HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


ZONGZI aka CHINESE TAMALES SFBA Dish of the Month May 2014

Zongzi aka Joong aka Chinese Tamales are the May 2014 Dish of the Month!

The goal of Dish of the Month is to collectively try as many versions of zongzi as we can in the Bay Area. To keep things lively, focus on places where you have not eaten zongzi before and report back. Bring pictures!

This will be a good time to scope out zongzi before the Dragon Boat festival on June 2nd.

Some background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zongzi

Voting thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/973602

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'll also be interested if and where anybody finds Shanghai/Jiaxing style zongzi. These are usually stubby triangles with salty pork as the sole filling and rice that has been given a soy sauce bath before cooking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: soupçon

      wouldn't expect to find any but a major prospect may be the food kitchens in the ranch 99 and/or marina markets.

      thought i saw a shanghai one before(probably marina). if/when i see one will report back.

      1. re: soupçon

        Shanghai zongzi found at 99 Ranch El Cerrito. Cold case feafures a 2-fer pack. Also hot from the Steamer at the Deli.

        Please see photos. Prices listed. A lot of variations available.

        I did not purchase any, just the HK Version from Daimo, and that was a MONSTER! Maybe some Hounds can report back.

      2. More help, please.

        Have read posts on voting thread that speak to this dish. And read the Wiki link above.

        But still feel a bit at sea, would love still more description/context/pointers.

        2 Replies
          1. I like the versions at Oakland Ctown's Gum Wah. They make 3 varieties: peanut, red bean, yellow bean (Mung bean). All have several chunks of pork (shoulder?), lots of pork fat and a small salted egg yolk (hom don). I usually get the peanut, but had the red bean for the 1st time recently and liked it a lot. The red beans were al dente.

            Not as good as they used to be, nor as good as Orient Market's (now closed) or my Paw Paw's, but still good. The rice is chewy but not too sticky and they are quite large. One will fill you up a dinner time. It seems that they have them all/most of the time now instead of just around the Chinese holidays. Haven't tried any others in the vicinity.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              Big +1 to the zongzi at Gum Wah (345 8th St) in Oakland! $2.25 apiece makes them a great deal, too!

            2. A Chinese friend of mine calls the savory ones her mom used to make "Doh". Is Doh used to refer to a subset if these?

              8 Replies
              1. re: Ridge

                In my family "dong" is how we refer to it, and yes, same thing.

                1. re: rubadubgdub

                  My friend pronounced it more like Doh. The ones her mom made were very good. They had water chestnuts, chopped up egg, mushrooms and Chinese sausage.

                  We like the ones at Koi palace and get them as takeout to take for weekday lunches. They reheat really well.

                  I want to try and make them sometime,

                2. re: Ridge

                  I thought that the Cantonese word was something like joong. When we were growing up my sister and I just called them rice stuff.

                  Besides the traditional steaming prep, we had them sliced and pan fried.

                  1. re: Ridge

                    Homemade is still the best. Best ratio of sticky rice: fillings. Best favorite fillings! Best taste.

                    1. re: Cynsa

                      My grandmother used to include huge, salty, mealy homemade hom don in hers. To me that is the key ingredient. I remember that the assembly line occupied her entire small kitchen. There was a huge double boiler involved and there were banana leaves hanging everywhere. Wish I had learned how to make make them b4 my mom forgot. At least I learned how to make her guy don cha, the best breakfast ever.

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy

                        AGREED!, but with Youtube, there is hope yet... My Grandma used to make Peranakan Bak Chang, and she commandeered the whole kitchen for days! She shooed our "amah" out, and joong hung on clotheslines. The filling was pork belly and candied winter melon. You can only find it in Singapore. Nothing compares. (...sorry!)

                        The recipe and technique is right there in Youtube, and one day, when I have all the time in the world, I will make thousands of Bak Chang to perfect the technique of sharp angles and dense glutinous rice, and invite y'all to a feast. In redcook.com, Kian in NY said his neighbors thought the smell of steaming joong was marijuana. Luckily I have access to an outdoor kitchen so my neighbors will not call the cops on me.

                        1. re: NapaSpy

                          ...oops. sorry! Here is the proper link: http://redcook.net/2013/05/30/alkalin... I did not want anybody to think Kian suddenly went Communist.

