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.

Advertisements

Emmy’s Organics

I believe there are two types of people in the world

Those who reach for a salty snack when a rough day has gotten the best of them

And those who crave a sweet treat after a similar experience

I would place myself pretty firmly in the latter category, only occasionally dipping my toes on the salty side.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sugar addict, the general extent of my sweet intake consists of a few spoonfuls of ice cream before bed every once in a while.

Ok, you got me, sometimes its more than just a few spoonfuls.

So when I began my raw food challenge, I was a wee bit concerned about the lack of sweet stuff that would be available to me after what I was expecting to be a pretty stressful week with school and work.

Which is why I was thrilled when I discovered Emmy’s Organics a few days into my challenge.

What is Emmy’s?

“At emmy’s we are committed to YOU having it all. We pride ourselves on the quality, creativity & sustainability of the products we offer. In respect for our bodies & the earth, we use the finest non-GMO ingredients in everything we make & biodegradable, earth-friendly resources for our packaging. Our food is derived from nature, which in return nourishes us in the best way possible. Vegan & Gluten-free foods are our passion, so you can always feel good about choosing emmy’s. All of our goods are made in a certified vegan & gluten-free kitchen.”

The plot thickens, pretty much everything on their site is also RAW.

Yea, I know, AMAZING. I was so excited about the possibility of being able to indulge a little on this challenge, but also because I knew that if Emmy’s was as delicious as I had heard, I would acquire a new favorite snack!

The company also sells other products such as almond milk, granola, and super-fudge, but I was on their websites for two reasons: Chocolate Sauce and Macaroons.

Oh baby.

Original Dark Chocolate Sauce, uh huh, I ordered some of that.

I went a little crazy when I got to the macaroons.

I started off slow, but before I knew it I had 6 bags of macaroons in my cart! (They were just sampler bags, thank God).

Then I was patient and played the waiting game until my package arrived at my doorstep.

Sadly, it didn’t make it in time for my raw challenge. No matter, I still got down with them a few nights ago.

I started with the chocolate sauce

I took my first taste, letting it sit on my tongue for a moment enjoying the creamy rich texture and the sweet, but not cloyingly sugary flavor.

I took a second taste and was really blown away. THIS STUFF IS BETTER THAN THE UNHEALTHY VERSION.

Seriously. This chocolate sauce is incredible. Its smooth and chocolatey in the best kind of way. It tasted natural and not overly processed the way a lot of commercial chocolate sauces taste.

This stuff is heaven on earth. Its Chocolate Gold. In a jar.

After pairing it with a simple spoon the first time, I figured I should get a little more refined so I indulged during my midnight midterm study sesh and got down with some Granny Smith apple slices and the sauce – beautiful.

Buy it, love it, order more.

Now on to the macaroons!

My package arrived when Matt and I were about to leave to go to lunch with our friends Sohini and Kati, so I ripped the box open quickly and pulled a sampler out for all of us to try.

While waiting for our food to arrive I passed around a piece of the Dark Cacao flavor. And then begged Matt to take a pic of us girls holding our treat.

We all took our first bite, it was magic. Like the chocolate sauce, they didn’t taste raw at all. I forgot how good macaroons were and these, I would claim, are better. These macaroons tasted like Nutella and the coconut wasn’t too dry, so you didn’t choke on it when you tried to swallow.

Kati even commented, “are you sure these are actually raw?”

The others were all equally as scrumptious.

I know some people aren’t a fan of citrus and chocolate combinations, but I am. I’m pretty much a fan of chocolate and anything combinations, but that’s neither here nor there. This orange-choco combo was perfection, the citrus came through clear and bright, because its raw it was a very pure citrus flavor, none of that candied orange business going on in this lil’ macaroon! The smell and accompanying taste gave an overall fresh spring taste to the treat.

The Mint Chip – WOW! My mouth literally felt cold and fresh after biting into this. Who needs an after dinner mint when you can snack on this?! SO fragrant and delightful with the cacao nibs. I did notice though that after eating too much of this macaroon, I was left with a bit of a toothpaste aftertaste. I’m all for toothpaste aftertaste, after I brush my teeth, it was just a little odd knowing it was coming from a dessert this time. Overall though, very tasty.

