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Dishes w/ tongue in the Bay Area

In the conversation around what makes a DOTM (ingredient vs. dish), I wondered about tongue (ingredient), as it appears in a variety of cuisines.

Melanie Wong replied with a great list of examples:

"duck tongue tacos, duck tongue tempura, Maggi duck tongues, five-spice duck tongues, barbecued pork tongue, lengua en salsa, Japanese grilled beef tongue, Chinese fried dough pastry called cow tongue, bollito misto, Persian lamb tongue in saffron, corned tongue, headcheese, veal tongue in aspic, pickled tongue..."

And suggested I start a new discussion thread on the topic. Which I'm doing!

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  1. On the Specials board at Pacific Court Cafe: slices of beef tongue are offered with gravy and plated with lamb, pork, or fish fillet. It's not on the menu.
    Otherwise, my go-to is the lengua taco or lengua chilaquiles.

    Lengua is Wednesday's Special at La Perla in South San Francisco - they moved to 222 Lux Avenue.


    I'm lunching on lengua tacos today:
    Taqueria Castillo B
    86 McAllister St
    (between 7th St & Leavenworth St)
    9 am to 10:45 pm

    3 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        hmmm... good, generous with diced tongue - tender and soft.

      2. re: Cynsa

        La Perla name change: La Nueva Perla (new owners)
        222 Lux Avenue, South San Francisco

        Lengua plate on Wednesday's Special $9.95
        large slices of tender tongue with tomatoes; rice, beans, green salad - wonderful thick, fresh homemade tortillas.

      3. B-Dama in Oakland has had both beef tongue skewers and beef tongue stew on their menu

        1 Reply
        1. Maykadeh has two or three tongue dishes.

          Tribune Tavern has a great tongue appetizer.

          Smoked tongue is often on the charcuterie plate at Cafe Rouge.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Fifth Quarter (Berkeley FM) also offers a delectable smoked tongue.

          2. Kiraku in Berkeley has a few Beef Tongue dishes that are very good.
            HopScotch has it on their Burger

            6 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              Have had two of their tongue dishes. One of them is whole tongue sliced and served with truffle seasoning. Was too rare for me. The other is grilled tongue skewers. This dish I loved.

              1. re: Ridge

                I love the sliced Tongue dish with Truffle Oil as well as the many Folks that taken there, but to each their own. It has always been cooked a little beyond Medium Rare in my experience.

                1. re: chefj

                  Night we had it, it was pretty rare and chewey. Have a feeling it was a rare off night there because a couple of other dishes were not as good as usual.

                  1. re: Ridge

                    Sounds like it. I do not think I have had a bad dish there.

                    1. re: chefj

                      same here - huge fan of that sliced tongue dish at Kiraku, and also the Hopscotch burger, which i had again last night.

                2. re: Ridge

                  I think we had the grilled tongue but it wasn't on skewers, rather in slices. Unfort for us it was chewy and not a great texture. We've never had tongue served that way.

              2. Soy sauce pig tongue (takeout).
                I buy many whole tongues, freeze them for later inhalation -- microwave reheat. As I recall about $6 per pound.
                My favorite place in Oakland is Yung Kee:
                888 Webster St
                corner of 9th Street
                Oakland, CA 94607
                (510) 839-2010
                Other places sell barbecued tongue, but I prefer the unctuous goodness of braised ones. The BBQ tongue is sometimes dried out.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Joel

                  At Nijiya Market yesterday, the thinly slice tongue was $18.99 lb.
                  1737 Post Street, San Francisco.

                  1. re: Joel

                    thanks for the Yung Kee tip. do you happen to know the Cantonese name for the dish ?

                    1. re: moto

                      I don't need names -- I just point to the items in the tray (at Yung Kee). They have tongue every time I've been there (it's in the same tray as the stomach). I usually buy all that they have on hand.

                      If I am sitting down for dinner (never been to YK for dinner, this happens at other places) and they don't understand English -- which is rare -- I just point to the appropriate part on my anatomy. One time I ordered intestine, and the cook emerged from the kitchen to gawk at me; he couldn't believe that someone of the Caucasian persuasion had ordered intestine.

                      1. re: moto

                        Sei Gee Lee Like Char Sei for BBQ pork. But all you will need is Gee Lee unless they have five spice pork tongues. Well I am making myself hunger. So off to the freezer to find something to eat.

                        1. re: yimster

                          grazie, yimster. the joys of Cantonese (and some Hakka of course) names for all the pork dishes, the non-fluent would not know all the preparations are pig/pork based -- no shared words between the terms. pai gwut, char shu, foh yuk, gee lee ....at least lop yuk can be filed in the vicinity of foh yuk and lop ahp (duck). the 'gee' in gee lee is the same word in 'gee ghurk', pig's feet ?

