Hung's Kitchen in San Ramon
A photo of some expertly pleated xiao long bao flashed by on a friend's FB page. I thought he might be in Taipei, but no, he's in San Ramon at Hung's Kitchen.
Who's tried this place?
500 Bollinger Canyon Way A1
San Ramon, CA 94582
I just asked some friends who live in the area, and apparently they love the place...but hadn't told me =.= No detailed descriptions, but they like the XLB, sea bass chive dumpling, scallop dumpling, spicy beef tendon, salt and pepper fish and the mantou. If I can guilt them into a meal I'll report back.
If I understood the waiter correctly, the chef is from Korea and of Shandong heritage. Very interesting menu. Mostly Chinese American, but a few transliterated Shandong dishes: liang zhang pi ($24, elsewhere called double skin), chow ma mein (aka jjampong), zha jiang mein, seafood gan peng mein (seafood dry fried noodles?). The item listed as "udon" are seafood da lu noodles.
There are also a bunch of Shanghainese dishes: Tung-po pork (dong bo pork), juicy pork dumplings (xiao long tang bao), juicy scallop dumplings (xiao long tang bao), smoked fish, drunken chicken, songshao fish soup (aka Madame Song's fish soup), and braised short rib in brown sauce (Wu-Xi ribs). The latter two are kind of interesting because they're not uniformly found in Bay Area Shanghainese places.
Good drunken chicken. Fresh tasting skin and good flavors in the meat. Made with goji berries.
Everyone seemed to come here for the pork xiao long bao. They were very large and had a lot of empty space on the inside. They held their soup in the steamer, but the skins were so soft and big it was tough to hold them up by the pleats without a tear forming. I wound up eating the soup, flattish meatball, and thick but uniform skin separately for most of these, but the components were all enjoyable.
Tung-po pork was served sliced alongside pickled cabbage and with a basket of steamed clam shell buns. The flesh and fat were tender throughout and not too sweet. To my palate though, I'd prefer a sweeter and saltier meat and brighter, more acidic, cabbage to pair it with in the clamshell. They're prepared differently, but I liked these better than the pork belly buns at Chairman Bao and way less than Momofuku.
Zha jiang mien was pretty good. I really liked the sauce and the pieces of cabbage, ground pork, and zucchini. Housemade noodles were a little soft.
A-choy with garlic sauce was crisp, but not garlicky enough.
Overall, several of the preparations could all have been bolder but exceeded my expectations for the location. On the plus side, the chef is restrained in oil use and everything tasted fresh. The zha jiang mien in particular was surprisingly light with no loss of flavor.
Thanks for the first mouth report. I still like the looks of the XLB with the softer, more tender wrapper that's hard to find (dysfunctional though it seems to be here).
Very interesting that the dongpo rou was served with buns. Not often seen that way out here. In this old discussion with Jim Leff, he said that it always has buns in NY.
re: Melanie Wong
Yes, they are very pretty! I can't put my finger on it, but the feel of the wrapper reminded me of some other type of dumpling wrapper.
Thanks for the background link.
On a tangential note, I picked up a menu for Sichuan House in Walnut Creek. They also list Madam Song's soup. Must be popular in Contra Costa county...
Living near by, we tried this for take-out one night.Maybe the chef was on vacation or something. All I can say is that after a couple of bites, we threw it all out. We liked it so little, that we saw no reason for going back and trying any other dishes. And regarding the "HOUSE SPECIAL JUICY PORK DUMPLINGS" that are their specialty, I could give you no information. We ordered them, but they got the order wrong and gave us what looked to be their regular pork dumplings.