Duk Hing Chinese Deli & Meat [Chinatown, San Francisco]
- Melanie Wong Sep 25, 2013 01:04 AM
Last week I made a quick shopping run to Stockton Street and poked my head into Duk Hing. Waiting for Happy Bakery/Ming Kee to re-open, I’ve been making the rounds of the Cantonese barbecue delis. I’d been to Hing Lung and New Moon recently, and advanced further along Stockton Street. The last time I’d been in this spot, it was known as Sun Hing, and before that, a branch of Cheung Hing.
I stopped here because I noticed the whole roast chickens swaddled in parchment paper displayed in the window, not often seen any more in Chinatown. The stainless steel and glass interior looked quite clean and shiny, a contrast to the grease-smudged cases at the competition. Steam table selections had a freshly cooked look about them and I’d try some in the future. But this time I needed a couple kinds of meats to take to my mom. The hanging roast pig was gorgeous with well-bubbled, brown crispy skin and juicy meat. The flavor was a standout too. There were several varieties of chickens available in salt poached style. I opted for waihong gai (Vikon chicken), asking for the half to be chopped. The pieces were somewhat haphazard, cut a little too large and not along the joints. The skin of the chicken was flabbier than it should be, but I couldn’t say if that’s the fault of the rancher or the cook. Didn't try them, but a rack of plump, honey-glazed spareribs hanging in the window looked good, as did the flanking roast ducks.
Service was particularly friendly. One of the men behind the counter actually smiled and said, “Hello”. Quite different from the usual gruff manner I expect of these guys who bark at their customers. And they showed me several cuts of the roast pig to choose among, pointing out the fattier vs. the leaner ones. All things being equal, I’d return here just because no one yelled at me.
1151 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
" All things being equal, I’d return here just because no one yelled at me."
Being a non-Chinese speaking Chinese person, I find it difficult navigating these places without my mom, especially when the counter folks are not so friendly. Definitely sounds like a place to try out!
If I could offer some sisterly advice, time to get a few lessons from your mom. It took me by surprise when my own mother could no longer navigate these mean streets to come with me. I have a good command of names of dishes in Cantonese so I can ask for things, but can't do much beyond that. And the accents in Chinatown are different than what I grew up with making it doubly hard to understand. Before so many of the places had digital cash registers that make it easier to see the amount of the total bill, my solution was to go to Chinatown with a purseful of $20 bills. I'd just hand them over and trust that I'd get the right amount of change back.
Melanie is right.
However, even Mom makes mistakes since we all come from different "Old Countries". Case in point: Mom asked for "Yau Char Kwai", meaning Chinese crullers. The man behind the counter repeated incredulously. "Say WHAT!!!" I quickly chimed in: "Sorry, You tiao!" With her intonation, he heard "Fried Devil"!
By this time, the deli people (who seemed to have their cleavers incorporated into their hands) put down their cleavers, laughing uncontrollably. They all repeated "Fried Devil" just to hear the words roll off their tongues. Even the customers got into the act, and everybody was laughing.
You just gotta try! Using the politest honorific works wonders. You almost see the robot like facade slip away, and a real helpful person emerge to help you get the choicest pick of whatever you are looking for -- but there were no "Fried Devils" to be had that morning.
What your mom said was probably indeed fried devils, yau jiao gwei, that is the old-fashioned name for the oil sticks.
If you want to know the history of these and why they're sold in paired pieces, start here and read down to the post about the traitors.
I feel so sad for you, for being yelled at. I've met you a few times and can attest that you are a very sweet person.
I am of the Caucasian persuasion, and I never get yelled at in these Chinese places.
Sometimes the staff are amused, and sometimes they profess to speak no English (that's very rare). But they are always polite to me.
Thank you. Oakland Chinatown is a much mellower place in this regard. And the sub-Chinatowns on Irving St or on Clement St are as well to some degree.
SF Chinatown is survival of the fittest. You need sharp, pointed elbows to get past the Chinese grannies to snag the best vegetables. Hesitate a second while waiting in line for your turn, and you'll be run over in a heartbeat or the counter folks will snarl at you.
We were shopping on Stockton Street on Sunday, waiting for Kam Po to open. In the meantime, we went to Sun Sang Market at 1205 Stockton for its friendly service and good chicken wings, 2-ways: soy and fried.
Thanks for this... I will send my parents to Duk Hing next week during their visit from Hawaii. We are not Chinese but I'm not afraid to wade into a Cantonese holler-fest to point out a couple of Peking or pei pah (<-- apologies for my phonetic spelling) duck and kindly smile at the counter guy and say: NO CUT, WE CUT AT HOME!