HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Help a pressed for time NY Hound find the Asian food of her dreams?

Hi, will be in SF soon and am on the hunt for some Cambodian (please say there are still Cambodian restaurants there, there are none in NY), Thai and Chinese restaurants that will knock my socks off. Former Berkeleyan, know the City and the East Bay well, willing to travel...thanks for any and all suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. The only Cambodian I know is down in Mountain View at Tommy Thai's (I know the name sounds suspicious, but it's pretty good).

    Kin Khao for unique Thai. Lers Ros for a more general menu.

    Chinese: Yank Sing for Dim Sum, R & G for Cantonese, Y & Z for Sichuan maybe Shanghai Dumpling King.

    1. Cambodian picks would be Battambang in Oakland and Angkor Borei in SF with the caveat that I've not been to either in several years.

      1. Greetings buttertart! Long time since the cordial Sichuanese cookbook and linguistics discussions.

        As goldangl95 mentioned, a variety of Cambodian food is available 35 miles south of SF at Tommy Thai near downtown Mountain View (the restaurant also presents a Thai menu, for understandable business reasons -- the same reasons all the regional Chinese restaurants also offer General Tso's Chicken and mu shu rou). The Thai dishes command an explicit section on the menu, and make lively use of many fresh vegetables.

        The same local Cambodian-immigrant family (Poon) first started a Bay-Area Chinese fast-food chain years ago (Mr. Chau's) which was successful with the mass market. More recently, they opened "Tommy Thai," a pragmatic name derived from the name of another, former restaurant at the same address. (A few months back a son, Brandon Poon, also opened a casual restaurant "Buffalo" in downtown MV proper, a mile or so from Tommy Thai, with the sort of menu typical of some recent Bay-Area casual-dining independents: beer, baos of various kinds, and burgers, including with Asian-ingredient garnish options.)

        7 Replies
        1. re: eatzalot

          Champa Garden Oakland or SF for Cambodian/Thai/Lao food.

          1. re: tingr

            The Laotian dishes are the ones to get at Champa Garden. The Thai dishes I've had were mediocre, kind of like the Chinese and Indian dishes at Burma Superstar and Mandalay.

            Isn't there a new Laotian place in SF that has been getting good reports?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Was it this place, Robert? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9312... If so, I liked it very well in April.

                1. re: kungful

                  Vientian was our favourite (have been four or five times, including a couple chowdowns) until we tried Maneelap. I wouldn't turn down Vientian but I think I'd like to do a return visit to Maneelap first. Marginally easier to get to if that matters for the OP.

            2. re: eatzalot

              Besides saying Tommy Thai is actually good, which it is, let me clue you in on their "heat scale" (something I detest at these kinds of restaurants. I greatly prefer Night+Market in LA, which says on the menu "we cook each dish as it is prepared. We don't take special orders. If you don't like spicy food, ask your waitperson, and they will directly you to less spicy dishes. Would more restaurants did that.).

              At TT,

              10 means "cook like you mean it". Do not be afraid to order 10, but you might get your face blown off (which that regional food should do).

              8 means "turn it down a little but give me serious kick"

              6 means "barely tasting any kick"

              4 means "bland".

              I had this tasting at TT where we had a company lunch there (one of the bangalore guys chose it), and I had a chance to sample several dishes at several settings.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Excellent guide, bbulkow.

                I noticed also there how distinct was the Cambodian cuisine from Thai. Cambodia has a much older culture, I understand, and some culinary connections to Indonesia.

                This influence was evident at Tommy Thai even in the restaurant's versions of some standard Thai dishes, where unfamiliar elements like black pepper could appear.

                (I too wish restaurants would just stick to the proper heat levels for the dish -- and also, drop that newfangled BS about last-minute "choice of proteins" in dishes that if done right, were simmered for hours with one "choice of protein" -- but I also dislike decent restaurants going out of business, to which I guess some dumbing-down of cuisine is the preferable, if imperfect, alternative.)

            3. Popup Cafe hosted some Cambodian soup ladies early on. They're not very savvy there about using social media to inform people what's going on, so the only way to find out if they are back in rotation is to walk by or call them up.

              http://www.popupcafesf.com/

              1. Angkor Borei (in La Lengua, .8 miles south of 24th and Mission) : I had the prahok and ahmohk last Sunday, and they're consistently good. It would be worth reading through some old threads for tips... they don't give many non-English names on the menu, and its tough to figure out what's cooked differently than stuff at Thai or Vietnamese places. http://www.cambodiankitchen.com/Menu....

