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Mar 23, 2011 11:24 PM

Dong Bei Mama : Formerly Panda Country Kitchen.

The owners of Panda Country Kitchen have a new chef and a new name..

The menu has been re-worked significantly as they brought in a chef from a small penninsula Dong Bei style restaurant. (Owner wouldn't say the name).
Looks like the new info isn't on yelp yet, and their old website is still up.

Huge selection of appetizers and cold dishes. They still retain a page for szechuan dishes.

Hopefully someone with pictures will post a better write-up soon!

We had:
"Duck Roll". This is a cold dish of duck meat that is rolled around sweet sausage, and separately egg yolk. It is then sliced thin, so each bite has duck and egg yolk, or duck and sausage.

Braised pork with yam noodle and corn cake.
This is a small wok like pot on a hot pot. (the owner said "like in the military"). It was a rich soup with cabbage, pork belly and thick chewy yam noodles. The corn cakes are like american dinner rolls crossed with cornbread.

Dry cooked green beans. A solid version of this ever present dish. really blistered. and no oil on the plate.

Cumin Lamb Ribs. We really liked these, but they may be too sweet for some people. not spicy at all. I loved the flavor. and the fat melted in the mouth yet they had crispy outsides.

Can't wait to go back, but first we have to finish the leftovers.

2 ladies near us had between 6 and 8 dishes... they seemed super excited about the food.
A group of mandarin speaking college kids had a table of all szechuan dishes. they looked really good, but I just can't handle the spice personally.

If someone doesn't beat me too it, i'll try and scan the menu at work tomorrow.
I want them to do better business than they did as panda country.... because this is some unusual stuff they have going on.

Panda Country Kitchen
4737 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

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  1. Very interesting! Wonder if they still have the same person cooking the Sichuan dishes or if this chef is more a substitution than an addition. The Sichuan stuff was some of the best in town along with Z&Y.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bigwheel042

      I am not entirely sure, but the way the (i assume) owner worded it, it sounded like a replacement chef. I can't imagine they would be able to afford 2 "chefs"... he mentioned they had just been breaking even before.
      I don't think this guy will disappoint.
      I noticed when the staff was eating, some of their rice bowls had big spoonfuls of szechuan peppercorns.

    2. We went tonight and enjoyed it for the most part. The only miss was the spicy pig ears, which were cut too thick so they turned out too chewy for us. I prefer Spices! version.

      Next up was the spicy crispy pig intestines, which was our favorite dish. It's served with bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, dried chilies, and sichuan peppercorns. The pig intestines were fried till dark and crispy, very nice texture.

      The napa and pork belly stew was nice but the broth was a bit flat. The clear noodles were nice, not sure if they were the yam ones kairo had. Pork belly was sliced thin, very tender, and went well with the stew. They also have this dish with lamb.

      Last were the steamed lamb dumplings served with black vinegar. I believe these were handmade because of the texture and the fact they came out last. The skins weren't too thick, just right, and the lamb flavor was light but paired well with the black vinegar.

      With 2 Heinekens, the bill was $41. I saw another table with wine.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DezzerSF

        Thanks for the review and pictures.
        Your pork belly cabbage pot looks a lot different. Ours was a dark rich broth, and long thick chewy noodles. The pork belly was in larger chunks.
        The fried intestines look crazy. i've never seen them so dark.

        1. re: kairo

          I think your pork belly pot must have been a different dish altogether. Ours was in the stew section of the menu. I'm eating the leftovers for breakfast and a little ponzu with the broth did the trick.

          I've never pork intestines so dark either, I'm wondering if they were marinated.

      2. Excellent chow-spotting and follow-up, guys. I paid attention when I drove by on Friday and noticed the bright red awning with the new name. So sorry I didn't have time to stop and give it a try.

        Dong Bei Mama
        4737 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

        1. What's really amusing is the Chinese name of the place, 鄉巴佬 which means Country Bumpkin!

          According to an ad in the Sing Tao newspaper, there is a mixed stir fry dish by that name. Looks to be some meat(?) and veg.

          Other dishes featured are 鴨腿松花蛋 which appears to be the duck rolls kairo mentioned. The duck meat is thigh. Also pictured in the ad is a mini hotpot (more like a mini wok) with corncakes on the edge 一鍋出 (various styles available), five spice pig head slices cold appetizer (very similar to Shanghainese restaurant pork cube jelly / Zhen Jiang Rou, like a terrine) and something called 艦絲餅 that looks more like a shredded scallion pancake.

          "The menu has been re-worked significantly as they brought in a chef from a small penninsula Dong Bei style restaurant. (Owner wouldn't say the name)."

          Can't remember where I read this, but I thought the chef came from Little Sichuan in San Mateo.
          There used to be a spectacular Dong Bei restaurant in San Mateo called Dong Bei House

          but they shuttered shortly after the chef got deported.

          6 Replies
          1. re: K K

            If the chef came from Little Sichuan, that would explain the excellent Chong Qing chicken wings we had.

