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.
I went for solo lunch. The zha jiang mian was pretty good. Vegetables were freshly cut, and according to the waitress, the noodles were pulled to order. The noodles were very dense and chewy with good texture, much better than the machine pulled softer noodles you usually get at the Korean places. The sauce was nicely smoky. Everything was plated separately and you mix it together to your preference, like in Beijing. The waitress warned me to be careful with the sauce. She said some people dump the whole thing in, but she felt that was too salty personally. I used about half, so I'm inclined to agree with her.
Also had the stirfried potatoes with chili, which were much more garlicky than usual, so garlic fans take note.
re: Melanie Wong
I'm really bad with color, so it just looked brown to me. Kind of like chocolate. Definitely not black. More savory than sweet. (I'm sorry I can't give you a definitive answer b/c zha jiang mein is one of those dishes which always tastes different to me depending on the restaurant).
The noodles were very good. She had obviously just cooked them in boiling water, but taken them out to dry in their own heat, because there was no water in the bowl (I hate that) and they were nicely tacky and just waiting to suck up the sauce.
We went back for the third time to Beijing Restaurant at Alemany and Ocean. This time we had
#54 Jing Dong Meat Pancake-similar to their Beijing Beef pancake, but with pork-good
#72 Stir Fried Flour Ball with shrimp-these are tiny cubes of hand-rolled noodles--very good
#145 Egg Surface Tofu-fried rectangles of tofu in a very flavorful sauce--very light
#89 Beef Stew Noodle Soup-lovely anise broth with tender beef and hand-pulled noodles
#66 Fried Sweet Cake Beijing Style is out of this world--one of the best desserts you can have--red bean paste, dates, nuts, inside some kind of light dough lightly fried
Without reading your post first, we ordered nearly the same stuff that you did, except, instead of #72, we ordered pot stickers (#1) and added House Special Pie (#59) to what you ordered.
A small and very friendly, inviting restaurant. It is clean ... spic-and span clean. Platees are simple and pleasant. Interestingly, unlike other Chinese restaurants, we had to ask for chopsticks!
Pot stickers look like the traditional dumplings aka shui jiao. The wrappers are somewhat gummy and mushy fillings without much texture or flavor.
The noodles are quite toothsome. I’m not sure if it is hand-pulled, but definitely not mass manufactured. Judging from the cut, it’s probable a product of a rolling pin. Jim/Jin says his mother is in charge of all the pasta products in the kitchen. The beef broth was somewhat bland and lack of characeristic beef flavor. We ordered it spicy.
House Special Pie is tasty and one can tell that chives are in season, but the Meat Pancake is a bit greasy for me.
Fried Sweet Cake Beijing Style (#66) is basically deep fried mochi, about twice+ the size. The fillings are red bean paste based with some chopped up dates and pine nuts. Ours are a bit oilier than it should be, as though the frying oil wasn’t hot enough. Also it tasted plain to us, without the distinguishing fragrant order. We like the version at Old Mandarin Islamic better.
In general the flavoring is on the weak side. Not being a connoisseur of Beijing style cooking, maybe that’s the way it supposed to be. I also wonder the fact that they do not use MSG is a contributing factor. However, the place is so inviting, the proprietors are so friendly, I already have plans to go back and try their Flour Ball, ZJM and Cumin Lamb.
Went here for the first time for Saturday brunch. Thanks ksherak for finding this place. Before I get to the food, let me just say that the young couple who own the place are just wonderfully nice. They gave great suggestions for ordering, were super friendly, and were very nice to my 14 month old nephew (who loves chinese food). They were also very excited about all the people coming because of the Chowhound review.
On to the food. We stuck with the dim sum menu mainly and it was great:
1) Hot and Sour cucumbers: Refreshing, a nice amount of spice. Delicious sauce.
2) Jing Dong Pork pancake. I love this dish. Nice a flaky dough, with a gingery pork filling.
3) Three flavor dumplings: leek, pork and shrimp boiled dumplings. Quite flavorful, and a nice change from the usual pork dumplings
4) Vegetable pie: Similar dough to the jing dong pancake, with a plethora of leeks and eggs.
5) Pan fried baozi--probably the only slight disappointment. These were a bit doughy, and not juicy enough inside.
And the gave us a fried red bean bun on the house. Yum!
Next time we need to get: cumin lamb and the beef stew. Can't wait to go back.
Thank you so much for the tip! On a recent trip to Bejing, I fell IN LOVE with the cuisine. I am happy to hear I can get my fix in SF.
Also, perhaps I should start a new thread with this question, but I thought you might know...
When I was in Bejing I allowed myself a quotidien indulgence in a seemingly ubiquitous Dongbei cookie - the best way to describe it is this:
A buttery, not too sweet shorbread square, that was at least 1/2" deep. There was often a red stamp or decorative imprint on the top (like most cookies in Bejing.) When you bit into the crumbly exterior, a creamy red bean filling was revealed. Heaven. (oh, and it definitely was NOT a mooncake.) Pure heaven.
Does anyone know the name of the cookie? Or better yet, does anyone have a recipe? I would be so grateful.
yes I want one of these Peking Duck Restaurants (specializing in just duck ) to open here!!
Maybe not 4 floors worth! ..but at least one floor, and thin pancakes! The Mandarin (reborn)
It was my First Peking Duck...(and I guess you never forget your first!) are there any as good or better? Sliced at table, skin separated etc.are there any such places here in the Bay Area..?!
I don't think anything comes really close in the bay area. Especially if you're a skin and pancake man. As I recall, in Beijing, the skin was almost like a really thick (3mm) duck fat flavored potato chip and the meat was on the dry side. Whereas Cantonese duck has flabby skin and really juicy meat. My theory is that the cooks here are unwilling to sacrifice the meat for that crispy crispy skin and you end up with sort of an unsatisfying medium crispy skin and medium dry meat.
