Sungari Dumpling house -- Northeastern chinese in Excelsior (SF)
I caught a tip on Tablehopper about Sun Gari, a Chinese restaurant in Excelsior with a chef from Dongbei (i.e., the provinces in Northeastern China).
The name references the Songua River in Northeast China. The menu sports boiled dumplings, hand cut noodles (not hand pulled), clay pot items, cold appetizers, lots of vegetarian/tofu dishes, some Chinese American things, and the specialties below. I may have misunderstood, but I think the woman behind the counter said the chef is from Liaoning province, but not the capital Shenyang.
They indicated that the menu's English translations needed help, so I played amateur translator and used Pleco to help them with some editing for their next revision. I'm not familiar with a lot of these dishes, but here's a stab at translating their list of specialties:
K01 泡椒鳳爪 Pickled chile chicken feet
K02 蒜苗紅豆腐 Garlic greens red bean curd
K03 北方炸茄盒 Northern fried eggplant box
K04 北方溜肥腸 Northern sauteed intestines
K05 豆豉燒肥腸 Black bean stewed intestines
K06 醬爆泥鳅 Sauce fried loach
K07 酸菜炒腰片Sauerkraut fried kidney slices
K08 椒鹽腰塊 Salt and pepper kidney pieces
K09 乾蒸雞翅 Dry steamed chicken wings
K10 椒鹽鷄翅 Salt and pepper chicken wings
K11 漂香鷄翅 Piao chang chicken wings
K12涼瓜排骨 Bitter melon ribs
K13椒鹽排健 Salt and pepper ribs
K14北方溜排骨 Northern ribs
K15 孜然掌肉／半肉 Cumin lamb/beef
K16 葱爆眷肉／半肉 Scallions lamb /beef
K17 沙茶羊肉／半肉 Shacha lamb/beef
K18 北方鍋包肉 Northern pot package of meat
K19 北方糖醋肉段 Northern sweet and sour pork
K20 北方紅燒肉 Northern red braised pork
K21 蒜苗回鍋肉 Garlic greens twice cooked pork
K22 花溪牛肉乾 Huaxi beef jerky (Huaxi is a city in Jiangsu, not Dongbei)
K23 火爆腰花（雙花）Kidney flower
K24紅燒席眼獅子頭 Red braised tiger dress lion's head meatball
K25老湯毛血堆 Mao Xue Wang (blood soup)
K26私房紅燜鴨 Red braised duck
K27紅燒蹄筋 Red braised tendon
Northeastern specialities seem to be noted elsewhere on the menu with the English word "North" in them.
I don't know my way around a Northeast menu, so I got three unfamiliar dishes and Shanghai noodles to play it safe:
E07 Shanghai handmade noodles : These thick hand cut noodles were smooth. Their texture is closer to the thick and wide fresh fettuccine/tagliatelle ideal for soups. The noodles themselves were pretty good, but these are not the rougher surface, taller, and chewier textured udon-like noodles.
H08 North great harvest (literally bumper crop) : Lettuce, red radishes, and cucumber spears with a thick umami and salt heavy pork and egg sheet (maybe tofu skin) dip. Nice appetizer for a large group. Anyone know more about this dish?
K03 North fried eggplant box: deep-fried sandwich of eggplant with a center of ground pork, coated in a heavy tempura-like batter. The batter is seasoned with salt and black pepper.
K18 北方鍋包肉 Northern pot package of meat: scored boneless slices of pork deep fried and tossed with sweet and sour sauce.
It's located on Mission across from Goldilocks Bakery and Pissed off Pete's.
4543 Mission St, 94112
Except for two people getting take out, I was the only one in there so service was fine :-) They've been open for a week and the one server hung out in the dining area the whole time.
Yeah, those are a mixture of their and my translations, so that's why there's no cultural/culinary context or floweriness --- I hope they can get someone good to finish translating their menu b/c the person they hired, to their chagrin, clearly used google translate.
Great!! I was tempted to post the tablehopper tip even though I knew I wouldn't make it to the Excelsior for a few weeks.