            Little Sichuan
            168 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

            1. re: K K

              Hmmm... wonder if the Sing Tao ad is available on the web? Or other Chinese language write-up. We have a Chowdown there today and I would love to get a head start on the menu perusing. Oh, and I wonder if there will be other Chinese readers at our Chowdown as I am hoping the menu is not in Simplified or we will be in trouble.

              1. re: vliang

                The singtao ad was ridiculously small sized... not sure if there's one online. You can copy and paste the characters and translate it to shorthand just in case....but getting that duck roll should be easy, ditto for pickled sour cabbage pork belly pots which is another kind of must try item. I think SF regional Chinese restaurants are generally smart enough to use traditional characters on their menus (even at San Dong House BBQ), since the Cantonese speaking population typically reads traditional and are in much larger #s.

                Here's JK's SFWeekly writeup, and it looks like that's where I read the part where the chef came from Litle Sichuan


                The "happy family" mini wok w/corncakes is the Yi Guo Tsu 一鍋出, which is essentially taking entrees and compiling them onto the pot.

                There's an English menu online

                but doesn't list the duck rolls or anything else that may be related to Sing Tao's ad.

                I might not be able to get to this place to try it out until next month. We'll see...but looking forward to the chowdown reports :-).

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

                1. re: K K

                  No real need for being able to read Chinese here. There are a few odd translations, (1 item said 3 kinds of yam, yet had no yam at all. they have since corrected that) The cold plates are pretty clear, ( I ordered the duck roll, it just says Duck Roll) and if there are any questions you can go up and look at them. Just a couple of items with less descriptive names. like Dong Bei Pork, but the Chinese characters don't help with any explanation.
                  I believe they have 2 or 3 items listed on a dry erase board in the front, Chinese only.

                  And they are the same owners as San Dong House.... I asked the owner when I noticed the same waitress from over there. The owner is super nice. He said they are going to revamp San Dong House as well... he admitted the quality had gone down hill.

                  1. re: kairo

                    Interesting about the San Dong House connection. I agree the food is nothing extraordinary, but at least the hand made noodles themselves are pretty good. Everything else we sampled was passable to average otherwise.

                    Someone please take and upload a pic of the dry erase Chinese board tonight at DBMM/Country Bumpkin if they are listing anything. Curious what they have and can do.

                2. re: vliang

                  I went back last month and had a few more dishes, most misses.

                  The sizzling cumin lamb was too saucy and didn't have enough cumin flavor. In fact, it didn't even taste like lamb.

                  The chicken and salt fish casserole? served over a burner at the table was on the bland side, only a hint of the salt fish flavor. It also comes with tofu.

                  We wanted to try one of the Dong Bei specialties, so we went with Dong Bei pork. These were thin slices of pork with a sweet batter that we hardly touched.

                  But the five spices pig head was a nice cold starter and our favorite dish during this visit was the Chong Qing chicken wings.

              2. As I write this I'm finishing the leftovers from last night's visit to DBM; just the two of us, so not much chance to sample many dishes.
                Our problem is that my SO does not eat meat. Besides the many pork dishes, the whiteboard trumpets the "chef's specials" -- all lamb. I don't read Chinese but we were there early, the place was not busy, so I asked the nice older lady server/owner to translate the whiteboard. So, although I am a pork and lamb fan myself, we selected other foods. (on preview, the wife points out to me that the "older lady" is younger than I am).
                We started with a cold dish, tofu "noodles". It was bland, we've had better. I can't find this on the menu -- it was in the cold case at the rear of the place. They had some nice looking "smoked fish" in that case (labeled A8 on the menu: $5.89), but it was a large plate and they would not give us a half order. By the way, portions are HUGE. All the people at other tables were taking home their leftovers.
                Then just two main courses:
                From the Hot-Pot section E8: Salted Fish with Chicken, Eggplant ($8.89)
                From the Szechuan section L12: Mixed Mushroom In Dry Wok ($10.89)
                Both dishes were presented in small steel woks over open flames.

                I liked the chicken/eggplant dish a lot. The salted fish flavor was in the background, and the flavors were well-balanced. The mushroom dish was medium spicy, with both Ma-La and hot chili pepper. Both dishes were loaded with oil. The burners underneath kept the oil from congealing, though.
                Someone posted that they were related to San Dong; now I see the relationship -- the menu is divided up into lettered sections, then numbered within each section. Also as at San Dong, the older staff spoke English well, but one young busboy clearly had no English.

                Service was cheerful but a bit random. We went early and it was not busy, so it was not much of an issue.

                Corkage is $6, and the wineglasses were tiny brandy snifters.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Joel

                  E8 sounds like a dish (or clay pot) of Cantonese origin that can be readily found any any Cantonese restaurant in town. I've also seen many non Cantonese Chinese restaurants offer beef chow fun on the menu (also Cantonese), probably to broaden the appeal.

                  I had the same tofu noodles cold dish at San Dong House and didn't particularly like it either. They too also have a similar setup (you pick the cold case appetizers you want or in a combo dish of 3).

                  1. re: K K

                    KK, when the chowdown post go up you will have a picture of the white board. The dinner was a hit with me. I am glad there was heat and hot but not so high that I could not taste the food itself.