                Battambang : I had a meal last year here that wowed me. I revisited many of the same dishes this past May and had good stuff, but the flavors weren't as bold.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914107
                http://www.themenupage.com/battambang...

                3 Replies
                1. re: hyperbowler

                  er, 8 BLOCKS south of 24th and Mission?

                  1. re: soupçon

                    My bad.... it's 1.1 miles. (Bonus tip: if you go for lunch, grab some Portuguese snacks at Cafe st. Jorge across the street)

                  2. re: hyperbowler

                    The great thing about Battambang is that it's a short walk from the 12th street BART station, which makes it more convenient to downtown SF than many parts of the City.

                  3. I ate at Angkor-Borei maybe two years ago and it was still the same and the same lady.

                    If you can make it to San Pablo, Ran Kanom for Thai. Otherwise, Lers Ros on Larkin and/or House of Thai (formerly Thai House Express, no change of ownership at that branch) a couple of blocks away.

                    Chinese:

                    Yum's Bistro in Fremont for Cantonese seafood:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673106

                    Great China in Berkeley for Korean-Chinese specialties and more:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/928067

                    Yank Sing in SF for dim sum:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7321...

                    1. You might want to try the boat noodles at Zen Yai Thai and compare them to those at Pye Boat Noodles in Astoria.

                      I don't think we top NYC in many Chinese food categories these days, but I'd suggest Bund Shanghai and Shanghai House might have better Shanghainese than you are accustomed to. It might also be fun to compare the new Terra Cotta Warrior on Irving St. with Xi'an Famous Foods or Biang for Shaanxi suisine.

                      FWIW, another cuisine NY is deficient in that SF is particularly rich in is Burmese. Here's a list of 10 places to get Burmese food in SF I complied recently:

                      http://geezericious.blogspot.com/2014...

                      I wish we could swap a couple of Burmese places for a couple of your Sri Lankan places. That's a big hole in our lineup here.

                      47 Replies
                      1. re: soupçon

                        My favorite Burmese place is Little Yangon in Daly City, which is an easy stop if you're driving to or from SFO.

                        Burmese Kitchen in SF is my second-favorite.

                        1. re: soupçon

                          Actually New York is pretty gruesome when it comes to Cantonese food (except Cafe Hong Kong, and depending how you want to categorize Red Farm). Both cities have Hakkasan so they cancel each other out.) There's probably at least a dozen or two or three or more traditional dim sum and Cantonese places in the Bay Area better than what you can get in New York. Koi Palace in Daly City, of course, Yank Sing in downtown and Hong Kong Lounge in the Richmond district. Even Lai Hong Lounge in Chinatown towers over New York for dim sum. Even on the decline, the restaurants on El Camino Real in Millbrae, such as Hong Kong Flower Lounge (technically with a Millbrae Ave. address), Asian Pearl, The Kitchen and Zen Peninsula have no New York equivalent. Besides being higher quality than New York, they also have much more in the way of innovative dishes. Cooking Papa in Foster City, Mountain View or Santa Clara for great Hong Kong homestyle cuisine you won't come close to anywhere in New York. Also there are plenty of regional varieties in the Bay Area that aren't known in Flushing or Manhattan. For example, Shandong style beef rolls are ubiquitous in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, but I haven't found any in New York. Same for fish dumplings and Guilin rice noodle soup. I'm sure the list goes on and on. Shanghai and Sichuan I'd stick with New York.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            Agree with you on Sichuan, but where have you had better Shanghainese in NY than at Shanghai House or Bund Shanghai?

                            1. re: soupçon

                              Shanghai Heiping and 456 Shanghai, both on Mott St. are quite good. Not sure if they're better than Bund Shanghai or Shanghai House, but any difference would be incremental, as opposed to the Cantonese gap which is cataclysmic, and the other regional items which don't even exist in New York.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                Taste of Guilin in Sunset Park has been around for a couple of years, and I would be surprised if there wasn't someplace in Flushing where Shandong beef rolls could be found.