If you were desperate, I would have suggested R&G, but Melanie Wong went to R&G recently and reported the duck is going through an uneven phase right now.
In any case, they do buns, not pancakes. (But the buns are very good.)
Three places that serve in the non-Canto style and with pancakes are China Village in Albany, Five Happiness in SF, and Great China in Berkeley. I wouldn't recommend China Village's, and I haven't tried Five Happiness's duck yet myself (and the pancakes are reported as thick, not thin).
edited to add: Thought of two more, Shanghai 1930 and Z&Y, both in SF. I haven't tried either version.
Great China has the best Peking-style duck in the bay area.
It's good to see another authentic Beijing style restaurant open up. There's another one that opened up last year in Milpitas. I wonder if this is the beginning of a trend, sort of like how Shanghai and Sichuan style restaurants gradually propagated over the last few years.
Taste Good in Milpitas:
There's hope ... we were there last night and I heard about the plans for the 40th Ave and Irving place. Plans are for opening in September. Apparently, the family also has a largish place in Beijing. So they have considerable restaurant experience and seem to know what they are doing.
Yao Ming used to go to the Beijing restaurant and one of the younger members of the family keeps in touch with him. That's how Yao found out about the Alemany place. They said that many of their customers come from the Sunset (including Yao who stays there when he is playing in Oakland). The young husband will stay at Alemany, while his wife works the new place (Jin and Sandy?)
There seemed to be some new dishes on the menu. We didn't bring a menu home and I remember 2 I can't find on the menu we have here. One was a Beijing clear noodle dish with 4 (or 5?) color vegetables. We did not try it (yet).
We were attracted to another new dish with a non-explanatory name ... Chili something with 4 pancakes. Can't remember more of the name. It was superb (except the pancakes which were dried out and fell apart). Extremely (!) spicy chili flavored finely diced perfectly soft chicken, egg, vegetables, and? to be eaten like moo-shu in the pancakes. Except this was not your grandmother's shopping mall moo-shu! Real Beijing comfort food.
As usual the cumin lamb was (IMO) the best version of this anywhere and the same goes for the house special eggplant.
Still one of the best places. Next foggy night we will have the wonderful warm pot with boiled seafood and preserved veggies again. I think there is a post here that Yao eats two warm pots on his visits.
So the zha jiang mein was so good, I had to go back to get another bowl. In addition, I ordered the beef pancake, which was also good. The pancake was soft and brown with a mildly flavored beef filling. I was impressed because it wasn't soggy or swimming in a puddle of grease and beef fat.
i had a late lunch here today. i wanted to try the beijing style zha jiang mian to compare it with the korean style i'm used to. when i ordered it, she looked at me apprehensively and tried to explain that it's not "in soup". i said, "yes i know, it's with sauce." i explained about its popularity with koreans and she warned me, "but it's different. beijing style. i think beijing style is better tasting." i thought it was kind of her to warn me but i insisted that was why i was there.
after a short wait she came out to tell me it was almost ready, because they were making the noodles, and mimicked pulling dough. so they seem to be made to order. when the dish came out, it was as others here have described, with everything served separately. small plates of cucumbers, beansprouts, and blanched diced celery. the sauce came in a small bowl and i got the same warning about the saltiness. however, i thought the full dose was necessary to coat all the noodles, and i didn't find it too salty.
i love the texture of these noodles! but i'm not so sure they were hand-pulled. hand made, sure, but the noodles were flattish and square, with folds where the dough had been rolled up and cut across into noodles. but pulled, cut, whatever, these had a nice dense texture, quite chewy and satisfying. and heavy. after awhile the joints in my hand were tired from pulling noodles out of the bowl.
the sauce was lighter, not only in color but weight and texture. not thick and heavy like the korean kind. the color was like a deep brown gravy with bits of meat, not at all like that almost black color from korean chunjang. which do i prefer? well when i was done i showed her the empty cup of sauce and said, "see? i ate the whole thing, it wasn't too salty at all!" and i liked it a lot, but korean jjajang myon is just such comfort food that i do prefer that style ultimately.
i ordered the three taste dumplings to go, and i am still too full to try them. they'll be past their peak when i reheat them, but i wanted to sample at least one more thing. when i left, the rain was pounding down, and i was about to break into a run when the woman opened the door and asked if i wanted to borrow an umbrella! i declined, figuring i could make it either to a covered bus stop or the walgreens in time to grab a cheap one, but that was very gracious of her.
i need to go back and try those noodles in a different prep. i'm glad this place is here in the city, and so easy for me to get to.
so the three taste dumplings turned out to be quite delicious. there were about 12-15 dumplings. can't remember for sure. they were boiled, stuffed with pork, chives, and shrimp. they were juicy, even the ones i ate cold, with a nice mild but rich stuffing. the lady working suggested these and the lamb dumplings. i now wish i had ordered the lamb dumplings, as i've never had lamb served like that before.
"fish with preserved vegetate in warm pot" is quite good. Complex flavors with balance of the somewhat sour preserved napa cabbage (home made) and sweetness of fish, not to mention the added texture of wide cellophane noodles. A keeper.
Also, very fond of "stired flour ball with pok." I especially like the texture of flour balls...very chewy...almost couldn't tell it's a flour product A better version thn Old Madirin Islamic.
What a transformation from Nulite Kitchen :-)
Yeah. That is exactly what I did on last Monday.
BTW, went with a bunch of friends on Sunday, and the fennel dumplings and vegetable pie were excellent. The fennel dumplings had a little dill mixed into the filling, so they almost tasted like a strange russian-chinese pelmeny. Vegetable pie had lots of leeks with a little egg for protein.