                          BTW, did anybody notice that the portrait of Chairman Mao at Daimo was finally removed? Hard to feast and revel under his disapproving eye.

                        2. re: chocolatetartguy

                          An aunt was visiting and she told me that my Paw Paw use to make hom don from duck egg yolks. That made them larger and richer I assume.

                    2. Is the smaller version, wrapped in lotus leaf/no string/rectangular shape/no egg yolk also considered zongzi? These are usually available on dim sum menus, whereas the larger, banana leaf/tied with string/often with egg yolk item is found mostly at delis for take out. In any case, very nice version of the lotus leaf-wrapped version at Hong Kong Lounge II. Rice is more tender than sticky, filling-to-rice ratio perfect.

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: dordogne

                        I thought the lotus leaf version (not triangular) at dim sum is called something like lo mai gai. I think I have had the other by getting something at dim sum that was not lo mai gai. Had a lot of pork belly and other stuff that I was not expecting.

                        1. re: dordogne

                          This confused me to, so thanks for asking this question. See answer at:


                          1. re: dordogne

                            Yummy Yummy opens at 9 am at 758 Pacific.
                            Here's a pix of nuomiji wrapped in lotus leaf with sausage, dried shrimp, diced chicken - this morning. The sticky rice is seasoned lightly with soy sauce and it is generously filled with meats for a very tasty and satisfying breakfast. Two for $3.50
                            Is the nuomiji an acceptable subset of zongzi for this thread?

                            1. re: Cynsa

                              i think not. zongzi is made specially at a certain time of year to honor a chinese official/scholar who committed suicide by drowning to protest his emperor's policy.

                              the local populace made zongzi to throw in the water so the sea creatures would eat them instead of the official's body. (this is my understanding of why zongzi exists. my memory may be hazy).

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                I'd say no.

                                They're very different from each other than being made of sticky rice and being wrapped in a leaf. The texture of the rice is completely different due to the cooking methods.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I agree with you one is made from raw sweet rice with is cooked for hours in boiling (or near boiling) and the other is cooked rice and goodies reheated in a lotus leaf vs bamboo leaves. We have a month to enjoy the joong's since the holiday in the 5th month of the lunar calendar which the 6th month of our calendar.

                              2. re: dordogne

                                dordogne, I concur that this particular DOTM may cause at least a little head-scratching, given that the genre of leaf-wrapped, filled sticky rice packets has been so ubiquitous at Bay Area dim-sum houses all the years I've been patronizing those (which is since the 1970s) -- varying in size, varying quite considerably in fillings, with and without egg yolk, tie string, etc.

                                So not being an expert at zongzi per se, I'm hard pressed to say which ones qualify though I've had many over the years, at dim sum houses, that fit the descriptions here and on Wikipedia.

                                1. re: eatzalot

                                  Those lotus leaf-wrapped glutinous rice dumplings are not zongzi.
                                  Don't think zongzi is served in dim sum houses in SFBA but, hey, why not.

                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                    My concern remains that to nonexperts, people new to "zongzi" (not a term I remember seeing before in the Bay Area, or even on this board), hyperbowler's WP link's definition

                                    "glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves"

                                    certainly embraces some of what I've tasted over the years in dim sum houses around the Bay Area. Foods fitting that broad description have come wrapped with _various_ large flat leaves, and certainly a wide range of fillings or filling combinations from the list on Wikipedia. These may not be proper zongzi, but they're near relatives and could be easily mistaken, going by WP's broad wording cited at the start here.

                                    It's like the wild-mushroom identification issue. Some mushrooms (and dishes) are all but unmistakable, while others share enough attributes to be misidentified by the nonexpert who is following simple descriptions.

                                    1. re: eatzalot

                                      Those dishes at dim sum houses are typically lo mai gai

                                      They are similar to joong/zongzi but not quite the same.

                                      1. re: Mr_Happy

                                        So a key defining feature of most zongzi is a tapered shape (triangular or conical profile) if I understand (due it seems to characteristics of the bamboo leaf, acc. to WP).

                                        Also just spotted hyperbowler's helpful link to earlier CH discussion on these specialties: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4110...