                                1. re: soupçon

                                  456 on Mott actually has something almost like a beef roll as does a fried dumpling place in Flushing called Jie Jie Sheng. Still, except for Dongbei, Henan, Sichuan, Wenzhou and XFF and its offshoot, Flushing is behind California in regional cuisines. Can you think of any Beijing style food there? Also surprisingly short of Taiwanese food given Flushing's Taiwanese origins. So while there is some stuff you can get in Flushing that you don't see in California, I think it's much more going the other way.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    "except for Dongbei, Henan, Sichuan, Wenzhou and XFF and its offshoot...."

                                    I rest my case.

                                    1. re: soupçon

                                      Well, to summarize, the underlying issue was whether someone coming from New York should bother with the Chinese food in the Bay Area. My point is that the Chinese food here is vastly superior to New York, though that's a general statement and does not apply to certain regional categories. Plus the variety of dishes available here is much broader. So certainly the answer to the basic question is resoundingly "Yes".

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        "whether someone coming from New York should bother with the Chinese food in the Bay Area."

                                        FWIW, I recall that buttertart has lived in the Bay Area. And is a linguistic scholar in Chinese languages, and incidentally even knew or had academic connections to the great linguist Yuen Ren Chao (1892-1982). The guy who began the demystification of Chinese cuisine in the US after WW2, coining such terms as pot sticker and stir-fry.

                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                          Yes, but relative merits of the different areas change over time. In the 1980s, New York was top dog for Chinese food, San Francisco was a close second, and Los Angeles was a distant third. Angelinos would talk about what Chinese restaurants to eat at in New York. Now the top three cities have been turned on their head. And in the past decade, Houston has come out of nowhere and possibly passed up New York for Chinese food, at least in quality, though not quantity.

                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                            There's a large contingent of opinion on this board that Asian food is better in NYC than here. The opinion is so strong that even when people who live/lived in both places come back to the Bay hankering for Asian food, there are people trying to convince them it's a bad idea.

                                            I'm not sure why that is. I will say, though, to the OP that rapidly the best Asian food is found in far flung suburbs far away from anything else (e.g. Fremont, Milpitas, San Mateo - San Jose) Unfortunately those suburbs don't have much else going on =P

                                            1. re: goldangl95

                                              That may be true for certain pockets of food. Maybe Korean, but I don't know. For Chinese food, it's probably worthwhile for somebody from here to try some of the fusion type places, as well as Red Farm, Decoy, and maybe some of the high end Sichuan places in Manhattan outside of Chinatown. But California Chinese who move to New York are fairly uniform that as far as everyday Chinese dining goes, they'd clearly rather be here than there.

                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                Do not forget either that (housing the largest Chinese-émigré community in the Americas since the 1870s) SF had Cantonese food before most New Yorkers had even heard of chop suey, and before Los Angeles, in the modern sense, existed. Moreover the big invasion of Sichuanese cooking into the US in the 1970s made inroads here as well as in NYC, though some of those pioneering restaurants are memories today, not a part of the world-view from which come suggestions of hip current Bay Area Sichuanese restaurants on CH. (If I recall from a years-ago thread, buttertart was acquainted with some of that 1970s Sichuanese wave here.)

                                                The good Sichuanese restaurants here too (continuing goldangl's point) often are located in parts of the Bay Area away from SF, Oakland, or Berkeley. But so is most of the Bay Area's population, nowadays.

                                            2. re: eatzalot

                                              My credentials are not that august. Amateur not professional.

                                              1. re: eatzalot

                                                Chao's physician wife was known as the "author" of the 1945 book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese.

                                              2. re: Chandavkl

                                                "does not apply to certain regional categories"

                                                My suspicion is that your biases lead you to regard non-Cantonese Chinese cuisines as trivial. Even for Cantonese food, my sense is that SF peaked in the early 1990s when we had Happy Valley (the forerunner of Koi Palace), Harbor Village, and dim sum palaces Gold Mountain, Miriwa and the Stockton St. Canton Tea House simultaneous with today's survivors like Yank Sing and Great Eastern.

                                                I wouldn't go so far as to say New York has surpassed SF in Cantonese food, but for the overall mix, I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I hit Flushing.

                                                I can't see the OP getting her socks knocked off by Chinese food here.

