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May 13, 2011 02:40 PM

Things Asian, a cocktail, and OTG: Z&Y, Shanghai House, Shanghai Dumpling King, BC Deli, Olive, Lers Ros, Sankaku

We arranged a little meetup with mariacarmen and Caitlin McGrath for lunch on Thursday. davidkaplan stopped by to say hi, pick up takeaway and give us some ordering tips. We got la zi ji (explosive chicken), teatree mushrooms (on the Chinese menu only, apparently), tiger skin jalapenos, water boiled fish (fish in chili oil) and Sichuan cold noodles. We also received a small dish of pickles and cups of a very sweet corn/egg drop soup for a pretty reasonable $18 all in, with some leftovers for Caitlin. Apparently braised hot chilis make a fine breakfast :-). I think we all really liked the cold noodles which were lovely and firm, not too sweet and lightly sauced. Overall the heat level was medium with the odd extra blast, and the hua jiao not terribly in evidence in any of the dishes. I do like that numbing sensation and would have preferred a bit more of it. All the dishes were tasty and well prepared (see first five pix below).

On Friday, we met up with cynsa and her SO at Shanghai House to find out if the pork hock we had last year was really as good as we thought. Topnotch tea smoked duck and the aforementioned pork, which we all agreed was even better than last time, impressed. They seem to marinate it in soy sauce, then deep fry the great lovely thing and serve it with sweetened (!) deep fried seaweed. Ridiculously good. cynsa also preordered a whole fish for us (dang, which one was it?) which we all found a bit too sweet. We mopped up with an order of fried bread. A delightfully meaty repast which could only be followed by xiao long bao and egg puffs up the street at Shanghai Dumpling King, of course! The xlb were very well done, not too thick with a good “ball” and savoury soup inside. But the egg puffs were the star. I’ve never had a Shanghainese dessert quite like them, though some variations. Eat them as soon as they arrive on the table, even if it’s in the middle of your meal, for full effect.

Had some Vietnamese at BC Deli in Oakland which is covered in this post: Our one attempt to try banh mi in SF was foiled as Saigon Sandwich closed up early when we dropped by after the Bali exhibit at the Asian Museum on Sunday and we missed our chance.

After a satisfying stop at SFMOMA on Monday afternoon, it was time to head to the Tenderloin and Olive for a happy hour cocktail with osho, psb, pane and another friend. Damn, you SFers have it made with your happy hours! A whack of the house cocktails were only $5 till 7 pm though I went for a premium one and paid an extra dollar for the Hendrick’s. Listed on the menu as a gimlet though served with vodka (!), they had no problem with the switch back to the proper liquor ;-). Gin is my tipple of choice and I drink Plymouth when I’m at home but the Hendricks was very nice indeed. A great cocktail to pave the way for Thai food with the lime juice and basil leaf.

At 7:30 we crossed the street to Lers Ros. osho had some target dishes as did I and we quickly mashed them up for an appetizer-heavy order (the apps were what really impressed me the last time we went here for a Chowdown). We had duck larb (#25), herb sausage (#4), a shrimp paste fried rice off the specials board which the server translated for us, a spicy and sour pork soup (#31), the deservedly vaunted crispy pork belly (#62A), the pork shoulder (#9), yum woon sen (#21) and the salted egg papaya salad (#14). With jasmine rice for 3, a Thai iced tea and an iced coffee, a Singha, a Chang and an Anchor Steam this delightful repast came to just under $107 before tip for five people. Great value for really outstanding food.

My favourites were the pork belly, the som tam and the soup, though I’d order everything again, even the duck larb which though tasty lacked the ground-up-meat-with-rice-powder action that I associate with larb. The SO loved the sausage which I found a wee bit bland but with great texture. I will be hard pressed not to come back to Lers Ros on our next trip. Many thanks to our delightful dining companions. And speaking of lovely DCs, let me point you to where you can read about the A La Turca Chowdown that susancinsf organized for us. We really couldn’t have felt more welcomed by local Hounds. There’s already a post on our Off the Grid Fort Mason spree with mariacarmen here if you’re interested and haven’t seen it: Really good event.

Our last snack in the Bay Area was seaweed salad, edamame and a California roll from Sankaku at SFO Terminal 3. Useful recent article on the state of food offerings at SFO’s new terminal 2 here: though I understand Air Canada is moving to the International Terminal for a year, so my attempts to indulge may be foiled :-(.

Links to other reports for this trip: Coffee talk: Blue Bottle x2, Stella’s, Bicycle, Jane, Grand Prix, Ma*velous, Creamery, Sightglass plus beans

Double shot of pie: Pizzeria Delfina (Filmore) and Bao Necci/Danilo’s

Leary love: Canteen and House of Shields

Oakland adventure: Grand Lake FM, BC Deli, St. George’s/Hangar One

Burger (and beer) bonanza: Bix, Marlowe, Rosamunde/Toronado; random final day bites (post 5 of 6)

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  1. Great report - now i'm hungry and dinner's 2 hours away, at least.

    i didn't know you were going for happy hour in the Tenderloin! i work about a block away from Olive, coulda joined you. ah well, i got my little taste of the Grayelfs, which will have to do me until November.

    Re the airport: the International Terminal is home to Ebisu Sushi, which i hit every time on my early morning flights to Long Beach (Jetblue) a couple years ago. It's a pretty extensive menu, too, not just sushi (tho that's all i ever got - but Ramen, Soba, Curries, Katsu, etc. So, you're covered.

    Looks like November is already shaping up: Lers Ros and Delaney's (for saltenas!)

    San Francisco International Airport South San Francisco, CA, San Francisco International Airport South San Francisco, CA

    1. esteemed guest from beautiful B.C., have you tried the 'spicy pork shoulder' at China Village in Albany ? you might find that to your tastes.

      4 Replies
      1. re: moto

        Thanks moto -- that sounds like it would be right up my alley! I'd read the odd post on CV but never looked up where Albany actually is till now. We generally rely on transit when we visit, so will have to look into that.

        1. re: grayelf

          Next time maybe we should do a China Village chowdown.

          1. re: grayelf

            It's a pretty quick bus ride from downtown Berkeley BART to China Village if you're doing public transit.

            1. re: grayelf

              Near my dad's house, GE, so it would be very easy for Ruth and I to guide you there! I've only had a couple dishes there, loved them

          2. I feel like Asian Food i general is not as good on the west coast. Maybe I'm way off on this , but it always tastes like it's missing that one extra ingredient to make it delicious. Thoughts/

            2 Replies
            1. re: dessed7

              dessed7, have you been to China Village ? generally, they do not skimp on ingredients to take the dishes to a little more complex or seductive level. and you'd need to spend some time in greater metro LA/OC, or Vancouver,B.C. before coming to any conclusions about Chinese food -- there's a noodle/dumpling place in Rowland Hts, Orange County that plenty of folks from China and Taiwan go to regularly -- everything is made fresh to order.

              1. re: dessed7

                I'd say Cantonese is better on the West Coast; as well as Shanghainese. For other regional Chinese cuisines, you are right (there's no place as exciting as Flushing these days). And since you said "Asian," I'd also argue the West coast is stronger in Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese that I know of.