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Just Won Ton, San Francisco

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The worst meal I've had in recent history was lunch at Just Won Ton two months ago. Though I've lived in SF for ages, this was my first time at this long time fixture on Vincente. Maybe it was good at one time but no longer.

Here's the shot of my bowl of beef brisket (ngo nam) and wontons with noodles, $6.05. The plump dumplings were devoid of flavor. Compressed and too hard lumps of ground pork with a tasteless whole shrimp were overboiled until the soggy wrappers almost fell apart. Noodles were soft and overcooked. The broth was dilute and without character. The beef brisket was undercooked, tough, and too fatty. Yes, ngo nam should have some fat, but not more than half of each chunk. The one saving grace was the choi sum were tender and cooked just right, but needless to say, the vegetables shouldn't be the highlight of a bowl of wontons.

Beef brisket and won ton with noodle -
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3086/2...

The interesting thing is that the hot sauce condiment on the table was pretty tasty with minced bits of salty preserved vegetable and black beans. It didn't go with my dish, but I tried a little nip of it just because.

Hot sauce condiment -
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3268/2...

Is there anything here worth ordering? This spot had a good rep for a long time.

The final downside is the sullen waitress. I was the first customer at lunch time, and only two others came in by the time I left. She didn't say "hello" when I walked in nor "good-bye" when I left. No thank you's either, and the only reason I know she's not mute is that she did grunt something to confirm my order.

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Just Won Ton
1241 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

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  1. Oof sounds like terrible service. I ate there a few weeks ago and it was pretty good. I had the beef tendon won ton noodle soup and the wontons were pretty good. Interesting that you had lumps of ground pork in yours. The ones I ate had pork spare rib meat that was not ground. Their beef brisket is fatty so I switched to the beef tendon (which they don't always have). My friend likes the pig's feet wonton noodle soup there. I've tried a couple of soup places (Ming Tai, the Macao place) in the outer Sunset, but haven't really found one I like better. It would be great to find somewhere similar in that neighborhood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wanderlust21

      "Ground" isn't quite the right word. The texture was more like chopped meat, done the old-fashioned way with two cleavers like my mom used to, where you get some very find and other pieces coarser. There were some even bigger pieces in there too.

      My mom was with me and tried the sui gow with wontons. She didn't fare any better although I can't remember much about her dumplings other than that she didn't like her lunch at all. She asked me why we didn't go to Ming Tai instead. . .

    2. I think your review sums up the level of quality you get with Asian foods in the Sunset. If there's a reliable place using quality ingredients, I haven't come across it in about 10 years. Even the top rated pork buns in the area has a high probability of mystery meat in them. Just when I'll be thinking something is really decent I'll hit one of those grizzly bites with a strange dish rag flavor out of nowhere. You have to remember the economics of the area, as a lot of Chinese families moved to the Sunset with large families, in smallish homes, so just like in parts of China, they go out to eat on the cheap as much as possible. The lines you'll see in the Sunset do not always correspond to the place serving good food. I think it's also safe to say that the standard for what a won ton should be has vastly improved since the days Just Won Ton opened.... no thanks to them.

      6 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof

        I find Riverside (JWT's neighbor) and S&T Seafood to be a cut above.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Can't speak on Riverside and I know it gets rave reviews, but I'm still skeptical! As for S&T, I really don't get the appeal, because I found it to be really greasy, and full of strange meats, but I suspect it's living off an old rep from decades ago. I don't even think it's the same owners, just that people kept going to the same spot. I think that's kind of common with the Noriega places in particular.

          I wonder if quality is enough, or if like pizza and burritos, Chinese falls into that specific preference thing.

          1. re: sugartoof

            Hmmm - not sure that's true. I went to JW a while back, had a bad meal and never went back. Went to S&T after all the raves, had a so-so meal with unuser-friendly menu & staff and never went back. Ciao, Noriega, except for the deli Cheung Hing on 30-something avenue.

            1. re: sugartoof

              What does "strange meats" mean?

              The location where S&T is has had three different owners in the three or so years that I've been going there. All well documented on this board. The second one changed the name to S&T, so I'm not sure what you mean about it having an old rep. I was last there in November, it might be on a fourth owner by now!

              There's really no such thing as "Chinese" food. The cuisine is provincial, just as there's no "italian" food.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                There have been Chinese restaurants with a dim sum annex there for a long time. At least 20 years. The very first of which got a number of write ups, and was decent. Couldn't tell you how many owners it's had, but I think one of the recent employees bought it from the last owner.

                I don't think anyone needs me to elaborate about what the phrase "strange meats" in context with a Chinese meal means. Strange. Weirdly textured, low grades, not entirely representative of how said meat normally tastes.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Ah, thanks for clarifying. I thought "strange meats" meant types, not quality.