                                                  1. re: soupçon

                                                    Don't get me wrong. I love going to Flushing to get stuff you can't get in California, and to go through the unparalleled food courts. I even wrote an article on how wonderful Flushing Chinatown is. But taking the Chinese food scene as a whole, the Bay Area is way ahead of New York. Why else would one of the Village Voice Chinese food critics, a California transplant (Taiwanese, not Cantonese) categorically describe New York Chinese food as "crappy"? Why would a Chinese radio producer who moved from SF to NY recently comment sarcastically about NY Chinese food. Why would an Asian TV food/travel hostess now living in NY make critical remarks about New York Chinese food? Because they've all had better. So a New Yorker who's interested in Chinese food should take the opportunity to eat Chinese food in the Bay Area.

                                          2. re: Chandavkl

                                            I love Shanghai Heping. Their fish wrapped in tofu skin and fried (fu yi huang yu) is to die for.

                                        2. re: Chandavkl

                                          Perhaps because the Cantonese population is declining?

                                          The population in Manhattan’s Chinese did fall 22% from 2000 to 2010 as gentrification continues.

                                          NYC has great Fujian, Northeastern Chinese and Xian food as well.

                                          (I will have to explore more this Shandong Beef roll - I have never seen it offered in the Shandong restaurants in NYC - and it is not on the menu at the M&T in Roland Heights, CA either.)

                                          While Manhattan's Chinatown saw declining numbers, the Asian population continues to be the fastest growing segment of the population in NYC - now 15% of the total population in NYC. (45% of all Asians in NYC are Chinese.) 77% of all Chinese in NYC now live in Queens or Brooklyn.

                                          According to the 2010 Census, the Chinese population in NYC grew 33% from 2000 to 2010: 350,000 to 475,000. Add Sunset Park East and Bensonhurst West to destination areas as they now now have more Chinese than Manhattan’s Chinatown. Figures cited are from the Asian American Federation.

                                          AAF:
                                          http://www.aafny.org/index.asp

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            Clearly as I have written, Cantonese influence is waning nationwide, particularly as a percentage of the population of virtually all Chinese American communities. Historically San Francisco has been the most Cantonese of the Chinese communities, while New York was the first of the historic Chinese communities to move away from its Cantonese bent. Consequently, one would expect the Cantonese food gap to be very wide between New York and San Francisco. Forgetting Cantonese vs. non-Cantonese, my main issue with New York Chinese food is actually the lack of innovative dishes. There are dozens, if not hundreds of places in California to get Shandong beef rolls. Dozens selling fish dumplings, which I've never found in New York. Maybe a hundred or two serving French cut filet mignon in California (as well as the unfortunately and improperly named French style shrimp and French style fish), which I haven't spied in New York. Other new common dishes in California include egg whites with imitation shark fin, and the use of dried fish skin as a condiment in vegetable dishes (though I have seen whole fish skin appetizers in New York). Bamboo pith dishes are popular out here, not sure if they've hit New York. And the list goes on and on.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              Bamboo pith is so over!

                                              I guess all NYC can offer for the time being is the Shanghai style one made with a thin pancake, at 456 on Mott Street. Photo below. I think there are innovative ideas being executed through the house specials that some Chinese restaurants (particularly in the Fuzhou and Northeastern Chinese joints) offer.

                                               
                                            2. re: scoopG

                                              Something the Bay Area desperately needs are food trucks, stalls, etc. specializing in one or two types of street food items. In general, our ~20 varieties of regional Chinese restaurants ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/975114 ) try to wear so many hats that their consistency and quality often suffers.

                                              The moniker "Shandong beef roll" has yet to catch on in SF, but the same dish as "Shandong beef roll" is called "beef rolls" or "beef pancakes." Some places that have a rolled pancake with beef, cucumber, & hoisin inside are listed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892914 . Media-savvy M.Y. China is the only place that calls this dish a "Shandong beef roll" to my knowledge and they put out a tasty version.

                                              The terminology may become uniform as this dish spreads--- everyone should read Chandavkl's enlightening commentary (using this dish as an example) in: http://www.menuism.com/blog/who-reall...

                                              I don't want to take this off topic, so here's some info to continue the beef roll discussion on the Outer Borough board:

                                              It looks like this food stand at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn has stuff that could be considered a "Shandong beef roll":
                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/outer-borough...

