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The Pot Sticker on Waverly Place Goes Sichuanese (With Perhaps a Little Skullduggery) [San Francisco]

Wandering by The Pot Sticker on Waverly Place, a restaurant I always wanted to like but never could, I noticed today it had undergone an extensive makeover and was defining itself as a Sichuanese restaurant. I picked up a paper menu from a table outside and sure enough, except for some sops to the Mongolian beef set in the lunch special and dinner sets menu, it now boasts a very ambitious Sichuan menu with some other Western and Northern Chinese specialties thrown in.

According to my Chinatown source, The Pot Sticker is now run by a female cousin (and former employee) of Michelle, who runs the dining room at Z&Y Restaurant and is the wife of Z&Y's chef Han Lijun. The new chef at the revamped Pot Sticker was, until recently, a subordinate in the Z&Y kitchen. These developments occurred without the blessing of the Hans and were, in fact, hatched while Michelle was vacationing in China.

I have a feeling I haven't heard the last of this story.

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Pot Sticker
150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

 
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  1. Encouraging news, even if only because the place can't possibly get any worse (at least going by past reports here)...

    1. And at the same time Chinatown Restaurant is becoming more Sichuanese:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/713795

      Over the past year, Z&Y has gotten better and better, and more crowded. Sounds like others are noticing their success.

      1 Reply
      1. re: david kaplan

        Chinatown Restaurant's actions seem like just a ploy to be all things to all people, while the Pot Sticker has undergone a real transformation. It does appear that the Cantonese stranglehold on Chinatown cuisine is loosening, though, and hopefully more diversity is on the way.

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        Pot Sticker
        150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

      2. Hi there,
        Wondering if anybody has any recommendations of "must try" dishes at Pot Sticker? I understand that the menu is pretty enormous... I'm going there on Thursday for lunch.
        Thanks!

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        Pot Sticker
        150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

        1 Reply
        1. re: lessleyellen

          What did you order and how did you like it?

        2. Reading Jonathan Kauffman’s lackluster experience with the Sichuan dishes here, I wanted to bump this thread to get updates.
          http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

          I dropped in here for dinner on October 16. A Saturday night, the place was quite busy with a mix of Chinese and non-Asian patrons. The menu’s wide-ranging, as “soupçon” described, and the similarity to Z & Y’s was easy to see. I did a quick scan to try to find something unique here. The Guiling (sic) rice noodle soup, $6.95, and Couples delight pancake, $7.95, sounded like good candidates. My server said those were two of her favorite things on the menu.

          The Guilin noodles featured a greaseless, light yet meaty flavored stock packed with thin rice noodles. Thin shavings of well-cooked beef shank layered over the noodles were topped with fragrant scallions, pickled spicy veggies, roasted peanuts, crunchy celery, and cilantro. The seaweed from the menu description was missing in action but the promised quail eggs bobbed on the surface. I loved how the broth grew more fiery as the chili oil from the sour-hot bits diffused through the bowl with more steeping time. However, chili-phobes need not run, the overall effect is only moderately hot. This was quite large serving to boot.

          My appetizer came out after the noodles were served. Couples delight (fuqi fei pian), one of my favorite Sichuan dishes was rolled up in an thin onion-oil pancake and cut into tubular sections. I’d had a similar dish with just the shank meat and too much sweet sauce at Z & Y, and this version with the mala spice hit was much better. The pancake itself was had many crisp layers and less oil than usual. For the fuqi fei pian, not only the beef tendon was sliced thinly but also the tripe pieces and they soaked up more of the Sichuan peppercorn infused chili oil. I was sorry that I didn’t have more tummy space at this point to relish more of this one at its prime.

          I would certainly order both of these dishes again. What else have folks tried here?

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          Z & Y
          655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Pot Sticker
          150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

           
          15 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Patricia Unterman's review came out yesterday. Unlike Kauffman at SF Weekly, no mention of Chowhound.
            http://www.sfexaminer.com/entertainme...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Interesting note on the Guilin rice noodles, which is currently my favorite noodle dish. Somehow I missed that entry while perusing Pot Sticker's menu. One hound was looking for this dish in a summer posting, so I'm posting a link to your find in that thread.

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              Pot Sticker
              150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

              1. re: Chandavkl

                What have you tried at the new incarnation of Pot Sticker?

