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May 5, 2014 09:53 AM

Chinatown recommendations...... [San Francisco]

Hi All: I'm going to SF later this month--can anyone recommend a few places to try in Chinatown. Nothing fancy, just good straightforward Chinese food. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated, thanks!!

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    1. re: Dustin_E

      I'm not sure what you mean by "good straightforward Chinese food" -- "Chinese food" means different things to different people!

      Z&Y is known for its Sichuan specialties.

      R&G is known for its fresh (live) seafood. If you don't plan on ordering seafood, go somewhere else.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        i think r&g has decent non-live-seafood dishes, like peking duck.

        and i'm not sure r&g would be at the top of my list for live seafood either.

        but if you make a reservation, request the ground floor or top floor -- those are much nicer than the basement.

        1. re: Dustin_E

          I think Z&Y might be a better choice for Peking duck.

          There was a post recently from someone who went to R&G, ordered American-Chinese dishes and was disappointed. There have been enough comments over the years about having mediocre meals at R&G unless you know what to order that I don't think it's a good choice unless you plan to order something they specialize in. Especially since it's on the expensive side.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            >> There was a post recently
            >> There have been enough comments over the years

            Is any of what you are saying based on first-hand experience?

            1. re: Dustin_E

              People who know how to get real Chinese dishes at Chinese restaurants typically will have no clue how well they do with the kind of Chinese-American standards unsophisticated non-Chinese customers order.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                if they "have no clue", then why comment on it?

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  To warn people that you're recommending the place only for certain dishes, and that if you order other things you probably won't have a great meal.

                  Here's a long discussion about that specifically regarding R&G:


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Exactly. To clarify that the recommendation is based on knowing what to order.

                    I've only been to R&G with Melanie Wong, so I have no first-hand knowledge, but I'm also quite aware that my experience might not be typical. Would you rather have them go, have a disappointing meal, and then have them be told that we knew that might happen but didn't mention it because it wasn't our personal experience?

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      "R&G is known for its fresh (live) seafood. If you don't plan on ordering seafood, go somewhere else."

                      is a pretty strong warning against R&G. If this opinion is only based on reading other threads, and not based on first-hand experience, you should say so explicitly, and ideally link to the thread with posts from first-hand experience.

                      Arguing about restaurants and dishes through 2 or 3 people seems pretty pointless to me.

                      I have had a number of decent meals at R&G (not mind-blowing, but very decent). reading the discussion below, it might be because i was with groups of chinese friends who probably ordered in chinese. I didn't notice or realize until now that would potentially be the case.

                      But i've also tried their steamed live fish, and it wasn't any better than anywhere else i've tried it.

                      Their no-longer-to-be-had shark fin soup was very good.

                      Their duck is different from z&y (which is also good -- maybe better.) A couple friends from Beijing really liked it, and went back the very next night for more.

                      And i've never liked their crab.

                      I guess i assumed if you order americanized chinese food anywhere in chinatown you're going to get mediocre food, and not care or notice.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        There are other options in between live seafood and Americanized Chinese food. The other recommendations on this thread would fall into this category.

                        I also mentioned the price. Again, I don't see the point in paying a price premium for R&G unless you are going to order their specialties. As you can see from the "recent report" (which I have now linked, which hopefully will meet your requirements), people who ordered Americanized Chinese food at R & G did in fact care and notice that it was substandard.

                        I'm sorry "recent report" and "comments over the years" weren't explicit enough disclaimers for you that my advice wasn't based on first-hand knowledge. Perhaps you should instruct me further on exactly how to word my posts to meet your specifications.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          reiterating random people's chowhound posts seems roughly equivalent to linking to a random yelp or tripadvisor post and saying "this guy didn't like it".

                          For example, Shannon E. from Phoenix said about R&G, "I have NEVER had Chinese food this good in my whole life. ... The food was indescribably good; I had the walnut shrimp and I am at a loss to explain to you how delicious it was..."

            2. re: Dustin_E

              When we know we're heading to R&G, we almost always call to pre-order a whole sticky rice-stuffed fried chicken.

          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            I like Yuet Lee for Hong Kong seafood.

            Bund Shanghai is pretty good. Z&Y for Sichuan.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              i also like yuet lee, bund shanghai, and z&y.

            1. Not sure what specific dishes the OP had in mind, but there are a number of non seafood dishes which I often order at R&G and enjoy: crispy pork shoulder, beef chow fun with black bean sauce (not "dry") with some pea leaves (dou miao) added for $2 extra, beef brisket with turnip hot pot, chicken (yes and its quite decent) chow fun "wet" (with egg sauce), deepfried tofu (not pipa tofu) and (when I feel I need to eat some broccoli) probably one of the best versions of beef with broccoli I've ever had (and I've had lots of bad versions). Their duck tends to have too much fat but is otherwise fine. Shrimp with xo and snap peas is another favorite. I'm less fond of some of the other dishes which tend to have too much vinegar (mapo tofu, shredded lamb, mongolian beef) and I was underwhelmed by the black cod miso. If the OP just wants a really good bowl of shrimp wonton soup (with some very tender ham thrown in) he should order that at Yank Sing.

              1. WOW! Thanks everyone for those recommendations---greatly appreciated!!!