                                              There were others, but some other mentions of scallion pancakes with beef in Outer Borough that I confirmed as in scope with y*lp pictures:
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857776
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8495...

                                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                                Those beef rolls are pretty popular in Vancouver where I eat most of my Chinese food but the term "Shandong" is not in usual use here AFAIK. You can find versions at Taiwanese, Shanghainese and Sichuan restaurants fairly easily. I don't recall seeing them on any Cantonese menus. There is one place that does a phenomenal version with Sichuan style potato shreds, which is a variation worth seeking out if this is becoming a "thing" in the SFBA.

                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                  since Master Chan, as close to an authority we're likely to see here, noted that those beef rolls don't really originate from Shandong, that name probably is probably not the ideal moniker for wide spread standardization.

                                                  1. re: moto

                                                    You've actually put a finger on a larger issue--lack of standardized names for these dishes at various Chinese restaurants. You see a lot of other descriptions, like beef rolls and beef pancakes. The trouble is that the beef roll or beef pancake (or beef whatever) often turns out to be something different from what is widely referred to as the Shandong beef roll. Incidentally, my guess as to the Shandong beef roll name is that it originated at 101 Noodle Express, which is often referred to as a Shandong style restaurant. Actually this is a timeless problem. I remember the days before chow fun became widely known, and where it was called on some menus with names like "Chinese pancakes" and "chow tay".

                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      'I remember the days before chow fun became widely known, and where it was called on some menus with names like "Chinese pancakes" and "chow tay". '

                                                      I am curious, when and where are you referring to, Chandavkl?

                                                      (Chow fun has been popular, under that name, around the Bay Area since at least the early 1980s, maybe considerably longer -- that was just when I started paying attention to it.)

                                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                                        I ran into those terms in the mid to late 1970s. One of them was at a restaurant on Race Street in Philadelphia Chinatown and I'm thinking the other was on Wentworth St. in Chicago Chinatown. Unfortunately I didn't document my findings back then like I do now. Heck I didn't even record the names of the restaurants I ate at back then. Thank goodness for credit card slips and old telephone directories.

                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                          Are you saying that while you did not run into the term, say "chow fun" - do you think the dish did not exist or perhaps it was under a different name - Chinese or English?

                                                      2. re: Chandavkl

                                                        To the extent that the Internet is an iota reliable...

                                                        "Shandong Beef Roll" or "Shandong style beef roll" was popularized when J. Gold used the term in March 2006. He was talking about 101 Noodle Express (their menu lists it as 牛肉捲餅 Niu rou juan bing "beef roll bread/pie"): http://www.laweekly.com/2006-03-02/ea...

                                                        There's no internet history of that term until after Gold's article. Hounds refer to such a dish as early as 2001 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/47824 ), but even in reference to 101 Noodle Express, don't call it a "Shandong Beef Roll" until after the Gold piece.

                                                        It's funny--- the Chinese characters at M.Y. China directly translates to "Shandong Beef Roll," something that must confuse Chinese readers not from LA. But less confusing than the slop we NYers grew up eating as "chow mein" http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/629916

                                                        See also
                                                        http://www.laweekly.com/2009-10-15/ea...

                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                          Actually historically in South Florida, chow mein was a noodleless dish. Probably what was referred to elsewhere as chop suey. Floridians wanting noodles would order lo mein. This was true at least into the 1990s.

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                            Wow! Noodle-less "chow mein" is new to me.

                                                            Admittedly I don't immediately think of Florida among places with a lot of history of China contact. In early days of California as a US state, as a principal Pacific-Ocean deep port for N. America, SF had such regular commerce with China (Southern China especially) that large SF institutions would send linens there to be laundered (it served the ships as ballast, and the labor prices were rather different at the two ends). As a young child, I had Bay Area relatives who could remember those days (pre-1900), and would have loved to talk about it. Too late now, of course.

                                                            1. re: eatzalot

                                                              While Chinese generally settled only certain parts of the country in any numbers during the early 20th century (e.g. California, New York), most every city of any size in the US had one or more Chinese restaurants. Indeed, one author suggests that some regional Chinese business organizations would parcel out restaurant territory to its constituent business owners so there would not be excessive competition in any local area.