#27 Sliced Fish with Preserved Vegetable in Warm Pot is very good. Reminds me of the fish soup at China Village from years past, except with additional dimensions added.
All other dishes were all quite tasty. (Not that crazy about Cumin Lamb, but it definitely is passable)
We went to the restaurant for the fourth time the other night and tried the pork and vegetable pancake (the first pancake item -- had a Chinese name.) I liked it best of all the pancakes on the menu. We also had the pork and preserved vegetable noodle soup, very good with lots of pork and really nice pull in the noodles -- the preserved vegetable added depth to the broth. Also nice was the cucumber salad though it was supposed to be spicy but wasn't. We also had the lamb with green onion -- very nice -- mild lamb flavor.
We had a long talk with Jin. He told us that he now has 5 people in the kitchen and that that night a new chef who specializes in Beijing dishes was cooking with Jin's original kitchen staff. If the health dept. approves it (because new machines have to be added to the kitchen,) he would like to serve Peking Duck -- maybe in a month or so. Because of the new chef, they will also begin serving nightly specials soon. I'm really excited about this! Jin made an off the menu rice noodle salad for us that I hope they add as a special.
re: Nancy Berry
Stopped by last week and our small group enjoyed the food. I don't remember the exact names of the dishes we tried, but all were eaten within minutes so it must have been good:
Lamb with Preserved Vegetable in Warm Pot
Cold sliced Beijing sausages
A spicy flat noodle dish with shredded meat and cucumbers
Jia Jiang Mien
Sweed red bean cake for dessert
Deserves a return trip to try other Beijing specialties. Highly recommended.
Finally made it up there a couple of weeks ago. Was impressed with the food. The staff was friendly and helpful.
Had Za Chang Mien, serve with four small plate of seasoned vegetables and one small bowl of sauce. The noodles were wonderful and I for one wanted more sauce and maybe a little thinner. But this may be the real deal, I do not want what is the way it should be served.
Had a spicy cucumber, served in a bright red chili sauce, not as hot as it looked. Cucumber cooled off the chili paste
Had beef pancake, which was one of the better one I have had in the Bay Area. I have a unreal one on a street corner in Beijing a few months ago.
I think we had one more dish but am having a senior moment.
We did asked if they were going to expand the menu and was told that was in the their plans but wanted to get what they are doing right first.
The young lady did say they hope to get a oven for Peking duck, yes Chowfun there is hope someday.
I too finally made it here for an early dinner tonight.
Cumin Lamb (zi ran yan rou): excellent. I was pleased to see the balance of cumin and chili spice was even, and that it was not drowned in oil: the mark of a lazy or unskilled chef.
Beijing vegetable pie: jiu cai su he zi. a chive/egg stuffed "pancake". The young waitress said that it would be made fresh for my vegetarian girlfriend. Indeed it was. Again I was pleased how it was not laden with oil. Everything tasted "fresh"/xiang.
Beijing Noodles with Special sauce: Beijing Zha Jiang Mian. Like others have mentioned. The noodles were medium/thick, freshly made, but I found the sauce to be very salty. I only used maybe a third of the sauce to mix in the noodles.
Stired [sic] Fluor Ball with Vegetables: Vegetarian for my gf. Kind of like Shanghainese nian-gao. Looks like they take their fresh noodle dough, roll it into a thick strand, and then chop it up in to 1/4 inch dice (corn kernel size). The both of us liked the texture.
The place gets very busy and they get lots of takeout business.
Cumin Lamb: Zi Ran Yang Rou
Beijing Noodles with Special sauce: Beijing Zha Jiang Mian
Beijing vegetable pie: jiu cai su he zi
Flour Balls with Vegetables:
Cary, could you explain how the pancake dishes differ from the pie dishes? I've had the Jing Dong Meat Pancake there and it was tasty but your photo of the Beijing vegetable pie looks very similar only it looks as though it was griddled longer to get that nice toasty brown finish... Thanks!
At BR, fillings in the pie dishes are about ½ inch thick and the pancakes are about eighth of an inch. Pancakes are folded over, so one gets 4 thin layers of the flour shell and two thin layers of meat. The "pies" are not folded and also known as "boxes" at other restaurants. Pies have more veggies (typically chives) vs. pure meat (maybe some slivers of scallions) in pancakes.
We found the pancakes at BR, although tasty, dripping with grease.
Yum, we got to try this place yesterday; handily located on our drive back from the Greatland Target to procure untold quantities of paper products. We got the Napa and pork dumplings, the steamed baoi zi (I'm probably butchering the spelling), the Beijing Meat Pie and the House Special Eggplant. Everything was simply amazing; particularly the tender and meaty pie, with peas and a beefy paste suspended between flaky pastry layers. My husband was nuts over the eggplant, big pretty purple slices of the Japanese variety, with a salty/sweet sauce, chicken, and very tender prawns. My only quibble: we literally could not drink enough water later that night. We both drank quarts and were still terribly thirsty. Was that just salt??
One person is not a problem.
Not all dishes travel well.
A noodle dish would, either the ja jiang mien or a beef stew noodle (soup) would be good.
I recommend their "flour ball" stir-fry Three Flavor (shrimp, chicken and beef) is really outstanding.
The beef pancake (or any other pancake) will get soft later it is best when fresh from the kitchen.
Spicy Eggplant travels well too.
But as Gordon said you have a lot to pick from.
The other day five hounds gather for a fellow hound’s birthday. What other way but to have a eating adventure.
So we gather at Beijing in San Francisco to check out this newest place of regional Chinese food.
We had the following dishes.