                                    2. re: klyeoh

                                      I did not think zongzi were served at Dim Sum houses either, but here is a Menu from Daimo, and as you can see, "Harm Yook Joong" (Savory Meat Joong) is listed here at the bottom of the Dim Sum Menu. $5.80 !!!

                                      Why not? It is DOTM! When it arrived, I could see why: It was a MONSTER! See second photo. I took it home and weighed it: 1 lb 3 oz. Grandma would faint. When she came around she would gasp: "Too coarse, totally lacking in finesse. America has ruined you!"

                                      Next photo shows the contents: Salted egg, lean pork belly, mung beans. That big lump of rice at the top would also draw Grandma's tongue clicking: "Cheating! No expertise/skill." Her joong was packed with goodies, and the rice was just a veneer. As you can see from the photo, it was falling apart from its sheer size. It had to be cut into slices, and the butcher twine was no help in slicing it either.

                                      Despite my bias toward Peranakan Bak Chang, it was quite delicious, but something to be shared as Dim Sum, and not consumed by one person.

                                      I would not order this again. Dim Sum is traditionally "little morsels of goodies to touch the heart", and this would fill the belly at the first bite. Too heavy on the scale of Opportunity Cost. However, if I were starving, this would be it!

                                      Please see next post as to different varieties of zongzi at 99 Ranch Market, El Cerrito. I never knew there were so many!

                                      1. re: NapaSpy

                                        How was the hom don? It looks the right color. Is that half of it or did they just include half. That other yellow stuff around it is the mung bean paste?

                                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                          There was definitely one whole yolk. The other half is in the portion above. Yes, and the bottom was mung bean. Not quite paste, as you can still see the grains.

                                          We should have a chow down to taste all the zongzi. Too much for one person!

                                          Soupcon, can you expound on Shanghai style, and KLYeoh, please tell us about the Cantonese version. I thought Kansui joong is the version you eat with sugar. KK, I want to hear about your thoughts on the Cantonese version too. From the Chinese characters, it appears that the Taiwanese version has pork and mushrooms.

                                          So much to eat! So much to enjoy! I'm ready!

                                          1. re: NapaSpy

                                            Attaching a stock photo of the one sold/served by Cooking Papa (appetizer/savory version). It appears to be steamed with the lotus leaf wrap, but unwrapped already when plated and delivered to your table. I had it once, and all I can say is that it re-inforces my dislike of Cantonese zongzi, although their in house made attempt is admirable. Again this is just a preference, despite my general love for Cantonese fare. But I do recall that the seasoned soy sauce did enhance the experience and is really crucial.

                                            Also decided to take one for the team (well it was actually a re-visit for me) to the mini van mom and pop business (selling Tainan style zongzi) I was talking about.

                                            Similar to traditional Cantonese, shaped and wrapped like a pyramid. The rice is glutinous, and has a house seasoned soy sauce/stock that engulfs most of the material (could be from the pork braise). The signature of this style is a lot of peanuts (a very particular variety) with the skin on. There are chunks of lean pork inside that are tender, but the gem is the shitake mushroom on top. This business also sells a peanut only version, and a vegetarian version that is also quite good. There is no salted egg yolk inside.

                                            This batch was a bit less intense overall in flavor than 2 years ago that I remembered, perhaps less salty which is good. Then again these are all home made, and finding anything fairly true to form Taiwanese is very very very difficult in Northern California these days, so it is an extremely commendable effort.

                                            Here's the kicker...it appears that they also sell at Lynbrook High school (San Jose) on Fridays (didn't ask the time) and Sundays at Belmont Ralston Middle School (but you need to be there, best time between 11 am to noon, and noon is when the Sunday Tzu Chi Chinese school classes end). So maybe they will be there at most till 12:20 to 12:30 pm when there are no more prospective parents/customers.

                                            Prices seemed to have gone up. They prefer to sell in bundles of 10, and it used to be $22. Last Sunday the old man charge me $15 for 5. Inflation/rising cost of gas/materials/real estate yada yada... but definitely a zongzi that I very much enjoy.

                                            1. re: K K

                                              Thank you, KK! Regional variations are very interesting.

                                              Re that sign: I could not read the middle one. Meat, Vegetarian/Peanut... what is the other?

