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Feb 24, 2010 10:05 PM

Uncle Willie's BBQ: best housemade hot sauce in the Bay Area?

Armed with a certificate (which made dinner for two come out to a whopping $12), I finally got around to trying the brisket at Uncle Willie's BBQ in downtown Oakland -- and I agree with those on this board who have said it's one of the very best renditions in the Bay Area -- not super smoky, as others have noted, but moist, awesome mouthfeel, and nice amount of fattiness.

The real star, though, was the hot sauce, which was flat-out amazing, maybe the best I've ever had. A nice complex heat without being inedibly spicy (I'm a relative lightweight in that respect). It got me thinking, is there a better housemade hot sauce in the Bay Area?

For me, the "death by chilis" ("la si ni") at Old Mandarin Islamic, which might loosely be categorized as a "hot sauce," is too spicy to be enjoyable. On the other hand, if you consider a salsa to be a kind of hot sauce, then I think the habanero salsa at Poc Chuc would be another contender, though for me it wasn't quite as memorable as the sauce at Willie's. I also really like the XO sauce at Hong Kong Flower Lounge. Are there others that I shouldn't be missing?

(And, not to hijack my own thread, but besides the brisket and the hot sauce, is there anything else even worth eating at Uncle Willie's? Greens were blah; mac and cheese practically inedible. And my wife's fried shrimp "sandwich" -- if you can really consider it a sandwich when they hand you two slices of generic sandwich bread inside a plastic baggy instead of actually assembling the thing for you -- was a pretty sad plate of food.)

Hong Kong Flower Lounge
51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

Uncle Willie's BBQ and Fish
614 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Poc Chuc
2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Many of the Teochew-Vietnamese places make their own sate' sauce. Ton Kiang has a vinegary green chile sauce. Dol Ho in SF Chinatown makes a great chile sauce that I always keep on hand in the fridge.

    Dol Ho
    808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Ton Kiang
    5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

    1. I have not had better hot sauce of that style. I like to get it on the side and use the leftover sauce at home.

      My other current favorite hot sauces Holy Land's zhug and the harissa or whatever it is at Oasis Market,. Also the vinegary sweet-and-sour sauce on Chef Yu's gampoongi, but that's not exactly the same sort of thing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Ah, I need to get back to Chef Yu's one of these days to try that chicken.

        Lots of great suggestions in this thread -- haven't tried any of them!

      2. The hands-down best hot sauce that I've had in the bay area is the Sambal at Pomelo in SF (both the 30th & church and Inner Sunset locations). I recently discovered that you can ask for it on the side of any dish. Previously I would only order the dishes that included it.

        It is good enough that I order a side no matter if it makes sense with the dish or not. It's that good. Fruity, floral, spicy, a hint of coconut milk. Awesome.

        I would put a link to Pomelo here, but I can't figure out how right now.

        2 Replies
        1. re: 10foot5

          10foot5, is that an Asian kind of hot sauce, with the coconut milk?

          1. re: abstractpoet

            More of a spicy condiment then a hot sauce I'd say. You mentioned habenero salsa in your post, it is closer to that than to BBQ hot sauce.

            Here's Wikipedia’s Sambal page:


            In looking at the various recipes there I don't see any including coconut milk so my taste buds may be deceiving me. In any event the Sambal at Pomelo is made in house and worth checking out (actually just about everything at Pomelo is worth checking out, IMO).

        2. In preparation for my 60th birthday party this past summer, my husband and I tried BBQ from seven or eight local places and settled on Uncle Willie's. It was the sauce. Complex without excessive heat. We served BBQ to about 50 very grateful people.
          Here's the link to that thread:

          Uncle Willie's BBQ and Fish
          614 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

          1. Bought one of the certificates this week -- what else is good besides the brisket and sauce?