Fish with Preserved Vegetable Warm Pot
A wonderful presentation of fish and pickled Napa cabbage with thick Ming bean noodles
Cucumber with Garlic Sauce
Chucks of cucumber in a wonderful sweetness garlic sauce a great dish to wet one taste buds prior to a feast
Beijing Beef Pancake
Again one of the better dishes with a pancake with was crisp on the outside and beefy on the inside.
Napa Cabbage Pork Dumpling
A great dumpling with mild taste and thin skin
Beijing Smoked Sausage
This sausage was more like Italian than Chinese. One of the diners said it was like Marco Polo exchange this dish for take pasta back to Italy.
Beef Stew and Beef Tendon Noodles
The noodles were great but the tendons was a little tough and was the only disappoint of the evening.
Corn and Pine Nut Stir-Fry
A very interesting dish not a combination I am use to. When in Beijing last year on our way to the Great Wall I saw piles of piles of corn just were picked. I ask the driver who told me that this was one of the main grains eaten by the locals. The pine nuts made this dish very interesting. Something one could easier make at home
Spinach with Garlic
Beijing was limited in fresh greens the best selection was spinach very strong garlic smell and taste
Cumin Lamb with extra Cumin
We ask that the chef not hold back on the cumin and he did not a highlight of the dinner.
Jiao Liu Pork Meat Balls
When it can to the table it looked like IKEA meatballs but that is were it stop. Meatballs steamed and then deep fried and finally stir-fry with some bell peppers.
Eggplant with Fish Sauce
Flour Balls with Chicken
One of my favorites, the “flour ball” were cubed wheat sheet and cooked perfectly so that the flour balls had a little bite to it.
Fried Mochi filled Red Bean and Red Date dessert
Normally I not a fan of red bean filling but this was something really good. They had a mixture of red dates mixed in with the red bean. Outstanding
Best part of the meal was we running into ksherak . The ksherak turned and notice that five of us ordered so many dishes. “You all must be having a Chowdown” to which I reply “if you only knew”. Then the reply was I was the posted this on Chowhound. We had a nice talk after that. It was nice to meet ksherak, hopefully she will have more find for us in the future.
They shared a dish of Tower of Fried Shredded Potatoes with our table. Something not on the menu but soon to be on it. The folks who run this eatery are in contact with Beijing on a ongoing bases and know what is new over there. This was a dish just start in Beijing. I think if they continue developing new item this should be great place to enjoy for years to come.
One great thing about Beijing is that there is no hidden Chinese Menu. Which is a plus to hounds who can not read Chinese. So there is no need for a Chinese speaker at the table. Also I notice another family at another table speaking only Cantonese and they had no problems.
Much to more to try at Beijing in the future.
As for a future Chowdown here it will be hard since the layout not set up for large groups. No round tables and I’m not sure if the kitchen is set up for large groups either. Food pacing was great, but I am not sure if the they mean to space the dishes or the kitchen need the time to make the dishes.
Hopeful they will add the oven to make the duck. I looking forward to trying this dish here and other dishes at a later date.
All this food with two beers can to 106 dollars. With a nice tip the cost of the meal was twenty six each. Most of the dishes here are under 10 dollars.
It was really great to meet you and the other Chowhounds at Beijing. I'm so glad you tried all those dishes and liked all of it. That was a great meal you had going. You guys know your stuff. I hope more readers will check them out and help build the business even more,. The owners really love people who love their food. They are really trying to introduce Beijing cuisine to San Francisco in a very authentic way. As on many nights, you can meet the young owners Jin and Sandy in the front of the restaurant and see Jin's mother and father popping out of the kitchen --they even had their 16 month old daughter there last night. It's a great adventure everyone should try.
Enjoyed my first visit to Beijing Restaurant last night. It was a chilly, windy evening ..... we started with the warm pot of sliced fish and preserved vegetable (napa cabbage): a generous bowl that comes on a heated stand. Full of perfectly cooked fish pieces, napa cabbage and clear noodles ( bean thread like? ) - the broth has a tart/sour taste - reminded me a bit of a hot & sour soup but without the chili oil. There is enough for 4 or 6 bowls to share. The Beijing Beef Pancakes were next - nicely browned but not quite crispy ...... rich in texture and with a well seasoned filling. Very satisfying - bit oily but not a problem for me. The flour ball with 3 flavors were only OK - yes, they had a nice toothsome texture but the flavor was too understated to be interesting - some wok breath would have been helpful. And they're really cubes not balls ....... The Beijing Noodles with Special Sauce featured nice al dente noodles with cucumber and bean sprouts and the special sauce. And as others have advised - didn't need all the sauce to dress the noodles ...... the noodles were the star of this dish. The sauce was OK but I've had other versions that appealed more to me. Good as a starch and foil for some of the other dishes. The West Lake Lamb dumplings w/ vinegar were very tasty - well seasoned filling and relatively thin skins but with still a bit of texture. The vinegar added a complementary note. Lastly, the House special eggplant was maybe our favorite dish ...... besides tender, glistening pieces of purple eggplant there are shrimp, chicken and basil. It leans toward the sweet side - would have been perfect with the addition of some of the hot sauce on the tableside carousel. Service was good - they boxed everything up for us in the kitchen. We missed Yao Ming ( Houston Rockets / Chinese National Team ) he was dining here recently when the Rockets came to town. No celebrities on this night but the restaurant was doing a pretty good business for a thursday night.
re: gordon wing
Who would have thought that Yao Ming would find his way to some small joint located in a residential district? I've read that the NBA teams stay in downtown SF hotels instead of Oakland when playing the Warriors. But I'm guessing he either had someone recommend this place or he's reading the internet sites (like this one?).
I talked to the owner of Beijing about how Yao Ming found them. He told me that it was recommended by a local Chinese friend and Yao did read about it on the web. Not sure if he read it here. He has been there twice.