Curious, could you tell if the red in the great harvest dish came from tomato, chili, or both? Though geographically distant, the picture of fresh vegetables could convince me that this was some sort of Lao/Thai jeow/jaew.
The dip looks a bit reddish in the photo, but it didn't have any heat and was fully brown. The base is some kind of fermented soy product-the taste reminded me mostly of Chinese style zha jiang mian (yellow soybean paste?) and a bit of white fermented bean curd.
The dish is called Běifāng dà fēngshōu 北方大豐收 (Northern large bumper harvest). I'm certain I've seen something that translated to "bumper harvest" recently so another Bay Area restaurant may have this too.
The bulk of dishes from the "Specialties" section of the menu I listed above can be found elsewhere, at least by name, so I'll look at some other Dongbei menus over the weekend to see what dishes here might be unique. Based on some travel resources referencing Northeastern China, "I04 chicken cooked mushrooms" (Xiaoji dun mogu ) should be a specialty.
I popped down there to check out the noodles. Communicating (or attempting to) with the friendly woman of the house bordered on comical, but I managed to order the "Northern Noodles" which neither she nor the menu could enlighten me about. They turned out to be zha jiang mian. Sungari's version was served with the thick, chewy noodles already topped with the brown sauce but the requisite julienned cucumbers were served on the side, along with separate small dishes of bean sprouts and chopped cilantro. I also added the complimentary spiced cabbage, as the sauce was a little on the bland side. Overall, it made for a hearty and tasty lunch for $6.95
I talked the woman out of a copy of the menu to take home, and am working my way through the Chinese names, as the English names tend to be opaque. It's an ambitious menu for a small place (and only one cook on Sunday) with quite a few Sichuan dishes including lesser known ones like duck blood soup (mao xue wang). The noodles section of the menu includes Guilin rice noodles which I will be checking out.
I noticed that some of the dishes are designated as "Northeastern" (dongbei) and others as just "Northern" (beifang) and wondering if the latter are more from a Manchu tradition.
It's definitely a place worth exploring and I'm hoping someone who both speaks Mandarin and is familiar with far North cuisine will check it out and report here.
Since they haven't updated the menu yet, here are some notes about things with odd translations and/or uncommon dishes. I'm not familiar with a lot of this stuff, so please take my translations with a grain of salt until someone who knows what they're talking about can jump aboard :-)
The "bao" cooking technique ( 爆) is indicated for a bunch of items. As per Fuchsia Dunlop, bao is "explode frying," "fast stir-frying cross-hatched pieces of crisp animal foods like kidney or poultry gizzards in hot oil at a very high temperature" (see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stir_fry...)
B06 紫菜番茄蛋花湯 Seaweed tomato egg soup
C03 三鮮水餃 Three fresh water dumplings (shuijiao)
C10 園籠蒸包 Garden steamed bun/dumpling (their menu said pork though)
F06 北方炸酱面 Northern noodles = zha jiang mian
F09 魚湯濑粉 Seto powder soup = dongbei la pi (mungbean noodles) http://kake.dreamwidth.org/99365.html
H01 香辣拌墨鬥 Marinated fountain = Frangrant spicy mixed cuttlefish
I101 川?肉酸菜鍋 Sichuan white pork sauerkraut pot
I102 羊肉酸菜鍋 Lamb sauerkraut pot
I103 魚飒豆腐鍋 Fish head bean curd pot
I104 小鸡炖蘑菇 Chicken and mushroom stew
I105 束北麻辣燙 Dongbei malatang (skewers in hot pot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malatang
)I106 束北豬什燴碗 Dongbei braised pork bowl ??