                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                While Chinese generally settled only certain parts of the country in any numbers during the early 20th century (e.g. California, New York)
                                                                ________________________________________

                                                                Where are you getting your information?

                                                                The Chinese footprint is all over the old American West in the 19th century. They fanned out from San Francisco in large numbers. In the 1850’s thirty fishing camps were established on the California coast. They opened a fish processing plant in Monterey Bay. The first Chinese language newspaper, The China Daily News began circulating in Sacramento in 1856. Ah Bing developed a cherry hybrid in Oregon in 1875 – known today as the Bing Cherry. The Chinese were the first to realize the value of the wild mustard that grows in Napa Valley.

                                                                Chinese miners were among the first “foreigners” to settle in Oregon (1852) Nevada (1855) and Idaho (1859.) Chinese mining camps were also established in the Washington territory, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Alaska.

                                                                They brought both Chinese medicine, which was highly valued by the White settlers and a gambling game called White Pigeon Ticket, or as it is known today: Keno. Restaurateur Quong Gee Kee was well known in Tombstone (AZ) and friendly with Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers. He died at age 96 in 1938 and was buried in Boothill Cemetery. Chuck Ah Fong was widely respected in Idaho as a physician, apothecary and acupuncturist and upon his wife’s death in 1902 more than a thousand people, including the Governor, attended her funeral.

                                                                It’s all here:

                                                                Kuo, John Wei Tchen. New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture 1776-1882. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

                                                                Kwong, Peter and Miscevic. Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Oldest Community.” New York: The New Press, 2005

                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                  Having published a number of articles on Chinese American history in the 1970s and 1980s I know where you're coming from in regards to 19th century history. But having traveled most of the 50 states in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, I went to many, many places where Chinese people were an oddity. Indeed, in most of the places I visited in those years there were few, if any Asian faces of any kind on the street. Memphis. Martinsburg WV. Sioux City. Fargo. Pensacola. Akron. Charleston SC. Cheyenne. Eau Claire. Paducah. El Paso. Little Rock. But they all had Chinese restaurants. That's the only point I was trying to make.

                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                    Now you are saying something different it seems...

                                                                    Anecdotal experience is often spectacular but usually not representative. What direct primary research have you done outside of your own personal experience? What direct archival research can you provide - that established historians I have cited can offer on both fronts?

                                                                    Are not your "published articles" mostly self-published and on the web only? Anything that I have read by you (while interesting) is your view of the Chinese-American culinary experience. So I would call you an editorialist, not a documentarian or historian.

                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                      My writings were all pre-internet age, published primarily by the Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. My main areas were the Chinese Exclusion Laws and the Chinese in Los Angeles (which makes sense if you read my food articles), though I also published a piece on the depiction of Chinatowns in picture post cards. It's hard to imagine today, when Chinese are a conspicuous presence in areas like California and New York and a visible presence in so many communities, of how it used to be and how it felt to be a Chinese American. When I was kid there were 5,000 Chinese in LA out of nearly 2 million people. Now there's over 400,000 in the LA area alone. I felt like an oddity even in LA but at least there were at least a few other Chinese around. But traveling the country was even stranger since in many cases you were the first Chinese person that many people had encountered. That's what I was referring to in talking about the lack of Chinese in so many parts of the country back then. Indeed in many of the cities I visited the only Asian faces I saw were in Chinese restaurants, which is the real reason why I started to become interested in Chinese food.

                                                                  2. re: scoopG

                                                                    the general reader (neither you nor Master Chan) might not know that Chinese immigration (particularly against women) was not prohibited in the 1870s and 1880s, which is why they were visible not just in the western states and territories but wherever there was cheap rail or water transportation access, including the southeastern states. the effects from the prohibitions in effect until 1965 were still apparent in many regions into the 1970s, and normalization between the countries in the mid/late 70s accelerated the demographic changes further.

                                                                    1. re: moto

                                                                      Because the pre-exclusion immigration was largely of adult males, that magnified the actual presence of Chinese in the US, leading in large part to the Exclusion Act. You can see the impact on the Chinese restaurant industry in the near exclusive use of waiters (as opposed to waitresses) in Chinese restaurants for years after the end of exclusion. Indeed I still vividly remember the first time I ever saw a Chinese waitress. 1960s, Ming Palace, Houston, Texas. I was stunned.

