There is a lot of food associated with San Francisco. And rightly so. Hidden among those monstrous mountains the locals refer to as hills lie some of the city’s finest secrets. This was actually my third visit to this beautiful city by the bay and I was determined to eat as much as my gluttonous soul could hold.
I tried to be more selective and not eat nearly so much on this day because I’m pretty convinced now that in one of my past lives, I was the inspiration for the naming of the last of the deadly sins: gluttony.
On this day, I woke and thought, “I’ve only had dim sum once in SF (at the Mayflower in Outer Richmond). Maybe it’s time to try out a place in Chinatown.” I found a highly rated dim sum joint on Yelp and decided to hoof it from my hotel room, which was not very far away. In NYC, this would not be a long or arduous walk, especially on a lovely day. But NYC is flat. In SF, such a walk is a bit more … aerobic thanks to the mountain-hills. Only the thought of lovely steamed har gow (crystal shrimp dumplings), siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), and har cheung (shrimp wrapped in rice noodle) and maybe a gai bao (steamed bun stuffed with chicken and shiitake mushroom) kept me going. The only thing all this exercise did was make me even hungrier and more impulsive about buying food. Sorta like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Not a good idea.
I found my destination and immediately ordered all the food I mentioned above:
From top to bottom: har cheung, siu mai, and har gao
I discovered after buying a metric ton of food that House of Dim Sum, which is mostly take-out but does have dine-in service, was NOT the place I’d read about on Yelp; the place I was looking for was across the street. Whoops. Turns out House of Dim Sum has not-so-good reviews and rightly so. I didn’t feel so good after eating the har gao, which tasted funny. The pork in the siu mai was a little fatty but as I like my siu mai a wee bit on the fatty side anyway, this did not bother me at all. I was kind of meh on the har cheung–I wouldn’t go out of my way to order these again despite these being my favorite dish (They also didn’t include the lightly sweetened soy sauce that normally accompanies har cheung. I guess you have to ask for it?). Ditto for the gai bao. The flavor wasn’t quite right; it wasn’t seasoned as well as I’m used to, and whoever made it really skimped on the ingredients. In addition, the texture wasn’t quite right. I ate all the siu mai and a few of the har cheung. The rest went into the garbage.
I was deeply disappointed (and a little bit embarrassed) by this dim sum experience. I guess you could say I’m mega-spoiled when it comes to good Chinese food. My dad won’t put up with the crappy stuff; as long as a restaurant continues to turn out excellent dim sum, he will return over and over again because at heart, he is a creature of habit. But the minute he notices the food quality is starting to slip, he’ll mention it once to the manager and if on a subsequent visit it doesn’t improve, he simply doesn’t go back. There are just too many wonderful Chinese restaurants in NYC to continue patronizing one that compromises on quality.
I almost hesitate to divulge the name of my next stop: San Tung, whose owners are Koreans raised in China and make The. Most. Awesome. Chicken. Wings. EVER. If you like Bon Chon or Kyo Chon (both are Korean fried chicken chain restaurants), you’ll love San Tung. Shatteringly crisp despite being coated with a savory-sweet sauce, their wings are juicy, flavorful, and tender, and so good, I would want these at my wedding reception should such a momentous occasion occur. I called A and asked if I could bring some wings over as part of that night’s dinner. As expected, the answer was yes and could I get some fried dumplings too? 😀
Though I didn’t order it this time, San Tung’s dry-fried string beans are also out of this world
Oh man, these wings… sigh….
That night’s dinner table
On my way to the bus that would take me to my friends’ home, I passed a little shop called Peasant Pies that sells…POT PIES!! They’re actually pasties (pronounced PASS-tees) which are little savory turnovers filled with various, uh, fillings. I purchased ones containing curried potato, spinach and feta, and beef pot pie and put those into my magic tote bag for midnight snackage before continuing on my way to A’s house.
Look how happy it was to get into my belly!
And as I’d promised myself, I munched on the curried potato pot pie for my midnight snack.