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Recommended Chinese restaurants on Clement St [San Francisco]

t
TenderNob Jun 19, 2013 07:28 PM

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.

  1. j
    Joel Jun 20, 2013 04:12 PM

    China First is our favorite.
    336 Clement St
    (between 4th Ave & 5th Ave)
    San Francisco, CA 94118
    (415) 387-8370
    We've never gotten the expensive seafood dishes, but our favorites are:
    roast duck
    pea leaves with garlic
    fish porridge
    clay pot with fish and tofu (we substitute rock cod for the catfish for an extra charge)
    steamed catfish
    salt-and-pepper smelt
    pumpkin with dried shrimp and ham
    steamed eggs (various preparations)
    clams in black bean sauce (or in the steamed eggs)

    Their corkage charge is apparently zero.
    It is somewhat of a dive, with bathrooms that are very funky; also it's quite cold in winter -- everyone dines with their winter coats on.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Joel
      Sarah Jun 20, 2013 05:51 PM

      We usually go for lunch and like -
      the free House soup (wkdays only I think)
      s&p chicken wings
      beef stew gon lo won ton
      pork belly (kau yuk) dish
      Will try the duck and claypot next time.

      1. re: Joel
        s
        superbigeater Jun 29, 2013 07:56 AM

        Yes, China First is a great place to eat. My folks believe its one of the better places on Clement to eat.

      2. Robert Lauriston Jun 20, 2013 12:59 PM

        How's Taishan these days?

        1. h
          hyperbowler Jun 20, 2013 11:50 AM

          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.

          1. possumspice Jun 20, 2013 09:47 AM

            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
              Civil Bear Jun 20, 2013 12:54 PM

              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. pane Jun 20, 2013 09:18 AM

              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
                grayelf Jun 20, 2013 03:53 PM

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

              2. b
                bigwheel042 Jun 19, 2013 09:40 PM

                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
                  Melanie Wong Jun 19, 2013 09:56 PM

                  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
                    b
                    bigwheel042 Jun 19, 2013 11:03 PM

                    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
                      Melanie Wong Jun 19, 2013 11:24 PM

                      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
                        b
                        bigwheel042 Jul 1, 2013 05:47 AM

                        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
                          baron45 Jul 1, 2013 10:55 AM

                          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
                      Cynsa Jun 20, 2013 12:09 AM

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

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