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Chinese food in Marin county?

Hi all, we currently live in Mountain view, home of Castro St and 99 Ranch market and all sorts of good Asian and Chinese food. We are tentatively considering a move to Marin county, hopefully not too far away from Golden Gate bridge and SF, in the next few years because of work reasons. Is there a Chinese community up there? Are there pockets of good Chinese food and grocery stores? Thanks.

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  1. Marin? Chinese? Fugeddaboutit. You might as well be in Fresno.

    When I want good Chinese food, I take a 15-minute drive to the East Bay' s Asian cultural enclave at the Pacific Mall with Ranch99 and nearby restaurants. It's on Pierce Street off of the Central Ave. exit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sharuf

      ... or rural Kansas

      While this is probably not all of it, here's what's flagged as Chinese in Marin County in the Places database

    2. Since you also asked about grocery stores I thought that I would mention that the Asian Market on Mary Street in San Rafael (near Whole Foods) is excellent. They have a large selection in a small space and the owners are very helpful. I have never been to 99 Ranch (but have heard about it), but I almost always find what I need at the Asian Market.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mary64

        Nice tip. Here's an article about it and other ethnic markets in Marin.

        Asian Market
        5 Mary St, San Rafael, CA

        1. re: wolfe

          Has anyone tried Harmony lately? I wasn't impressed with my visit after it first opened and didn't go back. Either people seem to love it like Anna or think, like I did, that the prices were too high and the portions too small.

          Reading the yelp reviews it seems the restaurant didn't take to heart the suggestions for improvement in the Chronicle review last year. Some of the negative yelp reviews are actually hilarious especially the one by the Jewish poster who was disappointed ... "If you are ever lucky enough to visit Marin on Christmas Day, check in with Yet Wah on 4th St. in San Rafael. It's where my temple goes to eat pot stickers and celebrate the baby Jesus' birth."

          Still, I'm such a sucker for them fancy flights of creatiivity ... Fresh Cut Asian Fries (sweet or regular potato) with garlic, green onions and mitsuba (Japanese cilantro) ... $7.50

          It is just the portion/price ratio that gets to me here. I agree with one yelper who said if they just upped the portions a bit it would help.

          Five bucks for two steamed dumplings ... yes I know it is organic ... but still. People say Yank SIng is expensive too .. true, but you get a decent portion for that money. People can't say it is any more expensive to run a restaurant in Marin ... in a shopping mall ... than what it costs Yank Sing to run a restaurant on prime-time SF real estate.

          Anna was unintentionally funny when she wrote "I was delighted to find that they serve dim sum (all day in fact), and that the portions were such that a single diner could also enjoy a dim sum lunch."


          A single diner could probably polish off the entire dim sum menu alone and still not leave stuffed ... ok, I exaggerate ... slightly.

          The best ... best ... comment was from a Yelper who called it Har-money

          So ... any recent thoughts? Any incentive to loosen my grip on my wallet and give it another shot?

          1. re: rworange

            Too funny RW..my impressions of Harmony were similar to yours.

            But........I had not read that posting regarding Yet Wah. This is someplace I never contemplate visiting but my family & I had just finished the discussion about what to do on Xmas (we are also of the non-Xmas persuation) and we decided to head there and then a movie.

            I thought we were being so original! Damn!

            1. re: MSK

              >I had not read that posting regarding Yet Wah. This is someplace I never contemplate visiting but my family & I had just finished the discussion about what to do on Xmas (we are also of the non-Xmas persuation) and we decided to head there and then a movie.<

              I hope your experience at Yet Wah in San Rafael is better than my one and only visit there a few years ago. It was terminally mediocre at best. The mu shu pork was just terrible, and I remember how good it used to be at Yet Wah in the city a long time ago. I went with a Chinese friend and we both agreed that they're riding on their long-ago rep in the city.

              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                I wound up going to 99 Ranch the day before for lobster and picked up a whole bunch of frozen dim sum. For Xmas day, I broke out the old bamboo steamer and we had a Chinese Dim Sum party at the house instead.

                Sounds like I didn't miss much at Yet Wah except for someone else doing the dishes.

                We had fun.

            2. re: rworange

              While RW is absolutely right about the dim-sum at Harmony (i.e. unexceptional, small, and unconscionably expensive), they have a take-out lunch special for $7 of rice (white or brown, and they seem to be pretty liberal about subsituting fried or chow-mein)a meat and a veg. In particular there is a beef much like R&G's "signature beef" that I find myself craving often. Right now for instance. Too bad I'm home in North Beach instead of at work in Sausalito. (No, scratch that.)

          2. No Chinese community to speak of up there, so your choices will be limited. You're currently sitting in one of the hotbeds of Chinese influence with all of the Silicon Valley companies, so the difference will be like night and day for you. However the suggestion to drive to the Pacific East Mall, as well as a bunch of places on San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito is a good one.

            1. Mountain View is not that great a place for Chinese food, but compared to Marin County, it's like Hong Kong. Like others have said, drive to El Ceritos for the closest 99 Ranch.

              1. If you live close to the GGB, Clement St is only 20 mins away, depending on traffic, of course.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sarah

                  Actually, if you live in Sausalito or Mill Valley the distance to Clement is about 1/2 of that to Ranch 99. Further out the advantage goes to Richmond/El Cerrito.

                2. Check out Dynasty Restaurant in Marin. They do decent Chinese and will even cook some Korean-Chinese dishes like tan-soo-yuk that aren't on the menu.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Hopefully this is the one in Tiburon.

