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"Authentic" Kung Pao in SF?

Fat Polak Jun 1, 2008 04:05 PM

Where can I find "authentic" Sichuan-style Kung Pao chicken in San
Francisco? By "authentic" I mean the dish is basically meat, peanuts,
dried chilis, and sauce -- no "filler" vegetables as in the American
version. I am preferably looking for a place in the Tendernob or
easily accessible from there by transit (e.g. anywhere on Geary or
Clement).

The only lead I've found on this board is a suggestion that Andy's on
9th Ave between Irving and Judah makes a spicy Kung Pao without
green peppers (don't know about the other veggies). Spices II on
Clement is also touted as a good Sichuan-style (Taiwanese) option;
their online menu has Kung Pao scallop and squid but no chicken.

Today I tried the old Sam Lok's in Chinatown, now called Z & Y
Restaurant. They claim to specialize in Sichuan and Yunnan; however
the Kung Pao chicken was bland and I had to pick out a mountain of
onion, green pepper, carrots, etc. I asked for some hot mustard to
perk the dish up a bit and was given a saucer of American yellow
French's. I could try asking for the dish without vegetables, but it
might be better at a place where they don't have to be told how to
make it.

Thanks in advance.

  1. Maple Jun 2, 2008 11:20 PM

    Dragon 2000 in Walnut Creek has the best Kung Pao Shrimp. You have to specify that you want the Chinese version, not the American version, even if you are ordering in Chinese. The American version has random veggies, and the Chinese version has smoky dry chilis, fabulously crunchy stir-fried shrimp, and peanuts. We have not been able to go to Dragon without ordering this dish!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maple
      Melanie Wong Mar 12, 2009 03:01 AM

      Link:

      -----
      Dragon 2000
      1651 Botelho Dr Ste 120, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

    2. Xiao Yang Jun 2, 2008 09:57 PM

      You may be confusing Kung Pao (gong bao) chicken, which isn't necessarily chili laden, with lazi ji ding (spicy chicken pieces) which is. Anyway, hot mustard is more of a Cantonese restaurant thing than a Sichuan thing, and it's a bit puzzling why you would want to use it to crank up the heat when there most likely was a pot of chili paste on your table which would have done the job.

      Some pictures of "kung pao" chicken in China:

      http://tinyurl.com/46hosl

      And one of "la zi ji ding":

      http://tinyurl.com/3nrros

      2 Replies
      1. re: Xiao Yang
        Fat Polak Jun 4, 2008 08:33 PM

        Here are a couple "Kung Pao" pix to show what I am going for; a bit of scallion is OK but no other veggies.

        http://www.danmex.org/html-en/pic-detail.php?pic_id=6
        http://chinesefood.about.com/od/foodf...

        The "la zI" looks tasty as well; thanks for the tip.

        BTW, Z&Y did have a pot of chili sauce on the table, but it just tasted like oil and smoke, so I gave up after a couple scoops (I am not a heat masochist, it really was not spicy).

        1. re: Fat Polak
          grayelf Jun 5, 2008 09:02 AM

          Thanks for the link. I like the look of the recipe in it.

      2. b
        bigwheel042 Jun 2, 2008 07:28 PM

        I was not particularly fond of the version I had at Spices II a few weeks back. It may well have been veggie-free, but I remember the chicken as being subpar (very fatty or full of gristle).

        I would try Panda Country Kitchen first.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bigwheel042
          The Chowhound Team Jun 2, 2008 08:06 PM

          Some interesting general discussion on the origins of the dish has been moved to the General Topics board so hounds from all over can share in the information. You can find it here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/52512...

        2. ccbweb Jun 2, 2008 12:50 PM

          Andy's version is quite good, I highly recommend it. No vegetables other than the fresh chilies.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ccbweb
            j
            jefeG Aug 22, 2008 08:47 AM

            I totally agree. I used to live across the street from Andy's, and their Kung Pao was amazing. None of those "fillers", just chicken, peanuts, green onions and fresh chilies.

            Of all places, I think Andy's has the best.

          2. w
            walker Jun 2, 2008 12:12 AM

            I like the version at Eric's on the corner of 27th St. and Church. You can take the J Church streetcar there. Their potstickers are great. Lunch specials Mon-Sat cost bet. 6-6.50 and there's a lot to choose from, over rice, soup and tea included. If you like stuff spicier, just tell them when you order.

            5 Replies
            1. re: walker
              Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2008 08:42 AM

              Eric's food is not remotely traditional.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                w
                walker Jun 2, 2008 11:44 AM

                I think something can taste great even if it's not "traditional." Eric's was almost completely full last night at 6pm - Sunday - a lot of people like this place and my opinion was that it's worth trying.

                1. re: walker
                  Ruth Lafler Jun 2, 2008 12:40 PM

                  I think the point was that the version at Eric's -- whether tasty or not -- is probably not the "authentic" style the original poster specified he is looking for. Since you've had it, perhaps you'd could describe it for the OP.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    k
                    katya Jun 2, 2008 04:46 PM

                    Actually I love Eric's, but I feel that their kung pao is one of their weakest dishes.

                    (My faves there are: shanghai chicken and sesame beef.)

                  2. re: walker
                    Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2008 05:59 PM

                    In any case, Eric's kung pao dishes have vegetables in them.

              2. c
                cornflower55 Jun 1, 2008 05:06 PM

                I would be interested in knowing whether you think the Kung Pao at Andy's is authentic or not. I don't know what authentic Kung Pao is like, but I found it almost inedible. It was about 15% garlic cloves. I didn't see any green peppers but I found the taste off-putting. They do describe it as authentic however.

                1. Robert Lauriston Jun 1, 2008 04:32 PM

                  The two other Sichuan restaurants I know of in SF are Spices and Zone 88.

                  1. Dave MP Jun 1, 2008 04:30 PM

                    I haven't had it there, but Panda Country Kitchen might have a good version. It's the first thing on the menu in the chicken section, and they also specialize in Sichuan food. Probably they would make it according to your specifications if you check with them first.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dave MP
                      c
                      Calvinist Jun 27, 2008 03:40 PM

                      Following up on this link, I had the Kung Pao chicken at Panda Country Kitchen, and it may be the most "authentic" I've had in a while. While it was a bit sweeter, and not super spicy, it was very good. I should say my spice tolerance it quite high, so all I'm saying is that it was not super spicy to me.

                      I quite liked Panda Country Kitchen. They had a small plate of cold cucumbers in spicy sauce that perfectly hit the spot.

                      Anyone have suggestions of other dishes to order there? I'm sure there are some gems on the menu I'm going to miss if I order at random.

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