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Sep 14, 2010 04:47 PM

San Dong House -- hand pulled noodles and more in the Inner Richmond [San Francisco]

In the last couple of years I've developed a passion for freshly hand-pulled noodles (la mian), mostly consumed in Shanghai and New York. I was ecstatic, therefore when gourmand buddy Al Cheng tipped me off to a new restaurant on Geary between Arguello and 2nd serving noodles hand pulled to order, and headed there at the first possible opportunity, which was lunch today.

The restaurant is San Dong House BBQ, (Lu Wei Wang in Chinese) in the space formerly occupied by a Korean BBQ restaurant. Sure enough, they offered 18 varieties of "San Dong Hand Pull Noodle" with the noodle chef doing his thing in plain sight of the dining area. The expansive menu also includes (as might be expected from the name) eight varieties of boiled dumplings (shui jiao) and a staggering 22 varieties of skewer sticks, including relatively exotic fare like duck gizzard, chicken heart, lamb kidney, and duck tongue skewers. The "family style" dishes sections of the menu also is well peppered with offal-based entrees, and the "vegetables" section of the menu includes two different stinky tofu dishes.

Despite all the many temptations, I was there to vet the noodles, and I selected the simply-named beef noodles for benchmarking puroses. The noodles were perfection, just the right thickness, bite, and chewyness to my taste. The broth was beefy, but monochromatic and a bit too salty; it benefited from a dash of chili paste. The beef was lean cubes, a little on the chewy side. I'd choose a fattier topping the next time. Overall, it was a very satisfying bowl, credit going to the noodles themselves, and I'll be back often to try more noodle dishes and other sections of the menu.

Other features: Drinks include draft beer by the glass or pitcher; open until 3:00 AM 7 Days

San Dong House BBQ
3741 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Avenue
SF CA 94118

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  1. Whew, when I saw Geary at 2nd I nearly had a heart attack thinking that To Hyang had closed, but they're actually replacing Teo, which never seems to have gotten much praise.

    Do you remember the price of your beef noodle bowl?

    To Hyang
    3815 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

    3741 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

    1 Reply
    1. re: bigwheel042

      It was $6.99, which seemed a little steep. That's a good $2.00 more than a similar bowl in NY, though I think the bowl was a bit larger at San Dong House. All the la mian dishes were priced the same, and I suspect the menu prices will go through some fine tuning.

    2. Hand-pulled only, or other handmade varieties like knife-shaved (dao xiao mien) as well? Thanks.

      1 Reply
      1. re: david kaplan

        Only hand-pulled on the menu at the moment, though the noodle chef may have other skills.

      2. went in for lunch today. I got the Zha jiang mian. I liked the noodles quite a bit. Definitely chewy. The meat sauce was a bit salty... but i think it almost always is and i've had it in a variety of restaurants and countries.
        i almost forgot, it came with a side of broth. Which was really strange tasting. I tasted almost no meat flavor at all. tasted more like the water that everything got blanched in. so it tasted mostly of bok choy, which is probably my least favorite vegetable. It had another unique flavor to it that I could not place.
        The previous review mentioned it being Beefy. well this was not.

        The menu has already changed. I got one in the morning, and apparently it was an old one, because a good 20 dishes had been removed in the menu at lunch including most of the offal selections.
        The waitress was really frazzled and spoke no more english than #'s... I wanted to ask about the missing dishes, but kept almost ordering stuff accidentally. I'll hopefully bring translation help next time.

        I got 1 order of the lamb skewer, as the guy next to me got a really good looking skewer. The waitress picked it up to bring to me, but apparently changed her mind and left it at the counter where i watched it a few minutes. I eventually went up and got it, as another customer suggested. Maybe she was hesitating because it was a mess-up, because it was not Lamb. it was really really oily pork. I think they brushed the meat with chili oil before grilling it. or maybe even after they grilled it. Next time i'll ask for no oil as there were other spices on it that would have been sufficient.

        The noodle man was yelling at the waitress at times and that was a bit awkward. Good amount of customers were in around 230pm today. Some of which seemed pretty anxious about the service, including lots of walking up to the counter to ask for checks and the occasional grabbing menus or food.