                    Dynasty Restaurant
                    1801 Tiburon Blvd, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Yep, that's the daddy. One more tip -- if the waiter doesn't know what you mean by "Korean-Chinese" food, have him ask the cook.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        Correction: Feng Nian is the place we get Korean-Chinese in Sausalito.

                  2. Hi -

                    Contrary to popular belief, there is a Chinese community in Marin, although I have to say it's certainly not a huge community comparing to the other Bay Area, but more and more Chinese are moving into the area from various parts of China - Taiwan, Mainland, Hong Kong, Vietnamese Chinese, etc. I know, I am a Realtor here and I am Chinese - so I tend to have my antenna out.

                    I do have to agree that there are not many authentic Chinese restaurants in Marin because the do tend to gear towards American taste - like my own son :-(. However, you will find that each have it's own special authentic Chinese dishes.

                    However, I see the trend moving because of the population change, slowly but noticeable. So, since you will be living here long term, don't despair, in comparison, but the ones mentioned below are some of the nice ones.

                    I personally do hop over the bridge to the mall at 99 Ranch Market in Richmond and also go to Clement and Geary on 7-9th street for Chinese groceries and/or restaurant. I live in Novato and can be in either places within 1/2 hour or shorter - Most of the people go during the weekends and there is usually no traffic to either places.

                    So, enjoy what the Marin can offer, including Chinese food.

                    And if you like, I will introduce you to some Chinese here in Marin. Great people, if I must say so myself :-)

                    Sylvia .

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sylvia Barry

                      >the ones mentioned below are some of the nice ones.<

                      Please tell us those places :-)

                      1. Agreed that there is no authentic Chinese in Marin, but if you are hankering for some "Chinese Food" - House of Lee on 4th in San Rafael does decent Dim Sum and Pings at 817 Francisco Blvd in San Rafael does a good job on "American Style" chinese.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: foodtroy

                          I could make a meal of the pot stickers at House of Lee. Oh, I've already done that, one of the great guilty pleasures.

                          1. re: foodtroy


                            Ping's Mandarin
                            817 Francisco Blvd W, San Rafael, CA 94901

                            House of Lee
                            885 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                            1. re: foodtroy

                              Pings is the only place in Marin where you can get mu shu pork on the lunch menu.

                              1. re: Sharuf

                                I've had some good (not great, but not bad, usually with large portions and the option of brown rice, which I like) prawns with veggie lunch specials at Peking Wok, Jennie Low's, Szechuan 7 and Tommy's Wok. These may not be authentic, but they're fine for a quick, filling lunch.

                                I went to Pings once and have not been back. The spicy tofu I had was red, gloppy and bland.

                                Also in Marin, there's Feng Nian in Sausalito, DJ's (used to be CJs?) in Larkspur, Chrysanthemum in San Rafael as well as China Palace and China Villa in Novato to name a few. I haven't been to these, but wanted to make the point that there are lots of Chinese food places in the county.

                                2214 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                                Feng Nian
                                2650 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

                                Jennie Low's Chinese Cuisine
                                120 Vintage Way, Novato, CA 94945

                                Tommy's Wok Chinese Cuisine
                                3001 Bridgeway Ste H, Sausalito, CA 94965

                                D J Chinese Cuisine
                                435 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA 94939

                                China Palace
                                7089 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945

                                Peking Wok Restaurant
                                418 Las Gallinas Ave, San Rafael, CA 94903

                                China Villa
                                340 SIR Francis Drake Blvd, San Anselmo, CA 94960

                                Szechwan 7
                                411 3rd St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                                1. re: melisky

                                  How would you compare those to the authentic Chinese eats available in Mountain View?

                                  1. re: melisky

                                    There are quite a few Chinese restaurants in Marin. Their menus are almost clones of each other with all the predictable items, and you won't see many Asians among the clientele. Wonton soup and sweet and sour pork, anyone?

                                    1. re: Sharuf

                                      Just wanted to add another rec for Peking Wok in the Longs mall in San Rafael. You get a lot of food for your money and the quality is pretty darn good, imho.

                                      Authentic? Maybe not but it's delicious and there were plenty of people of all ethnic backgrounds enjoying the food, if that means anything to you. I like the spicy prawn dishes, the brown rice and the hot and sour soup. I also like always having to bring home leftovers for another meal because there's no way you can finish what they give you for the lunch special of $7-8.

                                      1. re: melisky

                                        Peking Wok is my local favorite cheap lunch destination. My favorites are prawns with snow peas and beef chow fun.

                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                          I've found a handful of one-hit wonders (at lest for my tastes).

                                          Chrysanthemum - San Rafael
                                          Pork Egg Foo Young

                                          D J Chinese Cuisine - Larkspur
                                          Mongolian Beef
                                          Fired Chicken Wings
                                          Cherry Pork (for the kids)

                                          Yet-Wah - San Rafael
                                          Pork Pot Stickers (thin skin, gingery)

                                2. re: foodtroy

                                  OLD thread. We walked past House of Lee this morning. They hadn't opened yet but their dim sum menu was quite extensive. And even had chicken feet which I assume 99% of non-Chinese don't eat (we do). Any updates on it please?

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Here's a more current thread though not detailed.

                                    You might try setting custom dates (I used 24 months) on the site search engine to find information that is more recent.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      I saw that thread. Thanks, Melanie.