                          1. re: moto

                            Gee in Cantonese means something that is pork. To answer your question yes.

                      2. re: Joel

                        I usually go to Gum Kuo for Cantonese deli items like pig tongue and intestines; they take credit card too! Is Yung Kee a better option?

                      3. I always get the lengua tacos at the Toynayense trucks in the Mission. Also, the lengua tacos at Taqueria Vallerta on 24th near Harrison has great ones from the "vapor" thing.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: srr

                          I also have tried the lengua tacos at Vallarta on 24th and they are good, though I prefer the buche and suadero tacos there.

                        2. The hamburger at Hopscotch in Oakland comes with tongue

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: chefj

                              :-P (emoticon sticking out tongue)

                              :-J (tongue in cheek)

                          1. Braised beef tongue at Incanto

                            1. Last night, my fiance brought me sliced Tongue and Blood cold cuts from Lucca.

                              It is *amazing* and if the camera in my phone worked, I would post a picture because it is also gorgeous looking; the tongue is on the inside and the blood-pudding portion frames the slices.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Lucca, Italy, or one of the SF delis named Lucca?

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    Thanks, I'll be sure to pick up some next time I'm in the area.

                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      have you had this again, Carrie, since last year? i'm going to go by tomorrow and see if they have it....

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        I'm afraid not. As often as I walk past it, I have always done so in the evening after they have closed...

                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                          yeah, i'm a block away, but saturday days are best for me - and i scored! it is delicate, and left a slight film on my tongue. i liked it, bought 1/4 lb. dude waiting on me didn't know what it was called - just blood and tongue. i'm going to google it.

                                          eta: zungenwurst, German. i'm on my cell so i couldn't copy the wiki link.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            also, it has a very light touch of a cinnamon flavor. very nicely done.

                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                              So glad you enjoyed it - now I'm craving some!

                                1. Chaac Mool makes great lengua tacos. You can catch up with their food cart on weekends at Fort Mason, or Thursday evenings at Mission Mercado

                                  1. Taqueria Guadalajara in Healdsburg makes one of my favorite tongue tacos. Soft, but not too soft or squishy, and great salsas.

                                    1. There was sliced beef tongue for grilling at Gyu-Kaku when I went this weekend. They had regular tongue and "premium" tongue. It tasted like chewier beef in the end :)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bobabear

                                        Ooh, could you please say more about Gyu-Kaku? It's been high on my list to try but haven't managed to get there yet. Thanks!

                                        Gyu-Kaku opening in Cupertino

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I just posted in that other thread about Gyu-kaku! Hope it helps :)

                                      2. Aquitaine had a good cold tongue sort of salad as an off-menu special yesterday. Excellent dressing with a hint of mustard, not overpowering.

                                        1. I just had the grilled beef tongue (actually slow-cooked, then lightly cured to a mild corned beef like flavor, then grilled) dish at Bar Tartine. Outstanding. Came with some nice vegetables (one was gai lan) that paired nicely with the richness of the tongue and the burned bread sauce.

                                          1. Ajito in Cupertino (izakaya) does an awesome grilled beef tongue

                                            Dan Izakaya (San Jose) has two beef tongue dishes, can't remember the difference between them. Not bad, but not as great as Ajito

                                            Gochi (Cupertino and Mountain View) has grilled beef tongue and a stewed version (gyu-tan kakuni) that is done like a very wet light gravy osso bucco. I prefer the kakuni prep by far.

                                            Café Bakery and Restaurant on Noriega is a HK style western restaurant, but compared to Hong Kong, rough around the edges. However they do the absolute best HK style tomato sauce beef tongue (it's more like baked ketchup). Great texture and not burnt or charred like other places.

                                            The maggi duck tongue (complete with lower jaw and connectors) at Cooking Papa is pretty greasy but delicious. The tongue is the best part...the lower jaw is quite fatty.

                                            Kazu (sushi) on Irving once had a miso grilled beef tongue nigiri. A bit whack but tasted quite decent.

                                            Sakae in Burlingame once served a stewed miso beef tongue, very good (and quite pricey).

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: K K

                                              I've never tried gyutan kakuni at Gochi. Is that better than Kappo Nami Nami's version? Yet have to try their new location in Mountain View to see how it compares to their original restaurant.

                                              1. re: vincentlo

                                                Actually I've never been to KNN for dinner, so I don't have that baseline of comparison. Gochi's (MV) cut of tongue is thicker where it is almost cooked to the texture of beef stew (like the texture of shank).