                                              Since these appear to be the Genuine Taiwanese zongzi, I shudder to think what you would say about the 99R specimens!

                                              1. re: NapaSpy

                                                1) Meat (pork) with mushroom and peanuts
                                                2) Vegetarian (mock meat/mock pork/wheat gluten) with mushroom and peanuts
                                                3) Vegetable (with peanuts). Not entirely clear on the this one.

                                                The van in question is an older Nissan, green/turquoise color. It's the 2nd car from the front. (Look for the van parked anywhere there is space)

                                              2. re: K K

                                                Your description sounds much more like what I grew up eating. In addition to the seasoned rice and the shitake mushroom, I always looked forward to eating the quail egg.

                                                1. re: K K

                                                  I've tried the one at Cooking Papa Foster City in the last year. I did not care for it. Our example was oversteamed, making the rice extra gluey, and the meats were cottony.

                                            2. re: NapaSpy

                                              Peranakan bak chang is also one of my faves - the ones from Malacca are traditionally tinted blue using the "bunga telang" flower (not done elsewhere).

                                      2. aka Chinese Tamale $2.50 at Jook Time - 3398A Balboa Street - still warm at 8:30 am today for take out - with good flavors of mung beans, peanuts, fatty pork, and Chinese sausage in the sticky rice.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Cynsa

                                          Mung beans! This is the Cantonese zongzi - one of my faves. You need to have this with some granulated white sugar.

                                          1. re: Cynsa

                                            Wanted to mention that after unwrapping the joong, one of the ways to cut it in half is to use the string that wrapped it to slice through the rice dumpling.

                                          2. I tried the peanut version at Wonder Food Bakery in Oakland today for lunch. For $2.10 this one contained a slice of Chinese sausage, a fair size piece of pork, salted egg yolk, and of course peanuts.

                                            It was fine compared to other store bought versions, and possibly above average given the protein to rice ratio, but I am accustomed to a different style so these will never compare to what my grandparents used to make.

                                            1. Ok, now that you chowhounds have completed a scholarly dissection of the taxonomy of zongzi versus nuomiji (consensus from Soupçon, Melanie and Yimster is that other than shape and leaf type, the key difference is that zongzi start out with uncooked rice and fillings and is then boiled for a good long while, whereas nuomiji starts out with cooked rice and fillings, is then steamed): Where near Lake Merritt (site of the June 15 Dragon Boat Festival) can good zongzi and nuomiji be found?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dordogne

                                                Well, I think you need to hit the streets of Oakland Chinatown. Go door to door, street corner to street corner, buy a few zongzi (they're only $3 or so apiece) and let us know what you like. Awaken your inner chowhound!

                                              2. I absolutely do not like the Cantonese version (or most other variations).

                                                But for those interested, Cooking Papa (all locations) offers two versions, savory and a dessert one, for those who want to do DOTM on it. I had the savory one once a long time ago, and still disliked it (and have been since I was young).

                                                About a year to two ago, there was a mom and pop business that sold Tainanese "ba zhang" (Southern Taiwan style zongzi) from their mini van, many times on Sundays during Tzu Chi academy Chinese school at Ralston Belmont Middle School (parking lot), unless they sell out during the weekday in San Jose area (not sure where). They are basically targeting the TW/Chinese/Chinese American and expat parents, and are there between 10 am to noon, but only if they do not sell out previously during the week. The savory pork and also mushroom/vegetarian versions are phenomenal. They sell them in units of 10 for $22 (and are still fairly hot when you buy them), and sometimes you can bargain to have them sell 5 for $10/$11 (not sure what the prices are now). Don't think the owners speak much English, so if anyone braves this for an update, might be a good idea to tag along with the parents and have them assist. Cash only of course, for this home made goodness. I have some vague recollection that the owners are somehow related to the folks who run Spices IV (Foster City).

                                                That's my contribution to this thread.

                                                1. First time trying one: Gourmet Dim Sum on Clement. Thought the pork was good, but the rice dry, the dried egg making it drier. But an older Chinese gentleman went back up to the counter, saying his roll (a different kind entirely) was dry and asked for a fresher one, which they gave him. Need to try more to know if this is just something I'm not crazy about or this particular one wasn't the best.