                This was my first taste of Guilin noodles so I can't compare it to others. The broth was Cantonese-y or even Vietnamese in its lightness. There may have been more toppings than I described but I can't remember them all. The toppings seem to be the distinguishing characteristic. Does this sound like what you like so much?

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                Pot Sticker
                150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I don't like Sichuan style food. I just peek at the Pot Sticker menu each time on my way to Blossom Bakery across the alley. The attraction of Guilin soup noodle is both the noodle and the topping. The Guilin rice noodle is unlike any Chinese or Vietnamese rice noodle I had previously encountered. When patronizing one of the branches of the Eight Cafe Guilin noodle chain down here in the LA area I always get the version with fish fillet because it is so outstanding that I don't want to try any of the others. Likewise, Mrs. Chandavkl always orders her pork with preserved vegetables noodle soup for the same reason.

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                  Pot Sticker
                  150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

                  Blossom Bakery
                  133 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    Melanie described the Guilin rice noodles at the Pot Sticker as "very thin." The Guilin noodles I've had in China were anthing but thin. How would you describe the rice noodles at the Eight Cafe chain?

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                    Pot Sticker
                    150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

                     
                    1. re: soupçon

                      Like in your picture. Sort of spaghetti size.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Sorry, my gauge was thin compared to the wide, flat rice noodles used to make chow fun. The ones in this bowl were spaghetti size, just like the ones in Vietnamese bun bo hue.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Kinda looks like lai fun to me. I assume it's 100% rice with no other kind of starch mixed in? I was at a pho place once, and I asked the Vietnamese server if pho noodles were 100% rice, and she wasn't sure.

                            1. re: vincentlo

                              To me, the Guilin noodles seem a little denser. I'm guessing they're dry packaged, rather than fresh.

                              1. re: vincentlo

                                Vincent, I'd never thought about whether lai fun were anything other than 100% rice starch. So I paid attention today when shopping in Chinatown. The packaged fresh lai fun made by Hon's Wun Tun House lists potato starch as the last ingredient. However, the regular flat fun by Hon's is all rice (plus water and oil).

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                                Hon's Wun Tun House
                                532 Jessie St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I wonder if the label is truthful. One time I bought some salted duck eggs at Marina Food (or was it Ranch 99?), and the label said "Cholesterol 0 mg 0%." Hmm...

                                  You know how State Senator Leland Yee pushed to allow Chinese grocery stores to sell fresh rice noodles without refrigeration. At Marina Food in Foster City, they stock a huge variety of noodles (lai fun, pho, etc.) but all under refrigeration. Out of curiosity, I tried a bunch of them, and they were all cr*p!

                                  Talking about noodles, after trying dozens of brands of packaged ramen at various Chinese and Japanese stores over the years, I think I've found the best (or at least one of the best) ramen noodle at Nijiya. It's Sun Noodle made in CA sold in a clear package. Just great noodles! Too bad the soup package is just so-so.

                                  1. re: vincentlo

                                    These fresh rice noodles were not refrigerated and they were stamped "24", which presumably is the manufacturing date of today. Most places in Chinatown leave them on the counter by the cash register.

                                    1. re: vincentlo

                                      "At Marina Food in Foster City, they stock a huge variety of noodles (lai fun, pho, etc.) but all under refrigeration"

                                      At Marina Foods (the location you speak of), there is a wooden shelf adjacent to the dried noodles, the section closest to the fish tanks. That's where they stockpile the Ho fun, cheung fun, and they never go into the refrigerator section. If you go on the day they put them in stock, if you put your finger to the rice noodles, a few batches might softly bounce back. The best kind to get are of course by Hon's Wun Tun (SF). The other brands they stock have Vietnamese names and I've tried one or two of their banh cuon (cheung fun) but did not enjoy it that much. The fresher batches of Hon's arrive during random days of the week.

                                      However in the refrigerator section, there are a few brands of fresh noodles that are quite decent, like An Tai (El Monte) although they are more of a Taiwanese and Shanghainese style (e.g. Yang Chuan or Nantou Yi Mien).

                                      99 Ranch (Foster City) on the other hand, doesn't do this, all their fresh noodles head straight to the refrigerator.

                                      Sun Noodle is good. Apparently Nijiya sometimes does sell its own brand of ramen too, but seems that only Sun has a tonkotsu soup packet.