                                              2. re: K K

                                                sakae still serves the stewed miso beef tongue (for anyone who is interested)

                                                this is a great thread sundeck sue, going to bookmark it

                                                1. re: sparkerly

                                                  Wow I didn't know that. Is Sakae's miso gyutan any good? I guess I always focus on sushi when I'm there.

                                                  1. re: vincentlo

                                                    haha I liked it! haven't ordered it recently, I have just been eating straight sushi :) I just noticed your profile, your best meal was at sakae before they moved?

                                                    1. re: sparkerly

                                                      If I don't specify, Hiro-san at Sakae usually charges me $30-40 for a sushi dinner, not including the most expensive fish but perhaps a piece of fancy toro if he's also prepping a big chunk for heavy spenders. One time I noticed one of the Japanese consuls was there and was having a feast with his friend. I looked at the board and I knew Sakae charges blue fin otoro and real Japanese beef at $30 a pair. I asked Hiro-san how much a fancy meal like what they were having would cost, and he said $150 a head. Would you guys consider that a reasonable price these days? Actually I talked to Hiro-san about the $30/pair price and if folks would still absorb this kind of price tag, and he told me with a sad face that he wasn't really making a profit even at that price.

                                              3. We had duck jaws, including the tongue, at Shai Lai Seafood in SF, though I don't recommend this dish.

                                                1. How about the marinated tongue which is served at Basque restaurants? Who does the best job on that? Good: marinade permeates the meat. Bad: it's just tossed in "Italian dressing".

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: otis

                                                    A good nominee, but given the demise of old school Basque restaurants, I'm not sure where to find this.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      Bask has tongue on the menu. I wasn't terribly impressed by my one visit there.

                                                      I think the Basque Cultural Center has tongue on the regular menu. If not, it's a common special.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Thanks, and I'm remembering that someone had a recipe for how to make this. Was it you?

                                                  2. What animal do you think has the best tongue flavor?

                                                    Do Hispanics and Asians cuisines prefer one over the others?

                                                    I'm a tongue eating newbie!


                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Mission

                                                      I've had beef tongue, lamb tongue, goat tongue, and duck tongues. I don't think I've ever had pork tongue (caaveat - I don't know what kind of tongue is used in the tongue and blood sausage I had from Lucca).

                                                      The lamb tongue is definitely the most tender and flavorful. Duck tongues are just a vehicle for sauce (much like chicken feet).

                                                      1. re: Mission

                                                        Lamb's tongue is my favorite. Maykadeh has a couple of good preparations.

                                                      2. NoJo has skewers of beef tongue. They are quite good and juicy, like hot dogs, although I thought all the grill items were a bit too greasy the other night.

                                                        1. Someone needs to try this dish on the menu at Tashi Delek in El Cerrito:

                                                          "CHAY-LAY KHATSA - Steamed beef tongue sautéed with Tibetan spices 8"

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            State Bird currently has a beef tongue dish as one of their small plates

                                                            1. re: barleywino

                                                              Hmmm... I was at State Bird on Wednesday and there was no tongue that evening. Although there *was* an amazing Duck Gizzard-wrapped-in-bacon dish!

                                                            2. Tongue comes and goes on a few of the menus we've encountered in the last year, referring to restaurants that are NOT low-budget hole-in-the-wall types (where thankfully, they know how tasty it is and always have it). Spouse and I are happy to see this because we love tongue, especially beef tongue. When properly cooked it's better than roast beef, with a soft melting texture.

                                                              Two restaurants that had it on the menu recently were:
                                                              - Iyasare. The one weakness we think Iyasare has is their control over their new electric robata grill isn't very good. Everything that comes off that grill is slightly overcooked, in our opinion. The beef tongue was rubbery and most of us (party of 6) found it unpleasant in texture. This was a real shame as it was advertised as Angus variety, and indeed the flavor was that of a good steak.

                                                              - Lungomare. They had an ox-tongue starter with parsnip puree that was sensational. The tongue had been cooked until tender (maybe sous vide; if you poach tongue it shrinks like crazy), then sliced thin and lightly sauteed to heat it up but not toughen or dry it out.

                                                              1. We'd like to find a decent sandwich of warm corned tongue on rye without having to schlep to LA.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: BoneAppetite

                                                                  You can buy corned tongue from Robert's Corned Meats in SOMA and cook your own if you're up for it. I've done it a couple of times and it was delicious.

                                                                  1. re: srr

                                                                    We've done it, but like dim sum, fish and chips, etc. it's usually better enjoyed when someone else does it. Thanks for the thought.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Can't hold a candle to Brent's, Factors Famous, Nate 'n' al . . . and it closes at 3:30 and is out of the question on weekends because of its location . . .