                                                  1. Since no one else has chimed in, I will . . . after last weekend's chowdown at Jai Yun, the group headed up Clay Street to Anna Bakery. The case goods looked more haphazard than my previous visits. Someone bought a zongzi here. Three types in the Cantonese style are available - with peanuts, beans or a combination of both. The counter lady was amusing, saying to get the peanut one because the beans dry out your mouth.

                                                    Then up and over to Eastern Bakery on Grant Avenue. The venerable Eastern Bakery also had three types - two savory with either peanut or mung beans and one sweet made with alkali water. Tasting these, none was that compelling. The savory ones tasted stale and the rice was too soft. We had nothing to add more sweetening to the alkali one to give it the full due. Also the rice was not as firm and chewy as it should be.

                                                    The photo below shows all four. Anna's is still unfurled. The sweet one is to the right in the foreground and the rice is a much darker hue.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      No comments from anyone else who tasted these?

                                                      How did Anna's turn out?

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        I was hoping someone else remembered these better than I can :-)

                                                        A few people said they preferred the flavors and/or consistency of lo mo gai. The texture of the red bean was too similar to the pastiness of the rice to be very interesting. I'll hopefully have better luck tasting some this weekend.

                                                        What about the others who were there?

                                                    2. Yummy BBQ Kitchen, San Francisco Chinatown

                                                      First joong of the season was purchased here Saturday morning, $2. It was still warm. I've had them here before, and this example was not nearly as good. The rice was done well, still had some individual grains and a nice chew. But the filling was not nearly as generous with roast meats. Salted egg yolk, a small half-round length of sausage, a piece of very fatty pork seasoned with five spice, and lots of peanuts. The pork fat permeated the rice, adding a nice sheen, glossy mouthfeel and good flavor with just enough salt.

                                                      More about Yummy BBQ Kitchen

                                                      1. All the zongzi you care to taste at 99 Ranch Market,el Cerrito, at their Cold Case, where it is packaged in bags of 2, and at the Deli, in the Steam Basket.

                                                        Cold Case: HK Style, Taiwan Style, Shanghai Style, Cantonese Style. Please see photos for listed prices.

                                                        Steam Basket at the Deli: Shanghai, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Red Bean Paste, Alkaline or Kansui Joong.

                                                        I did not buy any, having just purchased the MONSTER at Daimo, which is probably a HK variety. Perhaps other Hounds can report back on each version.

                                                        MISSING: Gandma's Bak Chang with Candied Winter Melon. Can somebody bring me some from Singapore?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: NapaSpy

                                                          Hi NapaSpy,

                                                          I really enjoyed your description of the Daimo Monster - your imagining how your grandma would react make me laugh! Can you please explain the difference between HK, Taiwan, Shanghai and Cantonese styles?

                                                          Thank you!

                                                          1. re: goodeatsgal

                                                            Sorry, Goodeats: To do that I would have to eat all of them, and I would end up looking like the Daimo Monster!

                                                        2. All these posting brought back memories of the humongous ones my grandma used to make. I went on a quest to fine the best ones in Chinatown. On Friday, I bought 2 from Wa Li, 2 from Wing Scene and 1 from New Louie (on Stockton). The ones from Wing Scene were a disappointment. Tons of peanuts (not in a good way). I was eating for more than 10 minutes before I got to the rest of the filling at the end. There was 1/2 a salted egg (chicken I think), a piece of skin on pork (dry) and a bite of Chinese sausage. I had my hopes up since the workers come from Toy San. Oh, it also stuck to the bamboo leaves. It was a chore to scrape it off. I ended it up leaving several bites on the leaves because it was so arduous. The rice that stuck was hard and there was more peanut than rice. I'm thinking at least 30 peanuts.

                                                          The 2 from Wa Li were much better. Peanuts, fatty skin on pork, dried shrimp, a 1/3 section of Chinese sausage and salted egg. The rice to peanut and filling ratio was pretty good.

                                                          I didn't get a chance to try the one from New Louie because the boys ate it when I wasn't home.

                                                          They were all around the same price $2-$2.20 and on the small side. They were slightly larger than my fist.

                                                          I used to like the ones from 3 Star Noriega but I haven't been this year. They are more the size I grew up with about 1.5 to 2 times the size of my fist. They are also from Toy San.