But when I was told how much he ate I was speak less. But if you are 7'-5" you can pack it away.
We finally made it the much discussed on Chowhound, Beijing Kitchen, on an odd looking corner in Exelesior/Glen Park. The walls were filled with photos of Yao Ming, who apparently comes here to dine every time he's in the Bay Area. We got down to business and ordered some of their specialty items.
Shredded potato salad with chili oil - One of the hits of the meal. Crunchy and without that weird taste that raw or undercooked potatoes have.
Tomato and egg soup - Delicate taste and perfect egg flower.
Lamb dumplings - This was delicious. The lamb intense lamb flavour without overbearing gamey-ness. The skins were on the thinner side but had a lot of bite. The amount of juice in these dumplings far surpasses what most Bay Area XLBs have.
3 Flavoured Stir Fried Flour Ball - I loved the subtle flavouring of this dish. I've always had flour balls shaped bigger and in soup. These were more like tiny cubes. The size made this dish hard to eat. The texture of the very firm dough cubes, corn, veggies, shrimp, chicken, and fish made it a very unusual combination. A nearby table of Spanish speakers pointed at our table with this dish to copy in ordering. Glad we were able to provide cross-cultural food experimentation.
Jiao Liu Pork Meat Balls - This dish was the hit of the meal. Crunchy on the outside, soft and almost mousse-like on the inside. Topped with a very subtle, savoury sheer sauce. It reminded me of recipes of Beijing/Northern meatball that were a mix of pork and soft tofu then fried which is what I think how the texture is achieve here as well.
I particularly enjoyed the meal because it combined textures in each dish in surprising ways. I also loved the flavours... not the "hit you over the head" variety, but the kind that builds as you have successive bites. I also appreciated the light hand at saucing. The food may not be every one's cup of tea... especially for those who prefer ma la or associates Chinese food with strong spicing.
Actually, there are only a few pictures of Yao Ming on the wall of Beijing Restaurant. The rest of the pictures (including one of my family) are of the happy regulars of the restaurant and a few pictures of large groups of mainland Chinese nationals who have come to the restaurant for food from home.
This place is great. But I didn't go gaga over the Zha Zhang Mien.
The Zha Zhang Mien was too hard (too al dente?) and since the sauce was separate from the noodle itself, the flavor did NOT get infused into the noodle. Like others have said, the sauce is very salty. It's more of a "cold" noodle salad dish if you know what I mean. I would not order again--unless I go back home, toss it over a hot wok with some fresh garlic--then yummy.
The 3 type dumpling was good, fairly fatty pieces of meat and juice. If you like your dumplings fatty, then it's good for ya. If not, then not so good. I would not order myself, but would try next time the lamb flavored version. If any chowhounders ever go to China and stop by one of those "fast food" dumpling shops, which sell mostly just dumplings, then these dumplings and those from China are fairly similar. Decent dumplings at a decent price.
The last dish was the "Fen Pi?"--the clear flat noodle with shredded pork. It was perfect. Light sauc, great texture, and lean and most shredded pork. Yum.
Great place, great price, free parking. Lots of take out business when I was there, and the clients are reflective of the Alemany/Mission/Ocean area.
Can't wait to go again.
I'm curious about this place and curious if other have had a mixed experience there. I've been a few times now, and each time I ordered one or two good but not transcendent items, and an equal number of boring-to-meh dishes.
My wife really does not like the noodles. The dumplings are a different story, but she dislikes the noodles in the flour balls, beef noodle soup, and Beijing cold noodles. She finds them too bulky and toothsome, or something. She just finds them unappealing -- and she loves most Asian noodle dishes.
She and I both find the seasoning to be pretty bland. The fact that their menu has grown to include a lot of gringo dishes makes me wonder if they don't tone down some of the dishes for non-Asian customers. We asked for spicy with the Beef noodle soup, and there was nothing at all spicy about it until I added some of he chili paste.
Is the appeal here specific to people who know Beijing cuisine and have a specific hankering for it? Have we just ordered badly?
A coworker from Beijing describes it as the ugly stepchild of Chinese cuisine that isn't as celebrated as say, Sichuan, Hunan, or Cantonese. (She actually thinks it is funny that I'm eating at Beijing Restaurant. If she went out for a treat, she'd pick Sichuan or Shanghainese.) It is basically a very unrefined peasant food. For example, where Sichuan stir fried potatoes usually have a little vinegar, sichuan peppercorns, green onions, and dried chilis, the Beijing version has lots of garlic and if you're lucky maybe a few slices of bell pepper.
The area around Beijing is a fairly harsh environment (extremely hot in summer, extremely cold in summer), so they don't have a wide variety of ingredients to work with. The indigenous cuisine is hearty, stick to your ribs fare. The food is usually pretty seasoned (often with salt, garlic, fermented bean pastes), but NOT hot spicy. In other words, they weren't toning down the noodles for the gringos, chile hot is just not in their vocabulary. (Mustard hot, on the other hand, I think Beijingers can take to crazy extremes.) Hence, the zha jiang mein is kind of a classic Beijing dish--thick, wheaty, toothsome noodles with a very strongly flavored smoky sauce, and a few raw vegetables that grow well in that area. The noodles are done in a distinct style, not that they're just making normal noodles badly. It is quite possible that you just don't like the flavor profile. For example, my HK dad dislikes it tremendously and describes it as "everything tastes the same--salty and muddy."
No problem--my workplace is loaded with Chinese people from different parts of China. I've picked up a lot of interesting information listening to them put down each other's cuisines. (I do admit to blowing a gasket when someone told me that it was common knowledge that the Cantonese invented dim sum to appease their British overlords, so dim sum was therefore not real Chinese food.)
