San Tung Chinese Restaurant

Wow, this is my second Chinese food post within a short amount of time, I didn’t plan this.

I swear.

It’s just that I recently stumbled upon this article on 7×7’s website discussing the top 10 places to get a good meal under $10 in my neighborhood, the Inner Sunset.

I am pleased to say that in the 8 or so months that I have lived in the neighborhood, I have tried half of the restaurants mentioned. Not too bad for someone who usually cooks at home.

Just putting it out there, I love good Chinese food. Trouble is, I have had very little good Chinese food in my day – despite the fact that I live in San Francisco for Christ’s sake! I believe excellent Chinese cuisine exists, the problem is if I am ordering Chinese its because I don’t want to cook and I am hungry. So it needs to be close – by way of delivery or within a few blocks of my house.

A few months ago, I was suffering from a bad case of the stomach flu, so my dear friend Scott drove me home. Scott has been working in the kitchen for the better part of 10 years and knows the best places to eat in the city so when he says a place is tasty I take his word for it. No questions asked (except for what I should order).

While he was driving me through my neighborhood he was pointing out various places where delectable morsels could be found, but since I was on the verge of barfing I wasn’t retaining much of the tidbits he was throwing out. I vaguely recall him mentioning a Chinese place where you could order any, and he meant ANY, part of a chicken dry fried.

A week later, when I was up for eating real food again I wracked my brain for the name of the place he had mentioned. Because of my decrepit condition at the time, I couldn’t for the life of me remember which Chinese place he had pointed out amidst the dozens that dot the streets of my neighborhood.

So bless the foodie gods who dropped the 7×7 article in my lap, for it talks about the very same restaurant!

Which brings me, finally, to the afternoon lunch Matt and I spent at San Tung.

When we walked in I noticed that we were the only non-Asian patrons in there, I took this as a good sign. If the food is authentic enough for those from the same culture, its good enough for me.

We were seated at a table with some other people sitting there. Sort of family style, we just didn’t share food. While I was scoping out what they ordered I noticed the illustrious dry fried chicken and I drooled a little bit.

(For a look at the complete menu, click here).

San Tung has an extensive lunch menu so we couldn’t help but take advantage of the cheaper prices. As we scanned our options we sipped on some beautiful Hot and Sour Soup.

This is one of my favorite soups, I have been know to eat it by the quart. Tofu, peas, willow tree fungus, bamboo shoots, and delicate whipped egg swam happily in a tangy yet slightly spicy broth.

In between sips of soup we nibbled on some complementary kimchi. Both of us LOVE this stuff so much, I think we asked for 3 plates throughout the course of the meal.

Neither of us were starving, but next thing we knew we had ordered 4 dishes, plus rice!

I pray my waistline will forgive me.

Our order went a little like this:

The lunch menu special of Curry Shrimp – complete with crunchy onions, green bell pepper, and thinly sliced carrots. Unlike a lot of places offering shrimp, San Tung did an upstanding job of not overcooking the succulent meat. The sweetness of the shrimp and the slight kick of the curry were quite the pair atop a small mound of rice.

We got brave and ordered cold Pig’s Ear with a five spice rub and soy garlic sauce. The flavor was nice, but preparation was not my cup of tea. The fat on the ear was slightly congealed giving each bite an overly gelatinous mouth feel. I’d try it again, but I think I would prefer them fried.

The star of the meal was hands down the dry fried chicken Scott recommended. By far the most wonderful fried chicken my mouth has ever had the pleasure of meeting. The golden brown, perfectly crisped skin burst open to reveal tender and juicy meat. We ordered the sauce on the side, which is definitely the way to go. Doing so allowed us to appreciate the heavenly taste of the meat on its own. The sauce though. The sauce. Whole chilies, diced green onion, and minced garlic basked in a sweet yet spicy sauce that clung to every crevice of the chicken each time we let the two meet. This is the dish that will keep me running back to San Tung again, and again.

A little background – I adore nuts. Nut butters, nut sauces, nut flours, candied or spiced nuts, nuts in my yogurt, nuts baked into sweet treats – you name it, I’m nuts for nuts. The 7×7 article praised the Noodles with Peanut Sauce so of course we just had to order it. I was giddy with excitement for these house made noodles topped with shrimp, baby scallops, water chestnuts, mushrooms, onions and peas smothered in a spiced peanut sauce to arrive at our table.

By the time our other dishes arrived the lunch rush hit, and hit hard, so every employee was running around in a frenzy, giving us no opportunity to inquire about our noodles. It was only when we were finished with our meal that a waiter dropped them at the table topped with a handful of julienned cucumber, but without an explanation as to why they were so late.

The dish certainly looked good, but the sauce did not live up to my nutty expectations. The sauce was lackluster – overly spiced and watered down and the noodles held no texture, turning to mush before I even had a chance to chew. Perhaps a result of the overwhelming rush, but I was disappointed.

Working as a waitress in a restaurant, I understand that things get chaotic and mistakes happen on occasion. Having been on both sides of the dining experience though, I believe that an apology goes a long way and I would have left a much happier customer if one had been provided.

We packed up our leftovers (all 5 boxes of it) and nibbled on fortune cookies after we paid and headed out. As a firm believer in second chances, I have no trouble saying that San Tung hasn’t seen the last of me. I fully intend on returning soon to reunite my taste buds and with that dry fried chicken and give those noodles another try. Maybe I will just try ordering earlier in the day.

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Mission Chinese Food

Last semester, I did a multimedia piece for the iPad edition of Xpress Magazine (the website is the beginning stages) all about Mission Chinese Food and pop up culture in San Francisco.

Here it is!