                                                          Does anyone know where they might sell guo ching joog? When I describe it to people, they say that's what my grandma made. It's about 1.5 to 2 times the size of my fist and contained peanuts, dried shrimp, belly pork, Chinese sausage or Virginia ham, dried chestnuts, dried shitake mushrooms. The salted egg yolk was optional. They are very labor intensive as everything has to be rehydrated and then either parboiled or stir fried before wrapping in the bamboo leaves. My grandma would be prepping for a week. She would use 50lbs of rice and then divide it among the kids and I remember her boiling them over a charcoal stove like she used in China.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: jzc

                                                            Interesting that you mention the "humongous" joong that your Grandma used to make. My curiosity is piqued after my purchase of the Daimo MONSTER. Lambert Yim in his post mentioned a mold for the joong: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/20026

                                                            Lambert Yim May 24, 2002 12:48 PM

                                                            That is why we made a mold to hold more leaves and hold more rice and goodies.

                                                            Did your Grandma use a mold too?

                                                            I cannot imagine how else they made the Daimo MONSTER!

                                                            1. re: NapaSpy

                                                              I found the Youtube video on wrapping a MONSTER jongzi. No mold needed. This is a "5 corner joong" using 4 bamboo leaves.


                                                              Mystery solved!

                                                              1. re: NapaSpy

                                                                I just had a chance to watch the video. Very interesting, but the shape is weird. I've never seen any made like this before. I wonder what village that's from. I'm just used to the tetrahedron shape. The zhongzi still looks small.

                                                                I bought one from the shop on Stockton. The awning is new and says Louie's I think. The place has been there for a while. A sad little place when you walk in and so were the zhongzi. The ones I got from Dick Lee's so-so. Passable. The best ones so far are from Wali and the place on Jackson that always has a large handwritten "zhong" sign taped to the window at $2.50. Very dense and flavorful. Bought one from the newer pastry/bakery shop on Jackson that has the $.99 grand opening milk tea special for the last year or so. It was passable.

                                                                I noticed the zhongzi are smaller everywhere now as compared to prior years. I have to go back to 3 Star on Noriega and try theirs again and see if they've shrunk their zhongzi too.

                                                                My friend's Malaysian born mom makes Hokkien style zhongzi. They're super small and quite cute. I think 2-3 bites would finish one off. The filling is minced pork flavored with sage and soy sauce I think.

                                                                1. re: jzc

                                                                  The newer spot with the 99¢ milk tea special would be Wong Lee, I think.

                                                                2. re: NapaSpy

                                                                  I too view the Youtube video and if do it all the time it works just fine but for those of us who only do it once a year it is very hard.

                                                                  I copied and increase the size of a mold I saw in San Jose when I made my first mold but since then I have traveled a few times to China and now have a better mold (visited three factories and took some ideas from each) which is easier to use and make a more square one which makes the leaves easier to handle.

                                                              2. re: jzc

                                                                I bought one from Wing Sing on Stockton Street as well three weeks ago. Peanut version, on the small side. I steamed it to reheat at home and had no problem with leaves sticking. Rice was overcooked with not enough individual granularity for my preference. Tiniest piece of salted egg yolk I've ever seen, maybe a quarter of a yolk, and as you say, tons of peanuts.

                                                                I wouldn't buy here again.

                                                              3. Taiwanese American Professionals is hosting Zongzi and wine pairing on Saturday 5/31 in San Francisco.


                                                                1. Three weeks ago I headed to San Francisco Chinatown early Saturday morning hoping to find some street sellers peddling homemade versions. No such luck, perhaps it was too early in the season. So instead I picked up from Yummy BBQ Kitchen for one I had liked before (only to discover that it's gone downhill), one from Wing Sing for a dim sum place example, and one from Gourmet Delight BBQ.

                                                                  In the past, ones from roastie places (to borrow KK's term) have featured an assortment of Cantonese BBQ meats. But not here at Gourmet Delight, unfortunately. This did have a chunk of cha siu style roasted pork belly and a very small segment of lop cheong. Plus peanuts and salted egg yolk half.

                                                                  While I don't like to microwave to warm them up, I was away from home. I used the office microwave to heat it up. Some of the leaves stuck to the rice, some of the meat was cottony and other parts cold, and some of the rice ossified into hard patches.

