easy BART ride.
Maybe garlic roasted crab at PPQ.
You can skip Sichuan, you've got just as good or better in NY, but if you're in Chinatown and craving it, Z&Y Garden's good.
Spices! is a Taiwanese twist on Sichuan (with other stuff). Could be interesting but it's best to have advice on which dishes to order (lots of reports in the archive).
Will you have a car? Much of the killer regional Chinese food is in strip malls in the suburbs.
We have good Burmese and Cambodian food here.
Are you interested in exploring the wider Bay Area? If so, you'll find lots of the area's better Chinese offerings in more suburban locations.
BERKELEY/OAKLAND--For Sichuan I would do China Village in Albany. Close by in Richmond you will find the Pacific East Mall, an Asian shopping center anchored by a large Asian supermarket. At Pacific East I favor Chow Jew style noodles at VH Noodle, the roast pork at Macau Cafe, and much of the Menu at Daimo (Cantonese, though I like their Hakka style braised pork belly w/ fermented greens). In Oakland Chinatown Shan Dong has excellent knife cut noodles and huge, tasty pork and veg buns. Also in Oakland, Shanghai has lovely, delicate XLB and lots of super cheap food.
HEADING SOUTH--New China in Union City is really cheap and very tasty. The eggs w/ shrimp and yellow chives are fantastic. I have also enjoyed Darda (Islamic Chinese) in Milpitas quite a bit, though I've read of a recent decline. There's lots more further south, but I'll leave that to those who eat down there regularly. For Dim Sum, I like Hong Kong Flower Lounge near the airport, though Koi Palace in Daily City has a better reputation.
THE CITY PROPER--If you must dine in Chinatown, Great Eastern is very good, the BBQ items in particular. If you go there, be sure to make a pit stop at Golden Gate Bakery (really close by) for their egg custard tarts, still hot from the oven. They are pricey compared to most, but really lovely compared to most as well. Order more than you think you can eat or you will regret your decision. If you are looking for unusual, high end experiences in San Francisco, consider Jai Yun for a Shanghainese tasting menu or Yank Sing for posh and sometimes unusual dim sum.
Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607
1743 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587
680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Hong Kong Flower Lounge
51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030
Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Golden Gate Bakery
1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Great Eastern Restaurant
649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105
Shan Dong Mandarin Restaurant
328 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607
Darda Seafood Restaurant
296 Barber Ct, Milpitas, CA 95035
3288 Pierce St # M126, Richmond, CA
Numerous dim sum places in the Bay Area are better than or as good as Jade Asian and Ocean Jewels (not to imply anything negative about these two). These would include Koi Palace in Daly City and Asian Pearl, Hong Kong Flower Lounge and Zen Peninsula in Millbrae. The population demographics in Flushing are different than the Bay Area, with Flushing having more Taiwanese and mainlanders (Western, NW, NE China). As such you'd be less likely to be looking for this type of food in the Bay Area.
chandavkl is right.
one thing you should understand about flushing chinese and SF chinese is that the two have completely different types of chinese. within recent years, flushing chinese has somewhat become a hub for mainland chinese settlers, which explains the provincial-specific types of dishes and restaurants you've listed like little pepper (sichuan), lamb noodle (henan), chengdu heaven (sichuan), J&L mall (tien jian, fuzhou, shandong, lanzhou, etc), etc. there are still a good number of taiwanese from the influx during the 90s, but now it's mostly mainland/northern chinese. as for SF chinese, it's been the ultimate destination for cantonese chinese cuisine for years. as for what most people have listed on here... in terms of northern chinese, sichuan, or even burmese...they're pretty good. but just not as great as what's offered in flushing. burma superstar is worth a shot, since they prepare everything with local california ingredients. but don't expect it to blow away burmese cafe in jackson heights, which in my opinion do much better renditions of tea leaf salads, noodle/nut soups, and curries than burma superstar. if you ask me, just stick with cantonese chinese (which flushing/nyc lacks tremendously).
by the way, i heard about what had happened to J&L mall. rest in peace...
It's quite a bit off the beat of the SF tourist path, but I really like Zone 88 on San Bruno Ave. in SF. They have a wonderful hot pot menu with a number of different broths, meats and vegetables offered, as well as a Sichuan menu with lots of delicious spicy dishes like dry-fried pig intestines and chong qing chicken wings.
Here's a link to a discussion of a set dinner that my husband and I shared with some other Chowhounds: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396330
And here's a link to a discussion of a Chowhound hot pot meal: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355697
Zone 88 Inc
2428 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134