I107 雪梨粟子牛尾鍋 Snow pear chestnut oxtail pot
I108 滋補宏運鳄魚鍋 Hongyun crocodile pot
J07 Celery xianggan = celery with pressed tofu
J16東北地三鮮 Dongbei three fresh things from the earth (di san xian , potatoes, peppers, eggplant)
J17東北地三絲 Dongbei three fresh shredded things from the earth
J18乾煸小竹笋 Dry fried small bamboo shoots
J19天菌小炒 Tianjun stir fry (no idea what Tianjun is)
J20酸菜炒粉絲 Sauerkraut with vermicelli noodles
J21 海味冬瓜 Sea flavor (seafood?) winter melon
K06 醬爆泥鳅 Sauce fried loach (bao)
K16 葱爆眷肉／半肉 Scallions lamb /beef (bao)
K23 火爆腰花（雙花) Fried kidney flower (bao)
L12 水爆羊肉 Water fried lamb (bao)
L13 生菜碎米鷄 Lettuce crushed rice chicken
L16 大盤咖喱鷄塊 Curry big plate chicken
M06 Braised belt fish
M09 水煮魚 Water boiled fish (Sichuan dish)
M10 沸騰魚 Flaming chili oil fish (Sichuan dish)
M12 翡翠魚片 Jade fish slices
M13 十八辣子蝦 18 spice shrimp http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/Rw...
M14 紅燒海參 Red braised sea cucumber
M15 葱爆海參 Scallion sea cucumber (bao)
Thanks. The "box" (盒子) in the mysterious "Boiled Box" (A05) and C01 apparently refers to a ravioli-like dumpling shown in this picture:
Also, "Multicolor Lift" (五彩拉皮) in the salad menu refers to a "five color" clear noodle dish which might look like one of these and is probably a good dish for sharing:
Oh cool, the "multicolor lift" looks like a very pretty dish. We haven't eaten any delicate dishes yet, so it might give insight into the chef's knife skills.
H09 The multicolor lift has the mungbean "pulled skin" la pi noodles discussed at http://kake.dreamwidth.org/99365.html . I'd be careful pantomiming this dish--- the server told me the words connoted "face lift" :-)
Oh, and a correction:
F09 魚湯濑粉 is fish soup with Lai Fun noodles ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lai_fun)
The boiled boxes sound good. The ingredients for the dough in that link are the same ratio as for standard Italian egg pasta.
The fried version of the "box" (C02) has the same name as the chive pie/chive turnover you can get on lots of non-Cantonese menus, e.g.,
re: Melanie Wong
If someone does stop in soon, some news:
There's a Chinese signpost on the street saying something about "20 dumplings." I *think* they're advertising frozen dumplings. Either way, I was able to convince the owner of selling me some after a minute of miming. The chef grabbed 20 frost-covered dumplings and tossed them into a bag for me. These were around eight bucks whereas an order of cooked ones in the restaurant is seven dollars and comes with 15 dumplings.
They've also updated the translation of the take-out menu. Most of the remaining mysteries are covered above.
Having ordered too many starchy and deep-fried things last time, I returned for a few lighter dishes that sounded interesting.
J18 bacteria dishes : this is listed on the lunch specials menu as "mixed mushrooms." It's a stir-fried mix of king trumpet mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, and canned straw mushrooms. Like the Shanghai Chow Mein in my previous visit, this is an excessively oily dish, but stir-frying got a lot of flavor out of the king trumpets.
H01 spicy mix fountain: a cold salad of squid, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeno. The chili oil dressing is infused with garlic and the squid was tender.
M13 十八辣子蝦 18 spice shrimp . The headless shrimp took on the roasty flavor of dried chilies and other aromatics. The shell wasn't fried crispy enough to be eaten, so I popped the flesh out of the shell and lost some flavor in the process.
The dishes I've eaten across my two visits only cover a few cooking techniques, but I think the handling of the food is better at other places serving Northeastern Chinese cuisine. But they're in a convenient location for me, so I'll return to try their stews and soups.
I just went there alone for an early weekday lunch. The woman at the front of the house speaks Cantonese and clearly knew nothing of the specialty menu. The tea was cold and no rice to be found. The Northern Big Harvest turned out to be a salad with a delicious dipping sauce with some pork and soy (maybe). The sauteed intestine was good but on the greasy side. They really seemed puzzled that I wanted to order non-Americanized dishes. I worry the disjointed service and split allegiance to both adventurous and plain palates and will be it's downfall.