                                                                  When I read sundeck sue's complaint about dryness, I couldn't figure out how steamed-cooked and fatty joong could be considered dry. Now having experienced one that was beaten up by the microwave, I suspect that's what happened.

                                                                  1. This morning I returned to SF Chinatown to try more. The last foray was disappointing all-round, so I tried to stack the deck with at least one good example by heading to Jackson Street to follow jzc's tip. I found Delicious Dim Sum at 752 Jackson St. with a sign for zong in the window. They're $2.50 here.

                                                                    I bought one with beans, still warm to the touch. I had to heat it in the microwave later for lunch, but this time I tried a different method. I wrapped it in wet paper towels, then did 10 seconds, turned it, and microwaved for 10 seconds. Not steaming hot but warm enough to melt the fat. The leaves stuck again to this one, making it a mess to unwrap, and then it fell apart.

                                                                    This one had an abundance of pork fat seasoned with five spice and no lean. The rice did have wonderful texture and porky flavor infused with that fat. A small piece of sausage, a few dried shrimp, half a salted egg yolk and plenty of soft and not drying beans. This was quite satisfactory.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                      This is the place I bought from. They sell zongzi year around. I've to remember to use my phone to take pictures instead of relying on my memory. I'll have to go back.

                                                                      Wali's are the most inexpensive at $1.20 and taste wise I think are on par with this place but not as dense or as big.

                                                                      1. re: jzc

                                                                        Thanks for sending me there. I hope to try Wali's some day, a little burnt out on joong now.

                                                                    2. Yesterday's stroll along Jackson Street turned out to be quite fruitful. House of Dim Sum at 735 Jackson St had zong as well, $2.25 apiece. I steamed a peanut one at home for dinner.

                                                                      This was a particularly meaty example. No ivory-colored chunk of pork fat. Instead a well-marbled piece of plain-ish pork that I tasted and retasted to be sure it wasn't chicken, and a fatty slab of nicely seasoned cha siu, plus a long length of lop cheong. And actually good quality lop cheong, not the cheap types included in some of the others. The half of a salted egg yolk tasted richer, almost rich enough to be a duck egg. The sticky rice (not actually as dark in hue as the night time photo) kept its integrity and offered up a satisfying chew.

                                                                      Very nice example.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        I bought one for lunch today. It was very flavorful. Lots of peanuts, the lop cheung was good (tasted like liver lop cheung but the color wasn't dark), seasoned pork that was pretty lean and I believe they had put in a piece of fat that melted into the rice. Very rich. The person that made my zong left out the salted egg. :-(

                                                                      2. We just had some at Koi Palace. They were good. The sticky rice was dense and mildly sweet. The fillings were peanuts, fatty pork pieces and Chinese sausage.

                                                                        I am more familiar with the similar sticky rice dish that is wrapped in lotus leaf. From reading this thread those are not considered zongzi? Or are they? I might like the lotus leaf ones better.

                                                                        1. Last purchase of yesterday's run was a stop at Yee's Restaurant on Grant Avenue that had a big red sign in the window promoting joong. Three types available: alkali rice with red bean filling ($1.75) or filled with peanuts or mung beans ($3.00).

                                                                          Eaten room temperature for the right rice texture, the alkali one had a satisfying chew. I drizzled it with wildflower honey. This was larger than what I'm accustomed to for this style.

                                                                          For the savory side, I chose a peanut one and steamed it at home today. From cold out of the refrigerator to hot inside takes nearly 20 minutes. This was bigger than most and featured a WHOLE salted egg yolk. Deep orange in color and richer tasting, it could be a duck egg. In proportion to the larger size, this had big piece of 5-spice seasoned pork fat inside that added a glossy sheen to the rice. The filling also included dried shrimp, a two-inch cylinder of lop cheong and of course, peanuts with skins on. The glutinous rice was slightly overdone and a bit too soft for my taste. Still, I felt it was worth the upcharge for the bigger size and whole yolk.

                                                                          FWIW, a couple weeks ago I had a late night meal at Yuet Lee and asked if they'd be making joong for the festival. Nope, they don't make them any more. Too bad, these defined humongous weighing at least three times more than the ones I've been posting about and filled with barbecue duck, chicken wings, roast pig, and more. Basically Chinatown's answer to the Mission burrito. Ah well.

