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Steamed chicken with ginger dipping sauce?

When I lived in the Sunset District of San Francisco, there was this great Chinese restaurant that sold steamed chicken (half/whole) and the ubiquitous roast duck/roast pork....the chicken flew out the door (in a manner of speaking) and was served, if you ate it there, on the bone, cut into chunks with the skin on, with a side dish of grated ginger dipping sauce with oil, maybe salt and pepper? and a bowl of rice.

I am craving, CRAVING this dish but LA is not San Francisco....however, this may be a Chinese staple that I can go somewhere to pick up?

The chicken was always SO succulent, so fresh-tasting, not like these crazy hormone-injected monster chicken breasts you find in the grocery store....can someone help me? I live in Larchmont, and would happily go to Chinatown or if there is somewhere closer (K-town, Hollywood) where I can get my fix o' steamed chicken with that amazing dipping sauce.....thank u people! :)

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  1. Sam Woo BBQ Alhambra or Monterey Park....its as good if not better than San Franciso Clement Street district. Half-whole- or plate.

    1. this sounds similar to hainanese chicken and rice - i hear that alhambra is the place to go for it. here's a link to a thread i had bookmarked - reviews and addresses of places with the best! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363005

      1 Reply
      1. re: esquimeaux

        thank you - yeah, bummer, i was hoping not to drive all that way...it'll have to be a weekend trip. but if someone knows of somewhere closer, that would be most excellent.

      2. What you are probably looking for might actually be "Hainan chicken rice".

        Hainan chicken is usually prepared by boiling the chicken over and over in its own broth until its fall off the bone tender and served with a ginger-soy dipping sauce of one variety or another. It's served chopped up (with skin on), accompanied by dipping sauces and a mound of rice.

        Good places to try Hainan chicken rice are Savoy and Dong Nguyen.

        Even if Hainan chicken rice is not what you are looking for, give it try. Based on your description you'll probably enjoy it.

        Savoy Kitchen
        138 E. Valley Blvd.
        Alhambra, CA 91801
        (626) 308-9535

        Dong Nguyen
        1433 E. Valley Blvd.
        Alhambra, CA 91801
        (626) 300-8618

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          thank you - that sounds delicious! However, the dipping sauce I like definitely didn't have soy sauce. It was just grated ginger in some oil with salt & pepper. Simple...yet so addicting! ;P

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I second Dong Nguyen for Hainan chicken

          2. I just found this blog in the SF Chowhound boards......"2) Salt Water Chicken (Yeem-Shui Cantonese) (Yen-Swei Mandarin) @ Porridge King @ the Ranch 99 Mall in Daly City. I adore this. This is my favorite chicken in the entire Bay Area. Poached ever so delicately, served at room temperature with a slightly gelatinous texture, and with that ginger/scallion sauce."

            So now I know it's Cantonese-style chicken! We are getting closer, folks.

            And now I remember there were scallions in that amazing dipping sauce.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: lafoodie7

              At Sam Woo BBQ its "salted chicken" on the menu. The sauce on the side is ginger & garlic and probably some green onion.

              There's a Sam Woo BBQ in LA Chinatown on Broadway-but I won't vouch for it because I've never had it there. Only at Sam Woo BBQ in Alhambra and Monterey Park.

              There is a fairly new place in LA Chinatown called Yum Cha Cafe (most dim sum is 99 cents/order) and they have it as like a lunch plate for like $3.99....rice, chicken and sauce for one. There's a sign at their location in San Gabriel advertising they use Vikon chickens....natural, no anti-biotics etc., but I wouldn't stake my life on it.

              BTW: The Peking duck (its roast duck-but they call it "Peking") at Sam Woo BBQ Monterey Park is flying off the racks there too...practically every table orders it and many take it out too.

            2. 101 Noodle Express has a cold chicken dish like the one you describe. Plus, their beef roll is wonderful.

              101 Noodle Express
              1408 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801

              1. If you're in Larchmont, you might want to try the BBQ Unlimited on Melrose. A dish very simular is the Thai steamed chicken with ginger sauce. They have it at Sanamluang Cafe in Hollywood. Basically the same thing, but in a way better: The rice is cooked in chicken fat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Galen

                  BBQ Unlimited #2 (on Melrose near the 101) definitely has it. It is called Hainan chicken rice, as other posters have said. If you have trouble, print out the Chinese for them -- "海南雞飯" ("hai nan ji fan" in Mandarin, "hoi nam gai faan" in Cantonese)

                  To the OP -- I know exactly what the sauce is you're talking about. It's oil with ginger and green onions in it. In Chinese it's called "蔥油" -- "cong yoh" in Mandarin and "tseung jaau" in Cantonese [remember that c = ts].

