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Apr 5, 2013 11:43 PM

Chowdown Report: Ming Kee in San Francisco

Today, ten chowhounds (including 3-year-old Ivo) gathered for lunch at Ming Kee to get our fill before it shuts down and decamps from Irving Street. We had a mix of items from the barbecue side of the menu and the wok station.

From the barbecue station:
Boon fei so char siu
Half a roast goose

Wok dishes:
Salt and pepper pork jowl with green beans
Sauteed filet of rock cod with mixed fresh mushrooms
Shrimp stuffed tofu with black bean sauce and broccoli
Chinese style beef steak with longan fruit
Hong Kong style fried spareribs
Sauteed prawns with high mountain tea leaf
Peking spareribs
Pea shoots with garlic sauce

We lucked out in getting the roast goose today. I’d asked yesterday when I stopped by to reserve the table if it might be available and only got a shrug.

The first three dishes listed from the wok were from the whiteboard. This was my third time ordering the pork jowl (shoulder) dish and it was again my favorite of the line-up.

“sfpizzalover” treated us to her homemade chocolate truffle cookies and the fabulously butter-laden Momofuku corn cookies. I brought the 2005 von Hövel Scharzhofberger Kabinett Riesling and the last of my stash of Dewar’s chews from Bakersfield to share.

With steamed rice, tax and a generous tip, our tab came to $14 each for the nine adults.

My dining companions --- what say you?

Masterful Stir Fries at Ming Kee – Hurry, Closing April 15 (San Francisco)

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  1. last day April 14

    2191 Irving St
    San Francisco, CA 94122
    (415) 731-9948

    1. agreed; my fave on the table was the pork shoulder/jowl with green beans - thank you, Melanie, for organizing; thanks to the 'hounds for another chowtastic afternoon.

      Take home the roast goose and the Boon fei so char siu (half lean/half fat) before April 14, it will be late June or early July before the build-out on Ocean Avenue will be home again to the original Happy Bakery and Deli
      1548 Ocean Ave
      San Francisco, CA 94112

      random pix here
      (Hong Kong Spareribs in bottom row)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cynsa

        That char siu looks amazing, and I envy you the goose! Just looking at the pictures I can see the care in the preparation. The pea shoots, for example, haven't been left in pieces too long to eat gracefully!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          We gobbled up everything but left a portion or so of the pea shoots behind. This seemed to freak out one of the lady servers who kept muttering to herself that we had not finished them. She seemed to be alarmed and I thought she was going to have a melt down.

          They were handled well, but I picked up a flavor that tasted like chicken base powder that I didn't care for.

      2. One more vote for the succulent pork shoulder with green beans and sliced jalapenos. This dish alone is worth a trip to Ming Kee (before it closes). It was well seasoned, appropriately fatty, salty, and delicious.
        The mixed mushrooms with rock cod and baby shrimp was subtle. It was best appreciated on the plate by itself, without allowing any of the flavors from the other dishes at the table to interfere.
        As expected, barbecue rules at this restaurant. The char siu and roast goose did not disappoint
        Many thanks and a happy birthday to Melanie. It was a great sampling of food from Ming Kee.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sfpizzalover

          Your cookies were fabulous, thanks again.

          The interesting thing about this meal is that each dish, including some that I felt were weaker, had somebody stick up for it. So, I guess that speaks to the overall strength of the offering at Ming Kee. I liked the rock cod dish. A little too much cornstarch, but on the other hand, lovely slippery texture to the fish filets. I couldn't think of the name of the large white mushroom in the dish at the time . . . it's bai ling.

        2. Thanks for a great report. That pork jowl (from pics in your other thread) looks ridiculously good, I may have to grab some next weekend.

          3 Replies
          1. re: stravaigint

            That it is! The textures, aromas, flavors, all so good. When you have the chance, take a close look at the pork slices. They're sort of crescent shape.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Great success, pig cheeks consumed!

              I showed up at opening time yesterday morning and had to wait a little because the chef doesn't usually start cooking until 10am (only BBQ is available at 9:30). The auntie and grandma that work there were both highly amused at my order. The jowl was truly delicious, just the right spiciness. Thanks for the recommendation.

              1. re: stravaigint

                Glad you got to try it! I was there a little after 11am yesterday myself, so I guess we just missed each other.

          2. Thanks to Melanie for organizing, and to Cynsa for posting the beautiful photos!

            I too thought the pork jowl with green beans was the best dish, and it would be the thing I return for. The meat was thin and tender, and almost reminded me of shwarema meat. The green beans were still crisp, and not at all greasy. This was some very successful stir-frying.

            I thought the sweeter dishes were well-prepared, but I probably wouldn't rush back for any of them. I thought the fish and mushroom dish was a little *too* subtle and bland, though I suppose this could be because I had other flavors lingering in my mouth and on my plate.

            The roast goose was excellent, with moist meat and a nice 5-spice flavor. Char siu was good too, and this was some of the best Chinese BBQ meat I've ever tried.

            I liked the shrimp dish, though the shrimp themselves were a bit overcooked. But the tea leaves added a slight smoky flavor that I liked. Vegetables and stuffed tofu were both ordinary but well-prepared.

            Definitely a good deal for the amount of food we consumed, and I'll definitely be checking out their roast meats once they open back up on Ocean Ave.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dave MP

              I agree that the prawns were overcooked, such a shame, as the previous time I had it, the dish was perfect and my second favorite overall right behind the pork jowl-n-beans. I was probably the last to help myself from the plate and noticed that there weren't any fresh green basil leaves left. Had there been any at all? That flavor/aroma adds so much to the dish. Oh, the owner (who waited on us) mentioned that the tea leaves are oolong.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Do you know the origin of the shrimp and tea leaves dish? I read about it here and then saw an analogous item on the menu at Fey in Menlo Park.

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  If you're referring to the green tea shrimp mentioned in the Fey thread, that's probably a different dish known as Dragonwell shrimp or 龍井蝦仁 (long jing xia ren). Dragonwell is the green tea from Hangzhou in the same region as Shanghai.

                  When I saw the dish on Ming Kee's menu, I had thought it might be a variant. But no, besides using oolong rather than green tea, it's a completely a different prep. The high mountain tea (kaoshan cha or highlands tea) dish recalls Taiwanese Hakka cooking to me.

                  Lily's House in Lafayette makes (or made) a wonderful version of Dragonwell tea shrimp, if you're interested in trying it.