                                                                          1. Can anyone tell me more about the alkaline zongzi? What is the purpose of the is potassium carbonate? What is the history behind it? My mom makes this zongzi every year along with the one with beans, pork and salted egg. This one is much smaller, not packed tightly and she adds a wooden stick in the middle that turns the center red. She uses it to make offerings and places a lot of importance in eating it. Hmmm, I guess I could ask her, but just thought I'd see if anyone else is familiar with it. Also, I've been wondering what kind of wood is used. Thanks!


                                                                            1. New Hollywood bakery in Oakland Chinatown has a peanut zongzi and a green bean (mung bean?) zongzi. Rice was kind of pasty and flavorless. There's a salty egg yolk in the center.

                                                                              Sun sing a few blocks away has small $1.30 red bean paste zongzi. Little bits of rice, some undercooked, were embedded in gelatinized rice. Red bean paste was kind of grainy.

                                                                              1. A Taiwanese friend brought me one from Taiwan restaurant in Berkeley, it was very good and the only one that has come close to the ones I ate growing up. Theirs is filled with pork and mushroom, no peanuts. The rice retains some texture and is well seasoned. The bamboo leaf wrap job is neater and less oblong than the Cantonese version. I'm glad my friend found this for me.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: felice

                                                                                  Nice find! Do you know if it's southern or northern Taiwanese style?

                                                                                  1. re: bouncepass

                                                                                    I don't know the difference between northern vs southern. If you describe how they differ I might be able to take a guess.

                                                                                    1. re: felice

                                                                                      The clearest difference is that northern zongzi are not tasty, while southern ones are delicious! :)

                                                                                      According to my Taiwanese relatives, the main difference is in the texture of the rice. The former has more individual grains, while the latter is a more glutinous texture. From the photo, it looks more northern with the grains breaking off in individual grains, which is less likely in southern ones.

                                                                                      My cousin surmised that zongzi is one of those foods where your mother's version is really the one you like the best. So I'm not actually kidding that I will only eat southern ones, but I assume there are others who are equally adamant about their side of the fence.

                                                                                  2. I was down in Foster City for a seminar and a friend suggested we go to Cooking Papa. I hadn't been before and jumped at the chance. Meh. Decent but didn't live up to they hype IMHO. Someone ordered the zhong. I was excited to try it after another friend had raved about it. I think it was $5 or more. When it came, we all kind of looked at it and someone made the comment that it looked like it had been dropped before they put it on our plate. It looked like it had been flattened. Maybe they steamed it after taking off the bamboo leaves. The rice was too soft and the grains ran together. I'm thinking they soaked the rice overnight. Flavor wasn't bad. Heavy on the soy. I didn't see any mushrooms or salted duck egg. Lots of lotus nuts (weird to me). After everyone was done I poked through what was left and deconstructed it. There was a chicken bone in it. I think they use the leftover roasted meats in their zhong. There was some roasted duck and roast pork.

                                                                                    In general the food was meh. I wouldn't make a special trip for it.

                                                                                    Coincidentally, I was ordering lunch from the chicken pho place on Noriega on Sunday so I went in and picked up some zhong from 3 Star. They are smaller than last year's but still fairly large. Good flavor. I shared one with my eldest so by the time I got to it, there was only peanuts and rice. I had spotted a nice piece of side pork in it, but don't know if there was a salted duck egg or mushroom. It was $2.50 a piece.

                                                                                    1. I am on vacation and getting caught up on older posts. What a delightful read this one was! I don't think I've ever had zongzi at a restaurant -- always get them at a place in Vancouver that supplies many restos and steam them at home. One day early on the proprietor happened to be at loose ends and gave me a crash course on how to ID what is inside each one (they make a couple dozen variations).

                                                                                      They use a combination of the string colour and the string wrapping pattern. Way too complex for my tiny brain but kinda genius when you have so many in your store.

                                                                                      1. BTW, I quite liked how this thread was labelled Zongzi aka Chinese Tamales - when I first came across tamales in SF many years ago, I told my folks back home in Singapore, "Hey, they have Mexican "zongzi" here" :-D