While walking down Mission Street it is easy to overlook an old yellow awning bearing the name Lung Shan Restaurant in peeling letters; it is a business wedged between a consignment shop and yet another burrito joint. Nestled humbly underneath the overhang however is a hidden gem, Mission Chinese Food.

 
Operating every day except Wednesday, this Americanized Chinese cuisine pop up is the latest project Anthony Myint has taken on with his head chef Danny Bowien. The menu consists of dishes like Thrice Cooked Bacon, Salt Cod Fried Rice, and Sizzling Cumin Lamb – a dish that literally comes to the table bubbling and spitting its flavor. While delicious meats are their forte, Mission Chinese offers vegan/vegetarian options upon request.

The vibe inside is something quite unique, Lung Shan and Mission Chinese employees work in tight collaboration popping out dishes at much appreciated speed. It amazes me, yet doesn’t surprise me how well they all seem to peacefully coexist, after a little over a year of sharing a space, they have their routine down pat.

 
Mission Chinese is not the first to take over a kitchen; in recent years, young chefs have been commandeering underused kitchens and re-purposing them for their own uses all over San Francisco. These make-shift eateries are win-win for the building owners and the chefs, allowing them to provide up-and-coming culinary geniuses a great way to experiment with more outlandish menu choices without the risk of bankruptcy, and generate extra cash flow and notoriety for the original restaurant.

*I apologize for the shotty sound quality, the original audio got messed up.

Mission Chinese operates Thursday-Tuesday 11:30 a.m.– 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.– 10:30 p.m. at 2234 Mission Street inside Lung Shan Restaurant.

In case you all needed further proof that this place is awesome, GQ recently rated Mission Chinese Food as one of the best restaurants in America.

And for those of you on the East Coast (ok, just those of you in New York), great news! Mission Chinese is opening a location on the Lower East Side!

RAW Food Challenge Day 7

Hi all!

I am so sorry this is a day late, yesterday just got away from me!

But my last day went so very well!

I am happy to report that I survived this long week of raw food!

So, what did I eat on my final day?

Breakfast: Overnight Oats with Blueberries, Almond Flour, Spices, and Honey

I decided to start (in a sense) where I began, with some overnight oats. Remember Day 1 where I made overnight oats with chia seeds, apple, spices, and agave nectar? I thought it would be rather poetic of me to come full circle and do a variation of that.

Blueberries and Almond Flour sounded like a nice combo, and so it was

I pulled some Almond Milk Overnight Oats out and loaded them up with the goods

1 cup Overnight Oats

1 cup Almond Milk

1/3 cup Almond Flour

1/2 cup Blueberries

1 tsp Raw Honey

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp All-Spice

Tiny wedge of Lemon, optional

This breakfast was another one of my favorites, and it was kind of inspired by a blueberry crumble almost. It really was perfect.

My man has been eating raw with me for some of my meals and this one was by far his favorite as well, I practically had to pry the bowl out of his hands ’cause he was lovin’ it so much!

Seriously though, I could eat this any day of the week. No question.

Lunch: Cucumber Sandwich with Tahini, Spinach, Sprouts, Tomato, and Dill

I love sandwiches. Truly. If there was one thing I could eat for the rest of my life it would be a sandwich (it was a toss up between a sandwich and a salad). I just think they are the perfect meal since you can put pretty much whatever the heck you want in them and they will still be so wonderful and contained between 2 pieces of bread, or something along those lines.

Think about it. It’s true.

So my lunch was an interpretation of the glorious ‘wich.

I made myself a sandwich alright, but instead of bread, my outside layer was a cucumber.

Inventive, huh?

I took a cucumber, sliced it in half lengthwise and gutted it

Then I took some of my raw homemade Tahini sauce and used that as my spread

I was gonna just lay some whole spinach leaves on top of that, but then I pulled them out of the bundle and they were HUGE! Oh my word, I’m just used to baby spinach ’cause these leaves look massive!

I gave a few leaves a rough chop and that was that.

I added some clover sprouts and sliced cherry tomato on top of that, and of course a nice sprinkling of dill!

I would recommend eating it as an open faced sandwich, since you can’t really squish cucumber to fit in your mouth the way you can with bread!

It was definitely an interesting looking sandwich, that is not only fun and great tasting!

Matt and I enjoyed it on a picnic bench in the back of the Ferry Building while basking in the fair spring weather and watching the Bay after perusing all of the shops inside.

After walking around some more and staring at all the things I couldn’t yet eat, we decided to head out for dinner.

Dinner: Sashimi

Since it was my last night on the raw challenge, Matt and I went to our favorite sushi restaurant. The guys who work here love us. For real. It’s great, every time we go there they hook it up with more free food than we can handle!

It was a little sad having to say no to it all, but sweet boy Matthew got to indulge without me.

I opted for a sashimi plate with Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon, and Red Snapper, I drizzled some fresh lemon juice on top and they were good to go.

I remembered a few bites in that the restaurant would obviously have some nori so I asked for a few sheets of it to make my own rice-less sushi.

Like I said, I’m not the best sushi roller

Usually after sushi I am stuffed (though that stuffed feeling doesn’t last too long since it goes through ya so quickly) but after just the sashimi, I felt great. Full but not on the verge of a food coma.

I was a good girl and cleaned my whole plate!

Matthew was a good boy too and cleaned his plate, but they took it away before I could take a sweet shot of him with it.

It was a long day that ended very well, and overall it was a great week too.

I’m so glad I went raw for a week, it was such an amazing experience that taught me more than I would’ve expected.

More to come on my raw feelings in the next post!

What are your favorite fish to eat as sashimi?