weekday lunch stop in or around SF (on the way from airport to Davis)
I finally ate at The Kitchen. The scene was great. Friday at 6pm, every table was full. We were literally the only non-chinese. Some large tables, some smaller tables. Quite the scene.
The menu has pictures. I originally thought this was patronizing, but the chinese customers got the same menu. No obvious chinese-language-only specials.
The specials area in the menu included BBQ, Abalone, Hakka, and another region I'm not familiar with.
We opted for: boiled beef, hakka style tofu, and crab and pumpkin sauce over greens.
The boiled beef wasn't the straight szechuan prep I was expecting. There was a lot of peppercorn, but the broth had more of a curry / five spice slant. Meat quality was high. Not very spicy, but very bold taste. Would order again - actually, would be happy if I was stuck on a desert island for 10 years with nothing but this dish. Really tasty.
The next dish we got, I don't know if it was exactly what we ordered. There was a ring of brocolli, objects that looked like pig ears and tasted like tofu, scallops, shrimp, and a fairly basic brown sauce. A nice light dish, fresh tastes, but nothing special.
By the time the pumpkin crab green dish came (which was much later), we were, frankly, full. I took a bite of it and found the dish a bit low on taste, but after sucking down the majority of that beef dish, it's possible my taste buds were fried.
Service was slightly condesending to us round-eyes, but we were a friendly curiosity. I didn't try out any of my putonghua, and the owner came over and asked if we needed forks. We didn't even answer him - I didn't trust myself to say something polite, and he was clearly trying to get us to feel comfortable. Just to assert myself in chinese meals like that, I often negotiate for a better tea than the standard oolong, which gets me some cred.
Anyway - the food was good, but the scene was better. Price was excellent - we might have hit $50 with tip, and only ate half of what we ordered. The menu sprawls a bit, and it would take some eating to really get what the kitchen is good at.
279 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
Maybe try Patio Filipino or Kuya's near the airport for Filipino Food. Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland (almost in Emeryville) for waffles and fried chicken, or T-Rex (BBQ) in Berkeley.
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
Brown Sugar Kitchen
2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607
460 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066