Biting into this was like sticking my nose into the sweet shelf of an Indian spice cupboard, and I mean that in the best way. This was fantastic. Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Clove – OH MY! This had such a rich and warm flavor, the cardamom came through as the flavor frontrunner, but each spice played a beautiful note. This was Matt’s favorite, and I think visually this was mine with the abundance of spices visible atop the coconut.

The Choco Chili Macaroons, oh baby, they will get ya. When I opened the package, the macaroons smelled spicy, warm, and cinnamony all at once. I took my first bite of these and was like “ummm what the heck? They aren’t spicy at all.” Then the heat hit me, oh lordy, did it hit me. The Himalayan salt really came through in this one, balancing the heat. Don’t be afraid of this macaroon, it is absolutely wonderful if you like the spicy and sweet flavor contrast, Emmy’s does it oh so well. I would just recommend having a glass of milk nearby!

Lemon Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Lemon Ginger, you were hands down my favorite. This flavor was light and refreshing, a little light on the ginger, and heavy on the lemon, but I think I prefer it that way. These little things reminded me of the lemon bars of my childhood, sweet but unadulterated lemon tartness. Its love.

The Final Review: Basically folks, I love Emmy’s. They make great products at reasonable prices and best of all, they are a sweet snacks that leave you feeling guilt free! After I ordered online, I discovered that a market in the city sells them, so from now on you can bet I will be making a trip down there and stocking up on all this raw goodness! I’ll have to pick up some of their super-fudge and granola and let you all know what I think, but based on what I’ve tried so far, I’m expecting nothing less than excellence!

Have you ever tried Emmys? If so, what’s your favorite macaroon flavor?

Raw Tahini Sauce

As I mentioned in my RAW Food Challenge post one of the things I knew I was gonna miss when I started eating raw foods was sauce. Therefore, I have made a point to start preparing the ingredients I’ll need for raw sauces.

Today’s sauce of choice: Tahini

Last night I soaked

1 cup of sesame seeds in

2 cups of water

for 4 hours

Then, I drained out that water, rinsed the seeds and put them in the fridge to sprout overnight.

This morning I simply put the sprouted seeds and 1/2 a cup of cold-pressed Olive Oil in my trusty food processor and let it grind for about 4 minutes.

I also added the juice of 1/2 a lemon

And a pinch of salt

Because I don’t have the coveted Vitamix that all rawists talk about, my Tahini didn’t blend to a silky smooth paste.

So what, who cares?

Not me. That’s who.

I tested it, adjusted the lemon flavor (by adding a little more juice) and then deemed it good enough to top my Fruit and Veggie Salad, my lunch on Day 1 of the Raw Food Challenge, as dressing.

Want a closer look at this delicious stuff up close?

Yea, you do.

YUM

Wing Wings – The Only Way I Like Chicken On The Bone

Since I was a little girl I have been spoiled. My mother has always bought boneless chicken. I grew up thinking that was the norm and turning my nose up at anything that required me to eat around something that was slimy, hard, and inedible. When I moved up to San Francisco, I too bought boneless chicken breasts and nobody challenged me on it. Until Matt.

With his love of hot wings and getting messy with food in general I did my best to resist, but I knew that in the end I would eventually succumb to the bone.

His argument? The bone adds flavor. The bone gives you something to hold on to. And chicken wings are fun to deep fry.

How could I say no?

I couldn’t. But I did say yes with a fight. I am particular about sauce and with how the meat is fundamentally cooked. I prefer deep fried then doused in sauce and then baked to make ’em crispy again. This method has taken months to perfect.

Which brings me to the main star of the subject.

Wing Wings the new restaurant in Lower Haight opened today, June 15th.

I went, I saw, I sort of conquered.

Upon entering Matt and I were greeted by the girl at the cashier and the cool breeze from the open windows and ceiling fan. There was music playing loud, a wall full of Old Bay, and an employee giving a full blown description of every sauce to the man next to me.

Based on first impressions, Wing Wings got it right. By nature chicken wings are not sophisticated or formal and they are not clean. Wing Wings gets that. There were no tables or cloth napkins or waiters. Just some bar stools along counters on both walls, homemade looking sauce in containers, and lots of napkin dispensers. Simple and uncomplicated.

Now, don’t confuse uncomplicated with uninteresting. With 8 different sauces and 6 options for sides (not including the biscuits) Matt and I couldn’t try everything but let me tell you, I wanted to.

