Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 15, 2009 02:21 AM

Need help Chow Hounders ..Soon Lee Restaurant still around ?

I moved away from the Bay Area 25 years ago ...we used to eat in San Francisco at this little chinese place called Soon Lee was near the Automall ? I did not drive at the time so I do not remember exactly where it was ...does this ring a bell to anyone ? they used to have the greatest garlic prawns I ever had .....please help if you know anything

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The AutoMall? Are you talking about the one at Potrero and 16th St.? Was the restaurant on Bryant?

    For you trivia fans, before it was the AutoMall it was a White Front discount store.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      Was that the Szechuan place on Bryant across the street from what's now the mall with the big Safeway? Current Jade Cafe?

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I just Googled it, and the Jade Cafe was indeed Soon Lee.

        1. re: OldTimer

          Now I'm craving kung pao chicken with lots of peanuts. Anybody had it at Z&Y Garden or China Village?

          The mall across the street is on the site of the old Seals Stadium, hence the baseball-themed names of the Double Play and whatever that other bar was called.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          I thought it was Jade Cafe. I ate there about 10 years wasn't very good if I recall.

          1. re: ML8000

            I'm talking about the 1970s. At the time it was better than the Chinese place on Church near Market so we'd take the trolley over.

            1. re: ML8000

              Yes. I've eaten at or from the current incarnation of the Jade Cafe many times because it's three blocks from my office. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, it's fine for ordinary Chinese restaurant fare. If you're not in the neighborhood, you probably have someplace just like it closer to you. The soups, the twice-cooked pork, and Thai fried rice are some of the better dishes.

        3. The only mention of a restaurant of that name on the net appears to be multiple references to your post and a restaurant in Warren Michigan. If you are in town Bodega Bistro has a good dish of garlic prawns. How about No. 1 China in West Chester. I found an online review of their garlic shrimp.

          No 1 China‎
          2 N 5 Points Rd, West Chester
          #103 Shrimp w. Garlic Sauce
          Shrimp w. Garlic sauce is the best I've ever had (has lots of shrimp!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: wolfe

            Wolfe , thanks for the research ...Chinese food in Pennsylvania is a different beast ..# 1 china is decent but is only to go and all seafood is old frozen ....I can go to Chinatown in Philly for good Dim Sum but thats really it in Cali you really can not grasp how lucky you are with all Asian foods and Mexican ....once you get to the east it is mostly like mall food in general

          2. Alas, Soon Lee is no more. It was one of our favorite lunch spots, tho not very elegant. We loved the Soon Lee shrimp, which was 1/5 shrimp and 4/5 batter. I recall one day we had to step over a dead body to get into the place. Yes...the police were there. I don't think I ever had anything but the shrimp, which were in a thick, sweet garlic sauce. Many places call it "Princess Prawns".

            1 Reply
            1. re: OldTimer

              I used to eat there often well over 20 years ago and your description of the favorite shrimp dish is exactly as I remember it. Perhaps not to my liking now, taste buds having been refined by Chowhounds lunches, but I really liked it then.

            2. thanks for your responses ......I still ate great chinese during my trip ....I guess I will always have the memories

              1 Reply
              1. I resided in San Francisco from 1971-1982 and went to Soon Lee's a lot. Whenever a friend or acquaintance visited The City I'd take them there to experience this Szechuan cuisine. I believe the last time I was there was 1988. And yes, I remember the Kung Pao dinners that they served with all the nuts.