New: Great authentic Beijing cuisine in San Francisco
Brand-new Beijing restaurant on Alemany and Ocean is a rare find and an oasis in our neighborhood. We've been twice in the last week and both times the food was wonderful and really interesting. I should say my husband is Chinese and both of us are adventurous Asian food eaters, so we tend to know quality and authenticity when we find it.
The owners Sandy and Jin are two Beijing natives (by way of New Zealand) who are young, energetic, and very outgoing. They are very excited about their food and eager to tell you about the special "small food" dishes and hand-made noodles Jin's mother (who ran a restaurant in Beijing for 20 years) is making in the back alongside another trained chef.
The restaurant specializes in Beijing cuisine, only here, they mean it. The place is small (9 tables), occupying an unusual corner spot you may have never noticed before. There are dishes here you will rarely find in the bay area and everything we've had has been wonderful. The first time, we had:
* Cumin Lamb
* House Special Pie--really a kind of turnover with wonderful pork and ginger
* House Special Steamed Meatball--amazingly tender and delicious
The second time we had:
* Warm Pot with fish-a kind of soup in a clay pot with tender slices of rock cod and preserved vegetable in a tasty broth
* Beijing Beef Pie--fantastic
* Beijing Style Noodles with Special Sauce-made with hand-pulled noodles you mix everything together with cucumber, been sprouts, and celery--a tad salty, but that might be Beijing style
* We even tried dumplings with fennel! Apparently it's a Beijing favorite
The menu has lots of other interesting dishes on it, including flour ball dishes (meaning dishes with dumplings), and lots of Beijing specialties as well as many more traditional Chinese restaurant dishes. They do a very inexpensive lunch as well.
From the original poster: The name of the restaurant is BEIJING RESTAURANT. It's at 1801 Alemany Blvd. (at the corner of Ocean Avenue).
John, Becky, Nick and I had dinner at Beijing Restaurant last night and had a great time. The owners are really nice -- and we had a chance to meet Jin's mom, who is very proud of her food. We had:
** the steamed meatball -- delicious
**house special spicy eggplant -- not that spicy, but with unexpected but delicious shrimp, pork and chicken in a tasty hoisin based sauce
**Beijing beef pancake -- housemade pancake rolled around a nice beef filling,
**absolutely delicious, garlicky "boiled beef," served cold -- the best tendon that I've ever had -- again, not really spicy, but wonderful flavor and beautiful texture.
**Stirred Flour Ball with Shrimp -- small dough cylinders, about 1/2-in long, cooked to a very nice al dente texture and stir-fried with shrimp, cucumber and peas and carrots -- the veggies were a bit boring and the dish could have used a more complex sauce, but the flour balls were quite addicting because of their nice texture.
** Hot and Sour Nappa -- this was the weakest dish, not hot, not very sour -- I prefer a cold, marinated version of this dish.
We will definitely visit this restaurant again! I'm so glad that it's only 5 minutes from my house, but I'd travel to go there. There are so many interesting sounding dishes that we want to try -- all sorts of dumplings, pancakes, "pies," hand-pulled noodles, pan-fried and steamed baozi, and lots of Beijing-style meat dishes. They also serve a hot-pot dinner that looked very good at the table next to ours. It's only listed in Chinese on the menu, but you can ask Jin about it -- he's very helpful and excited about the restaurant's food.
All in all, a great experience -- very nice people, very good food.
re: Nancy Berry
Jing and I went over the weekend. We had several of the same dishes others have written about, and I don't have much to add about these, except that the House Eggplant dish was the highlight of our meal.
The one thing we ordered that it seems others have not:
- Grilled lamb kebob appetizer. These were a bit of a disappointment. A bit fatty for me and not much cumin taste. We told the male owner (Jin?) that we thought it would be better with cumin. He said there was cumin and that they themselves prefer more cumin, but they found that their customers didn't like a strong cumin taste, so they toned it down. He said next time we should tell them, and they will make it to our taste.
I wonder how others compared it with Old Mandarin Islamic on Vicente? I enjoy them both and can't really declare a victor after one meal at Beijing Restaurant. Nice to have another authentic Beijing restaurant in town, and I hope the newcomers are successful.
After reading this I just had to check it out. Bottom line: I will return, but this place will need some time for the young owners to work out the kinks. Apparently this review triggered a big turnout, with lines out the door and long waits. (Anyone confirm this?) They had no idea what hit them, so I told them to search chowhound.com... By New Years eve (last night) it was pretty quiet though.
I stole from your page and had the cumin lamb(good), house special pie(yum!), and Beijing style noodles with special sauce(sauce was meh). Next time I gotta check out the other noodles, the flour ball dishes, the dumplings... Definitely intriguing.
as much as I love CH, I can think of a number of places that were quite favorably reviewed on this board, and yet didn't become hugely popular overnight...I suspect the crowds had something to do at least in part with the New Year.
OTOH, it is true that really good Chinese restaurants aren't all that common in that part of the City....and it figures that one would open just when I am leaving town! (sigh)
this place does sound worth some exploration. Thanks all for the reports. I am with Cynsa: when is the Chowdown?
Thanks for the report. Will have to try next time I'm running around the City. Love hand pulled noodles.