They offer the classic flavors like Buffalo (reg or hot), BBQ, and Wing Wing (their house special) but I was most interested in a few of their unique options – namely Angry Korean, Jerk, and Orange Miso.

After contemplating a little while Matt and I decided on the first two, leaving Orange Miso to be tried another day. We noticed the Ad-Ons underneath featured fresh chilies and OMG bacon, but we refrained for today since we wanted to focus on the flavor profiles of the wings themselves.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the chicken comes from Pitman Family Farms meaning that its all free range, air chilled and not frozen. And believe it or not endorsed by PETA. Seriously, how the hell do you get PETA to endorse the way an animal is killed? Kudos for sure on that one.

Even with using above average chicken, Wing Wings prices are still cheaper than most restaurants that feature wings. $6 for 5, $10 for 10, and $23 for 25.

I looked at the board listing the sides featuring the usual: Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, Coleslaw and Fried Plantains. Then I looked at Matt and came to the agreement that while the fried plantains intrigued me the most I had just made us some a few days ago. Macaroni and Coleslaw made the cut. So with two orders of hot wings, two sides and a can of soda for each of us in hand we headed out to Alamo Square Park to enjoy our meal –  cause it was just too nice outside not to.

All that glory in one little bag. How do they do it?

After settling on the grass we opened up that little brown bag to dig in. (Granted I sneaked a peak while in the shop to get a few pics…I just was so excited).

Here’s why:

For $2 each, I definitely wasn’t offended by the portions.

I wanted these Angry Korean wings all over me. That’s the only way to eat hot wings, don’t you know?

When Matt first opened the box I was a little confused…aren’t Jerk wings supposed to be like red or brown. We started thinking we had gotten the wrong order, that perhaps this was the Herb wings instead. I called them the next day and the woman on the phone explained that the Herb and Jerk were one in the same.

“The sauce is Jerk inspired but is really more like an Aioile ” she explained.

O.K. then it all made sense. She also let me in on a little secret, the Jerk wings with bacon bits on top was pure heaven. Seriously, I’m down.

I started on an Angry Korean wing and oh my sweet Jesus, it was so good. It was spicy, no doubt, but there was a rich component to the sauce like peanut oil that gave the flavor a full body of heat and then a mellow finish and in a way reminded me of Kimchi.  Sesame seeds and thin slices of chopped green onion were the perfect touch. I was giddy and smiling like a lunatic and holding fast to the wing in my hands. Oh and my order was only supposed to have 5 wings in it, but their were 6 in there. Best gift ever? Duh.

We switched boxes and I started on the Jerk wings. The flavors of scallons, herbs, garlic, and Habanero pepper all came cascading into my mouth on a river of smooth creamy sauce.

I liked the Korean sauce more and Matt had really looked reluctant handing me the Jerk chicken after he tried it, so we decided to switch back.

Next up where the side dishes. The macaroni was your usual mac salad with a mayo based sauce with no real kick, a nice compliment to the wings but nothing that I haven’t seen before. I did enjoy the addition of hard boiled egg pieces and slivers of carrot, they were an unexpected surprise. When we had finished the Jerk wings we scooped some of the mac into the leftover sauce and WOW, that was a bomb side dish.

Same goes for the coleslaw, the ingredients were diced rather than chopped and it had a vinegar based sauce which I gotta tell ya, I’m not the biggest fan of. But that’s just me, I like my slaw sliced thin and dressed in creamy sauce. We decided to do another little experiment and added some slaw to the left over Angry Korean sauce – same reaction as for the Jerk Mac. Hot damn, it was wonderful. Cool and crunchy with a heat from the wing sauce that followed through with the vinegar. It seriously was spicier on the slaw than the wings and I was into it. But it did cause me to chug down the rest of my root beer to quell the small fire in my mouth.

Not complaining. I would buy that on the daily.

After eatin’ everything I was stuffed and content and a little messy. But hey, isn’t that how you are supposed to feel after wings?

Overall, I think Wing Wings has some of the best wings I have ever tried with sauces that you just don’t find on store shelves. Their sides leave a little to the imagination but hey that’s not what are gonna be known for.

I’m just looking forward to the next sunny day I have off from work so I can go smother myself in sauce once again.