Trying every San Francisco Chinese restaurant
William Eichinger, who has eaten at every San Franciscan Chinese joint, including Panda Express and the donut-hamburger Chinese food places all around town, rattles off his favorites:
Ask him his favorite Chinese restaurant - many people have - and you'll probably get a systematic breakdown of the myriad regional styles.
For fiery Sichuan cuisine, his favorite place is Z&Y in Chinatown; for dumpling-centric Shanghai fare, he likes Bund across the street; for northern regions, Old Mandarin Islamic in the Outer Sunset. For hand-pulled noodles in the Shantung style, his pick is San Dong. The list goes on.
Each genre has its own measuring stick. For example, ma po tofu is his gauge for Sichuan places.
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Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116
A bit random to try every one. But, it makes sense to have numerous sub-categories. China is an imperial nation, made up of different peoples with different cuisines. Trying to put them all in one category would be a bit like saying "European" food, when we know that French and German are pretty different.
I cannot imagine eating at Panda Express since developing a taste for decent food. Also, we all know they use meat stock for their rice and supposed veggie dishes, right?
Riverside in the Sunset was probably my most memorable Chinese experience. You have to love the fish served staring right at you, eyes and all. Seemingly eight million varieties of cold pig parts, and not a hint of sweet/sour pork or general tso.
A far braver man (and stomach) than I could ever pretend to be......
I spent almost 3 weeks in Shenzhen, Macau and HK 5 years ago, and other than dim sum, every meal was different and from a different region of China. I was nowhere close to finished sampling all that China has to offer when I left.
re: Eugene Park
True that on the bravery. Out of the supposedly 415 "Chinese" restaurants in SF, how many could we estimate serve virtually inedible food? I'd bet that you could draw a 2-mile diameter circle around 24th and Mission and fully half of the Chinese places in the circle would fall into this category. But maybe I'm being unfair to the steam table places...most of them terrify me too much to set foot inside and sample.