I admit that Northern Chinese food isn't what I'd want to be stuck with on a desert island. But it is a nice treat every once in awhile. Have you tried the warm pot with fish and their homemade cabbage pickle? I think that is pretty good, but I love mung bean noodles.
Have not tried either dish and will keep them in mind. I think we saw the warm pot dish on our neighbor's table and were envious.
For the record I will say we liked the Beijing cucumber salad app that I see references a few places here. Simple and refreshing with some nice subtle flavors.
Then maybe you would like some of the other cold apps.
You might want to avoid the stir-fried flour balls on your next trip. Other people on this thread like them, but I don't think you would like them. Lots of tiny cubes of dough in a brown sauce. There's kind of a sameness to it all if you know what I mean.
If you like lots of garlic chives, the vegetable pie could be your thing.
"A coworker from Beijing describes it as the ugly stepchild of Chinese cuisine that isn't as celebrated as say, Sichuan, Hunan, or Cantonese. ........It is basically a very unrefined peasant food. "
This is an example of where just because someone is from that area, means they are knowledgeable about the food culture and history. While, Beijing cuisine isn't as celebrated, saying it is "unrefined peasant food" is xxxxxxxxxx ....(edited) thoughtless. "Beijing cuisine" has influence from Shandong and neighboring "recognized" cuisines. Having less native ingredients with which to work doesn't make those cuisines less refined than others. A dumpling from the north/northeast can be an amazing, refined thing when made well.
".........For example, my HK dad dislikes it tremendously and describes it as "everything tastes the same--salty and muddy."
My HK mother tends to think the same thing: too much oil, too salty, or too spicy (for sichuan/hunan food). That's because she is used to Cantonese cuisine. She does however like the noodles.
Tried this place with my mom today after following this thread for the past couple of months. I agree with the poster's wife who didn't like the noodle texture. They appear to be cut, which I found too dense; I prefer a lighter (hand-pulled) noodle. The broth was nice and light, not oily or overseasoned. As a spice fiend, I found the chili sauce at the table to be a pleasant surprise. I'd never seen this style before: chopped up chiles (rather than flakes) in a thin, non-oily liquid. It delivered a nice kick and just a small serving delivered a pleasant heat.
I went with my Chinese mom, who felt strongly about ordering one of the warm pots. We got lamb with preserved vegetable, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this unfamiliar dish. The soup had a comforting quality to it that was saved from blandness by the slight sourness of the vegetable and the herbal hit of cilantro. One order was too much for the two of us, and my mom told me that the leftovers heat up wonderfully, and that I can add tofu or fishballs to the broth when I eat the rest.
The menu is entirely in English, but this does not mean that it's not helpful to go with a native Chinese speaker. When we tried to order winter melon, we were told that they were out, and because none of the other vegetables appealed, I asked for on-choy (aka water spinach or morning glory) only to be greeted by a blank look from the waitress. My mom jumped in with a request in Mandarin and minutes later we had a lovely plate of stir-fried (off-menu) on-choy at our table.
Definitely returning to try the lamb dumplings. Lots of interesting things on the menu that I'm looking forward to exploring on future visits.
Oh I finally made it to BEIJING RESTAURANT. I'll add my endorsement to everybody elses.
We tried a number of the items mentioned on this thread:
boiled beef cold appetizer: very good. cumin lamb: very good ... i liked it more here than
at a number of other places [although that might reflect similar preference in how
to prepare, rather than quality of execution/ingredients], beef pancake very good.
i really, really liked the sizzling rice soup here ... the stock/broth/liquid was much more
flavorful than the other versions of this soup lately.
the others at the table also liked those, including the chinese peoples.
less popular were the noodles with some kind of fish sauce and cucumbers, the spicy eggplant many others here liked ... it was a lot more sweet than spicy. the napa cabbage item was worse ... it was sweet and gloopy. i have no idea if that is what it
was supposed to taste like, but everybody hated that.
i also liked the lamb [?] dumplings more than my friends, but they have an employee
who makes dumplings at home in vast quantities, so they may be farther along the
dumpling diminishing marginal utility curve than i am.
will add this to the rotation for sure.
Went back again with a bigger group. This time we tried two kinds of dumpling (lamb and pork with fennel), the meatball with sour vegetable warm pot, stir fried ong choy, three flavor flour ball, and the cumin lamb that has been mentioned by so many on this board. We also threw in a ma po tofu (listed on the menu as something like hot braised tofu). One small complaint: I had ordered six dishes and asked the waitress if that was enough for five people. She counted them up, and said it wasn't enough, which is why I tacked on the tofu (against my better judgment since it didn't seem like the right restaurant for that dish, but I was on the spot). We're pretty big eaters, and the seven dishes (plus rice) proved way too much for us. Six would have been more than enough.
The warm pot was the unqualified winner of the evening. It had a wonderful, subtle combination of flavors and everyone loved the texture of the thick cellophane noodles. The taste of fennel in the pork dumplings was off-putting to some, but others loved the refreshing herbal hit of the fennel tops. I thought the lamb dumplings were on the dry side and some of the skins were falling apart.
I personally didn't care for the flour balls. Too much bite in the dough or something. This is the same issue I had with the noodles, so it may not be a question of quality, their noodle/flour dishes may not be too my taste.
I am a huge fan of cumin, so I ate a good helping of the cumin lamb. However, I was not as impressed by this dish as I'd hoped to be. It forwent subtlety and complexity in favor of an intense slap of cumin. I've seen this spice used better in other contexts.
Still, the overall verdict was very positive, with 5 out of 5 diners saying they would return. Some even said they would bring their (Chinese) parents there. Overall, another excellent meal.
Thank you for recommending and reviewing Beijing Restaurant. My boyfriend and I went for Saturday brunch and they let us in a few minutes before they opened. A little background info: We are both from Northern China and I have lived in Beijing.