                                                                      1. re: moto

                                                                        Thanks. In the interest of clarification, the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. Chinese were now “free” to immigrate but at the old 1924 law, which was based on numbers from the 1890 census, which was minimal. The War Brides Act of 1945 allowed some 7500 Chinese women who had married American servicemen to emigrate. The McCarran-Waller Act of 1952 allowed greater numbers of Chinese students in to study.

                                                                  3. re: eatzalot

                                                                    Actually before the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, dirty laundry was shipped from San Francisco to Hongkong for processing. It was faster from San Francisco to Hongkong by ship than it was from the east coast of the US to San Francisco – as ships had to sail around Cape Horn until the Panama Canal opened in 1914. Long before then, the Chinese cornered the market in domestic laundries in the US.

                                                        2. re: hyperbowler

                                                          The favorite beef pancake closest within 5 miles of my house is at iDumpling in RWC. It's savory and drippy and the crust has a nice crunch. It's not rolled, though.

                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                            Found a pic on y*lp, bbulkow: is this it? http://www.yelp.ca/biz_photos/i-dumpl... I've never had a flat one before. Does it still have cukes and hoisin?

                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                              Yes, No, No, which is to say, iDumpling doesn't go in for much frippery. They will give you proper scallions n vinegar with your dumplings.

                                                          2. re: hyperbowler

                                                            Z&Y, a place I would recommend to the OP, has these beef rolls that are to die for.

                                                    2. hey bt - it's been a while since I've eaten at Z&Y for Sichuan, but if you're going to head into the East Bay anyway, our favorite is China Village in Albany. here's a thread that gets updated pretty regularly: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9077...

                                                      and another:
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/924995

                                                      and here's their menu:
                                                      http://chinavillagealbany.com/menu/

                                                      I'll second the recommendations for Lers Ros.
                                                      looking forward to Jai Yun!

                                                      1. are you interested or not in Lao or Burmese food ?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: moto

                                                          Any Southeast Asian, all interesting.

                                                        2. Let's meet at Shanghai House for lunching on salt and pepper pig knuckle.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Thanks everyone, I will take all of this into consideration...and thanks for not posting "read the threads, you lazy thing" which is what a similar request would most likely be met with on the Manhattan board. The Bay Area rules :)

                                                            1. I ate at Battambang in November of last year. Here's my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9141...

                                                              Looks like I thought it was very good, especially the pumpkin dessert. But I still prefer Angkor Borei. At Angkor Borei, I always get the ahmok with fish, which I think is consistently fantastic there. The prahok is also good, and the appetizers like squid salad and papaya salad are nice too. Also like the spinach leaves appetizer. Curries there are fine, but not as special in my opinion. Same with the stir-fried dishes.

                                                              I agree with others that having some Burmese food is worthwhile here in SF too if you're coming from NYC.

                                                              Hope you have a great time, and let us know where you eat.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                                Little Yangon in Daly City is closed on Tuesdays... also closed: Shanghai House...Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous... we had three Tuesday strikeouts.
                                                                The home run out of the ballpark was Angkor Borei with three cheers for their 30-year run.
                                                                http://www.cambodiankitchen.com/

                                                                Tuesday lunch at Angkor Borei: Chicken Salad, Crispy Cambodian Crepe, Duck Prik King, Prahok, Ahmohk, rice, and beers.

                                                                Ice creams at Humphry Slocombe at the Ferry Building...
                                                                Candied Ginger, Blue Bottle Vietnamese, McEvoy Olive Oil
                                                                http://www.humphryslocombe.com/www.hu...

                                                                1. re: Cynsa

                                                                  Wonderful food with wonderful guides!

                                                              2. in addition to our delightful lunch at Angkor Borei, we had lunch at Lers Ros (quail with fried garlic, glass noodle and ground pork salad, and wild boar in red curry -- this last was not quite as good as the others, the meat was tough); dinner at Rangoon Superstars in Berkeley (tea leaf salad, chicken with mint, shrimp with garlic and eggplant, lemongrass tofu); and lunch at Battambang (very spicy beef salad, quail stuffed with pork and noodles, tofu and mixed veg in red curry, and a delicious tender fish amok). Everything was excellent and most things quite different from NY versions, when such exist. Thank you all. Too bad there wasn't more time.