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Recommended Chinese restaurants on Clement St [San Francisco]

Looking for a good place for an early dinner on Clement. I'd prefer Sichuan or Hunan (not Spices) but I think my companion is more into Cantonese. Good food is more important than regional cuisine. And maybe not Chinese, if there is a strong recommendation for something else.

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  1. I don't think there are any Hunan places at all in the Richmond. Hunan Cafe on Cabrillo has it in the name but IIRC serves almost entirely the usual Americanized fare.

    Is one block away on Geary out of the question? I would eat at Sichuan Home before a lot of the Chinese restaurants on Clement. Friends have reported that Dong Bei Mama still makes good Sichuan dishes despite the changeover to a northeastern theme.

    Non-Sichuan Chinese places in the neighborhood I like: Five Happiness, Hong Kong Lounge
    Haven't tried but will eventually: D&A Cafe, Mayflower, Denny's Cafe

    6 Replies
    1. re: bigwheel042

      Didn't Mayflower close?

      Denny's Cafe is superior to D & A Cafe, but it's been a few years since I've been to either. They're cha chaan teng's or HK style coffee houses.

      I like Five Happiness too.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Huh, so it did. *crosses off list* Thanks for the heads-up.

        Did not realize D&A was considered a cha chaan teng, a term which I associated with a predominance of Westernized HK dishes (spaghetti, weird creamy sauces with seafood, etc.) a la T-28 or Tak Kee Lee. Learn something new every day.

        It's kind of surprising there are so many Cantonese restaurants in the Richmond with mediocre reputations. Rarely does the likes of China First, D&A, Family Fortune, or any of the sit-down dim sum joints on Clement get mentioned here these days.

        1. re: bigwheel042

          D & A has some of those Western-style dishes, the full beverage complement, and then mostly Canto snack-y things, if IIRC. Yes, there's plenty of Chinese dreck on Clement. It's not uncommon to hear folks repeat that the quality is better on Clement than in Chinatown, but when pressed not be able to provide specifics.

          Here's the old thread on Denny's Cafe.
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/349774

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Tried both D&A and Denny's on successive days this weekend.

            D&A: ordered the beef macaroni in broth plus gai lan in oyster sauce. The latter was pretty good, mostly tender spears of the vegetable despite being quite thick. I need to up my game in blanching/steaming vegetables to get them nice and green like this while not undercooking. The macaroni was...I have no idea what the gold standard of cha chaan teng macaroni dishes is, so it's hard to render judgment, but the beef quality was suspect, they used canned peas/carrots, and the whole thing needed a fair amount of salt to taste like anything.

            Denny's: Had the "codfish" in black bean sauce chow fun. Tasty enough but I suspect there was not enough wok hei to satisfy an expert. A yelper reports an ownership change and sure enough, the ABC sign is in the window dated 5/31/13. They have also cut their hours back to close at 10:30pm daily, so I can't really see a reason to return here.

            1. re: bigwheel042

              Restaurants tend to deep fry the veggies for about 30 seconds so that they cook quickly (i.e. semi-crunchy yet not undercooked or soggy).

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Shai Lai Seafood Restaurant
          replaced Mayflower December 2012
          6255 Geary Blvd
          (between 26th Ave & 27th Ave)
          San Francisco, CA 94121

      2. A strong non-Chinese recommendation would be Mandalay on 6th and California, just a block from Clement, if that appeals to your palate. I live near enough to the Inner Richmond to visit frequently, and Mandalays' probably my most reliable pick when I'm meeting other people for dinner.

        I like the B Star Bar, the Burma Superstar spin-off, better for brunch than for dinner; otherwise, the places in that general neighborhood that I like best are Korean tofu soup places nearer the Geary corridor.

        I also like Five Happiness though on a recent visit the duck wasn't as good as it had been the other 3-ish times I went, and while I used to like the beef noodle soup at San Dong House but it's not good any more--I think I read that there was a kitchen change-up and the noodles are no longer hand-pulled.

        Completely not along the lines of what you're asking, but the pork schnitzel at Cafe Europa, the newish Eastern European place on 5th and California, is spectacular.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pane

          Woot on the schnitzel rec, pane. On my list...

        2. For Sichuan, you could try the newish Chili House, by the Z&Y team. Not as good as Z&Y, but there are some solid dishes. The group I went with was particularly enamored with the spicy wontons.

          1 Reply
          1. re: possumspice

            I'll second Chili House. Their Dan Dan noodles satisfy my fix every time.

            The OP said no to Spices, but if only referring to the acutely-casual and cramped Spices at 8th, then Spices II at 6th may be worth consideration (fried garlic crab is awesome).

            China First is good for shrimp dishes as they have a live tank, but you have to be willing put up with greasy tables and restrooms.

            Q has some interesting twists on comfort food.

            In the outer Richmond there is Hard Knox for their fried chicken and PPQ Dungeness for Viet Crab & garlic noodles.

          2. Where on Clement? I assume you mean the Inner Richmond?

            No great Cantonese places come to mind, but I'd be interested in checking out suggestions as well.

            Melanie makes an interesting point about the rumors that the Richmond is better than Chinatown--- it's also somewhat of an uneven comparison given how big the Richmond is. Despite a ton of Chinese restaurants and markets, I think the best reasons to go to the Richmond are the large number of Eastern European markets and bakeries, 3 Burmese restaurants (Mandalay, Burma Superstar, and Pagan), and tons of Shabu Shabu restaurants. Japanese Kappou Gomi is a gem.

            I haven't been to Five Happiness (Shanghainese+) for dinner in years, but I liked a recent Chinese breakfast and enjoyed their dinner in the past a few times.

            Good wings at Tenglong : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888814

            Fairly new Chili House has the same owners as Z & Y. Not a lot of reports since they first opened. North China restaurant has lots of Shanghainese on the menu, but no reports here so far.

            I've had lackluster meals at Sichuan Home, Old Shanghai, Taste of Formosa, & Xiao Long Bao. Ordering the more "Chinese" dishes at Mandalay or Singapore Malaysian Restaurant is a recipe for disappointment.