        I think the place has a lot of promise, though i'm sad about some of the menu omissions (chestnut with spare ribs for example).

        2 Replies
        1. re: kairo

          The broth you got as a side probably is served with all the "dry" noodles. It sounds like one I would have preferred with my noodles, a clear Lanzhou style that derives all of its flavor from the added ingredients. My beef noodle broth was so beefy and salty it was like a bouillon, and almost overwhelmed the noodles the way heavy-handed ramen broths do.

          Do you think the items excised from the menu are still available, just not on the English menu? If so, perhaps I'll scan and post the "uncensored" menu from yesterday.

          1. re: soupçon

            About the menus: That is what I am wondering. I wasn't able to get my question across... eventually when I pointed to the list of 19 pork items on 1 menu and 13 on the other the girl said "gone".
            Seems like the kind of place where, if they have the ingredients, and you ask nicely, they'll make it. They just might not have frog, stomach or broad beans on hand all the time.

        2. Thanks for the writeup! This place looks great, and offers an alternative to King of Noodles and San Tung which is way too crowded. Interesting that they are offering offal dishes in addition to what looks like Xinjiang style spicy skewers (lamb / yang rou chuan).

          I'm curious though how their beef noodle soup and boiled dumplings stack up with San Tung. As much as there is a lot of hate for ST (and love), it is still my golden standard. San Tung's beef noodles, the broth and beef/flank/tendons are marinated in 5 spice powder, and it sounds like San Dong House's version is not so?

          Do they have the spicy dried fried honey chicken wings here as well?

          King of Noodles
          1639 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA

          San Dong House BBQ
          3741 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

          2 Replies
          1. re: K K

            I ordered the "Beef Noodles Soup" (actually listed in Chinese as "red-cooked" beef noodle soup). They also list a "Beef Tendon Noodles Soup" which I didn't try, so I don't know how it compares to San Tung's version.

            The only chicken wings I found on the menu were under the skewers section. so I doubt that they're dry fried.

            Incidentally, I found out the owners of record are an LLC called "Lanzhou Noodles LLC" (registered back in January) so I assume that the hand-pulled noodles are the intended focus and the rest of the menu is subject to modification. Personally, I'd like to see them pare back the menu to just noodle dishes, dumplings and other small eats, with perhaps a few token "family style" dishes.

            1. re: K K

              I noticed chicken wings under the meat section, not sure if they're dry fried though. The house special chicken turned out to be Sichuan chicken wings with the dried chiles a la Spices.

              We got the pork with sour vegetable noodle soup and bean paste sauce pork noodles. The noodles were nice and chewy but the soup broth tasted like won ton base, not much acidity to the dish either. The bean paste was a little bit better, but I've had better.

              We tried the pork with napa cabbage dumplings, which were nice with the black vinegar. They were cooked fine, some of the dumplings had corn in them.

              We ordered shen jian bao (they also have xiao long bao), but were told they ran out so we ordered the fried "smelly" tofu. The tofu cubes are served up plain, fried nicely. Their version wasn't as pungent as I've had, and it's served with a sweetish dark sauce, with hints of ginger. This would be a good introduction to those who haven't this dish before.

              I also noticed spicy fried intestines on the menu, which we were curious about.

            2. Went back tonight to try some different items. The menu has changed for at least the 3rd time. Still more things removed, but some new ones added (Goat Stomach and intestine soup: so you know they aren't skimping on exotics).

              Got the "Dailu Noodles". little shrimps, pork, chicken in an egg drop type soup. We were pretty happy with it, but it is definitely nice and plane. Noodles still tasty.

              We also got lamb dumplings, which were really undercooked. We asked about them and were told they were fine, and very fresh. The table next to us had similarly cooked dumplings, so I am wondering if this is just a specific style? I've had lamb dumpling at a lot of places and never had them with the meat cooked rare. I'm a bit more squeemish than most about this, but they did taste pretty good.... very rich and kind of creamy.
              A lot of people were really over ordering, it was almost comical. It is fun to see people excited about a place.