Since there was only the two of us, we shared the Fish and preserved vegetables in a warm pot, cumin lamb, and the three flavor dumpling.
Fish w/ Preserved Vegetables: I personally thought this was the best dish. I've had similar preserved vegetable soups elsewhere in the bay area and Beijing's Restaurant's rendition was my favorite. The fish was tender, the soup was deliciously sour, and I love thick Chinese style vermicelli. This was the dish that made me want to bring my parents here when they come for a visit.
Cumin Lamb: very tender, great cumin flavor, not oily, spicy after a while. This was my boyfriend's favorite dish.
Three flavored dumplings: My boyfriend has a thing for dumplings, which I don't quite understand. I hate dumplings, especially when Chinese New Year rolls around...and every Chinese family makes you eat their dumplings. Anyhow, I thought these dumplings were dry. They put too much meat and they were definitely not made fresh. He and I both agreed the three flavored dumplings dish was the worst part of our meal, we won't be ordering any more of their dumpling dishes.
Incidentally, while we were eating, the receptionist wife took a large order from someone over the phone. The customer tried to bargain down the price! Is that appropriate? This is a new business and the items on the menu are already quite inexpensive. Irritated, the wife explained in her best English that she could not give such steep discounts on her food since she felt that her food was better in quality than some of the cheap Chinese restaurant food you find elsewhere.
Seems inappropriate for a regular order over the phone, even a big one. The one situation in which I could see bargaining being OK would be if you are organizing a very large event (e.g., a wedding) and looking for the restaurant to cater. But in that case of course I imagine you'd probably meet with the restaurant in person beforehand and you wouldn't be "bargaining" so much as soliciting bids from multiple restaurants for your business.
I was in china, staying in a mom and pop hotel, and mentioned I was going to a particular town next. The hotel owner asked where I was staying and how much I was paying. She was scandalized at the price, and called the hotel and berated them for 20 minutes trying to get the price down, simply because she was offended on my behalf. She got me about a 10% discount, and hung her head in shame.
You even "haggle" over *airline tickets* - simply saying "discount?" in English would get me a 40% price reduction, depending on the time of day the plane is flying.
Appropriate in America? Er, no. Appropriate at an authentically chinese restaurant? Worst thing is they say no, right?
Are you kidding?? If it's not appropriate in America, then how can it be appropriate at any restaurant in America? In China the prices are all inflated to account for the inevitable haggling that happens. That is not the case here, regardless of how "authentically Chinese" the food. Would you even try doing something like that at an "American" restaurant, even though "the worst they can say is no?" I doubt it.
I think that it was not dumpling but a clay pot of Sour cabbage fish soup that broken the foot.
Recently I was told that their hot pot Beijing style was good. I have not had it but was told that a dish of vegetables was 3.50 and a dish of meat was 6.50 and a set charge per person for soup and rice.
On my list to try later.
We went last night based on reading this thread. The food was great. This is a place that deserves to be successful and I hope it sticks around. The food was hearty but not heavy. The combination of not using MSG and not being overly greasy resulted in very flavorful, vibrant, refreshing and satisfying cuisine.
Here is what we ate:
Westlake lamb dumplings. They had a wonton like skin. The filling has very rich lamb flavor. Some of the least greasy and most flavorful dumplings I remember eating. Excellent.
House special spicy eggplant. The eggplant was impeccably prepared and went really well with the shrimp and chicken. My partners favorite dish of the evening.
Cumin Lamb: I wanted to try this because Cumin Lamb is one of my favorite dishes at China Village and I was curious to compare the two versions. The two versions are very different.
Here is my comparison of the China Village and Beijing restaurant Cumin lamb:
China village cumin lamb: Has a satisfying grainy coating that I love and some people hate. Has and intense almost yeasty cumin aroma and flavor. Gets its heat from fresh jalapenos. Very savory tasting.
Beijing restaurant cumin lamb: Does not have the thick coating that the CV version has. Seasoned with cumin seeds rather than powder so that the cumin flavor is more subdued than the CV version. Gets its heat from dried red chilies. Less heavy than the CV version. Very vibrant tasting.
I can’t say for sure which version of the cumin lamb I like more. Both are excellent and satisfying.
Flour ball with chicken: Our least favorite dish of the evening. The sauce was a little bland. The flour balls remind me a bit of rice cake but I like the texture of rice cakes better.
All in all it was an excellent meal and we will definitely be returning.
Just to toss in my two cents.
I thought the 12-course meal we had there was fantastic, one of the best meals of Asian food I've ever had.
The dishes were simple yet wonderfully flavorful.
It was a little bit of a cultural experience as we learned the stories behind the food. Not everyone in China eats rice, for instance. Away from the waterways, only the more affluent routinely eat rice. So the poor have to use something else. So they make flour balls as a substitute.
Two of our dishes were from potatoes, too. I had no idea potatoes were that widely eaten in China.
If you look at the photos I've posted you can see what we had in total. I'd say my favorites were the cumin lamb, which was spicy and perfectly cooked, the sour cabbage soup with clear noodles, the handmade noodle soup with beef, the flour balls and the stack of potatoes with black vinegar and chili sauce poured over it.
The price was more than reasonable with the cost per person at about $27 each for our group of seven.
The neighborhood is a little rough, but not too bad. I could see myself eating here many times as I explore the menu.