                  It's all called "Hainan chicken rice" but the Cantonese version is different (and, I think, better -- not nearly as oily) than the Singaporean version, despite its being known as a Singaporean dish.

                2. Phoenix Restaurant on Valley is famous for their boiled chicken served the way you described. But oftentimes the chicken they use is too big to be as good as it can be. Made In Kitchen also on Valley used to be my favorite for this chicken but their chef left for Las Vegas sometime last year and their food has become very mediocre. Nowadays when I have hankering for such a chicken I head for Tasty Garden which is right across Made in Kitchen. Yes, you are correct in saying steamed (actually boiled) chicken is a dish commonly found in most authentic Chinese restaurants. But really well done ones, such as the ones Made In Kitchen used to serve and which Tasty Garden dishes out, are a rarity. The chicken is not too big and not too small, the skin has a nice yellow sheen, the chicken is cooked to the point of just done so that if the leg bone is cracked there is still a red tinge but not bloody, the meat itself is sweet as only fresh never frozen chicken can be... Bon Appetit :-)

                  1. I too have major CRAVINGS for this type of chicken as well as soy sauce chicken. I have found steamed white chicken that is close enough to my mother's version and ones I can buy in Toronto bbq shops at Little Hong Kong Cafe on Sawtelle in West LA.

                    I have tried Hainan chicken rice as it sounded so close to the Chinese version but I was incredibly disappointed. There is nothing worse when trying to satisfy a craving to have something that is not even close to what you want.

                    I have given up trying to find Chinese food prepared in the same way I have grew up with - the search can never be satisfied. Hopefully you will find a good enough substitute...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TOgirl

                      I'm curious. What did you find so "incredibly dissapoint[ing]" about Hainan chicken? And where did you have it at?

                    2. I really liked the Hainan Chicken at Thai Boom in Culver City....

                      I also really loved the one from Dong Nguyen


                      1. The basic Chinese dish is not called "Hainan Chicken" when you order it at any traditional Hong Kong / Cantonese restaurant but rather:

                        Tsong Yoh Ji (蔥油雞) in Mandarin.

                        The problem comes in the variety of "beautified / poetic names" that this dish is called on all the various HK / Cantonese menus throughout So Cal. It varies from the basic "Tsong Yoh Ji" to "Yoh Ling Ji" to other variations. The basic English name is "Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Green Onions." I'd recommend it at:

                        * Sea Harbour (Rosemead, CA) known as "Bah Wahng Ji" ("Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Green Onions")

                        * Ocean Star (Monterey Park, CA) known as "Tsong Yoh Ji" ("Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Green Onions")

                        You can also find it for cheap at Sam Woo BBQ in San Gabriel, CA and other locations as "Yen Shwei Ji" ("Salted Chicken") and ask them for the Ginger and Green Onion Sauce to dip it with.

                        Suffice to say you can ask for the basic name in Chinese and most servers will understand and point you to their "poetic name" on the menu instead.

                        Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant
                        145 N Atlantic Blvd Ste 201, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                        Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                        3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                        Sam Woo Barbecue Restaurant
                        140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: exilekiss

                          That's also a very standard part of the repetorie at super cheap Shau May, at least in Rowland Heights. They made it with chicken legs, and have the ginger-scallion sauce poured over it.

                          Hainan chicken rice that I had at the cafes here - the difference seems to be that the rice is cooked with the ginger and oil mixture. It doesn't taste like plain rice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainanes...

                          Salt baked chicken is quite different in taste than the 蔥油雞 (literally - scallion oil chicken) or the equivalent 'white cut chicken': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_cu...

                          Anyway, the good salt baked chicken I had was back in Hong Kong in a restaurant that specialized in the dish. So I suspect the version in SF is probably the more common (but no less tasty) white cut chicken.

                        2. wow, thank you so much everyone! I am still craving it, not having had time to go get some this weekend. I will have to memorize the name for it, and a trip to Rosemead may be in order...

                          Any other - and closer - suggestions are appreciated, but all the posts have been very informative and I really appreciate them all! :)

                          1. We've split instructions for making your own ginger-scallion sauce into a new thread on our Home Cooking board. You can find that thread here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/51219...