The first four photos are spicy cucumbers, Beijing style, sour, clear noodles and cabbage, dumplings and cumin lamb.
had an interesting dish the other night on special. i can't remember what the waitress said it was called, but it was house-made very thick starch noodles (she said rice but i doubt it, it was much more translucent than most rice products. maybe mung bean?), hand cut and jiggly. they were served with thinly sliced cucumber, red and green peppers (maybe jalapeno, can't remember), cilantro stems, and shredded egg sheets. a thick brown sauce was poured on top and the whole thing was tossed table side.
the star was the noodles, which one of my friends kept referring to in the masculine for some reason. "look at him! he's crazy!" he said, while watching the noodle slip and jiggle between his chopsticks. the brown sauce was rather unremarkable, but the brightness of all the vegetables made up for it.
otherwise we had some of the usual favorites: jing dong pancake was good, the lamb dumplings at first were good, but when tasted after cooling off, i found the flavor of the lamb coupled with the ginger spicing to be a bit jarring. ordered the wrong noodles. we wanted the zha jiang mein but ended up with noodles in "brown paste" which was actually a starch-thickened brown soup with pork, wood ear mushrooms, and lily bulbs. it was fine, but not what we thought we had ordered.
but that special dish sticks with me, thought it worth posting.
We also had this dish recently. Quite good, though probably won't make it onto the rotation. The noodles were not chewy enough for me.
They also have some new steamed dumplings as a special which were delicious. Ork and either green bean or carrot. We got half and half. These might just make it onto the regular rotation.
For the record, the rotation is:
Jing Dong Pancake
Three Flavor dumplings
The fish in the red boiled sauce
Yep, just had this dish last night too. I don't know why they don't just put it on the menu. She said it was "ground bean" noodles, I think they were mung bean but who knows--maybe some sort of root starch noodle. I like the dish, and it's great today as a cold leftover.
For some reason, she recommended the "three surface eggs" which were really three flavor eggs. Probably the clunkiest gloppiest dish of the evening that wasn't very interesting to us, with somewhat heavy/greasy fried slivers of pressed scrambled eggs.
My favorite was the Mao Xue special vegetables, which was actually a simmering pot of offal: pork blood cubes, tripe, intestines, chicken skin, and a few veggies. I'm looking forward to skimming the fat off the top and reheating with some extra broth and some noodles. Great depth of flavor, a somewhat challenging whiff of offal when we first served ourselves, but overall very tasty and rich flavors.
Next time, I'll be more prepared with info from this thread and I'll read the menu more carefully, but the knife work and overall care of preparation was definitely there. Other components of the experience were very nice too: welcoming and friendly staff, pretty good English, an enthusiasm to share their cuisine rather than give the white people chow mein, and clean rest rooms that speak well for the kitchen's cleanliness. We ate there on the late side, and watched one of the waitresses meticulously wipe down all the table top condiment containers, which was nice to see. There is definitely a lot of pride of ownership and care on display here.
Been trying to get to Beijing for a year, since reading this topic. I live in SoCal but my daughter lives in SF.............. though she admits to having a negative reaction to most 'authentic' Chinese restaurants (mostly near where she lives in the Panhandle area of the city). She is fine with Indian food, Moroccan, Vietnamese, Thai, but is sketchy in a setting where she's not sure what to order and where she's been told that Westerners get a different menu, different food, and sometimes higher prices. Apparently that description has been levied on most of the local Chinese places near her.
Well.................... Beijing may have converted her. We stopped by for lunch and ordered a trio of rather safe items: Chicken in black bean sauce, salt & pepper shrimp, and green onion pancakes. She enjoyed all of it and was pleased with the staff and the mix of diners. The restaurant walls are full of snapshots of happy customers, and several showed basketball star Yao Ming eating there. She's a sports nut, so that helped...... I think.
The jury may still be out for her on what happens at dinner time, but the only small thing she could comment on was that they didn't offer us chopsticks, though I'm very certain we'd have gotten them if we'd asked. So Beijing is a potential repeat and I think she'll be OK trying a more adventuresome menu with me next time.
Three of us met for lunch Tuesday at Beijing Restaurant. We had--
Grilled Lamb Skewer (not on menu)
#27 Sliced Fish with Preserved Vegetable Warm Pot
#34 House Special Steam Meat Ball
#42 Egg Surfaced 3 Flavor Dumpling
#59 House Special Pie
Everything was good. The warm pot had a great broth with a sour flavor and nicely chewy wide cellophane noodles. The meat balls were the best I have had in a long time-- very tender, a little sweet with good flavor and a few little crunchy bits. The House Special Pie was a pancake with a delicious chive and pork filling. As others have noted here, the dish is fairly oily but all the oil comes from inside-- the pancake itself was nice and crisp. The lamb skewers were fairly tasty but small and fatty. All in all it was great comfort food at a very reasonable price-- only $15 per person before tip.
Everything was good; comfort food like a warmed blanket on a windy day - the menu entices us to return to enjoy more.
We liked it all - the lamb skewers are tiny tasty bits and more about the deliciously crunchy seasonings than the lamb; I am curious to taste the cumin lamb dish next.; ah, the Warm Pot as noted is reminiscent of a delightfully delicate sauerkraut soup and must be enjoyed when served because it pales as reheated leftovers; the lovely richly flavored steamed meatballs are melt-in-the-mouth tender; this order of Egg Surfaced 3-Flavored Dumpling is more braised tofu than dumpling delicious and we enjoyed its texture and flavor; House Special Pie-a thick pie of chives and pork reheated was my DH's fave.
After-lunch-pie at Mission Pie for the Lemon Shaker pie, Walnut Pie, and Nectarine Blueberry Pie. Lemon Shaker wins the toss for best pie.
2901 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
One thing that makes this place great, is that a number of items on the menu are made a la minute. These dishes often come out at the end after some delay. I find the jiu cai he zi (chive pie/pocket) to be one of the best renditions in the Bay Area. They don't drown the item in oil either, which I think a lot of restaurants do when the items are premade and store in a fridge or freezer.
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