One of my favourite restaurants in Chinatown is on Clay Street between Hang Ah Alley and Waverly Place. Which, if you think about it, is the very heart of the neighborhood, what with being just down from the bus stop that EVERYBODY gets off at, and slightly uphill from the herds of lumbering orcas ambulating on Grant Avenue at this time of year.
You know, there is more to Chinatown than just shops selling touristy garbage ... but if they don't know that already, they'll never find out, and probably have no need to know.
All of Holland is clogs and windmills, there's nothing in Belgium, and Paris means little bronze Eiffel Towers OR cartoon snails.
Italy? Coliseum on everything.
It's a restaurant where I have been probably over a hundred times. Their rice plates, which normally are lunch time only, are just marginally more at dinner time, and the prices are low enough that it won't strain the wallet.
A rice plate meal is just about perfect for the single diner, and in the evening there is plenty of seating at the counter.
839 Clay Street
San Francisco, CA 94108.
For the first time in a very long while I went there for lunch, at what is considered a normal lunch time. It was packed, and there was no room at the counter, so they directed me to a table.
The four person tables were normal people, one to four. The big round tables in the centre had parties of five or more non-Chinese, many of whom seemed to be speaking foreign languages besides English.
Yeah, I'm being a dick by saying stuff like that.
But I can read the menu in Chinese.
I ordered lamb chops.
['jin yeung paa
The lamb chops are one of three Friday specials in the Western Lunch Selection. As I mentioned to the owner's daughter, when she expressed surprise at seeing me there so early in the day, 我好中意小羊仔 ('ngo ho jung-yi siu-yeung jai
'; I really like lamb). Four small chops, nicely done, with a pile of rice and some blanched saang choi.
I may have had too much hot sauce, because dipping the nice tender fatty choplette into a puddle of sambal is sheerly addictive.
While eating, I listened in on a table of French people.
One of whom, I know now, is allergic to seafood.
"If allergic to seafood or other foods, please let us know in advance."
['yü deui hoisin waak sik-mat yau gwo-man, cheng yü gou-ji
It must be horrible to be so afflicted. There is just such a huge number of lovely edibles that come from the ocean, and Cantonese food really does fish and crustacean properly. One of the sheer joys of eating in Chinatown is the availability of fresh seafood.
The codfish collops with eggplant there are particularly good. Cod and sole, called dragon tongue fish (龍脷魚 'lung lei yü
') in Cantonese, stands-in for the South East Asian estuarine cobbler, which has similar flesh.
Combining fish and eggplant is common and quite scrumptious.
They also do steamed fish, steamed oysters, fried fish, mussels .....
Soups, stir-fried with black bean sauce, ginger & scallion .....
Plus lobsters, or fresh ginger-garlic crab in season.
Everything that Cantonese people love to eat.
French people too, when not allergic.
I really enjoyed my lunch. I was, in fact, happy as a clam.
The French people probably found the beef curry over rice, sweet and sour chicken over rice, and lemon chicken over rice very delicious too.
They should come back in the evening and have some Chinese food.
I particularly recommend the soy sauce chicken (not always available).
Or the steamed chicken with lap cheung (also not always).
Ask for pea-sprouts with garlic (seasonal).
蒜蓉豆苗 ('suen yung dau miu
I really really
like the Capital Restaurant.
The prices are good, the food is great.
And I really really
like lamb chops!
Years ago my ex went there a lot for lunch. She particularly liked the ox tail. But since she started seeing Wheelie Boy, she's hardly gone at all.
Wheelie Boy is "sensitive", and also has trouble with hillsides. Plus he worries about people inadvertently killing him, or poisoning him, or feeding him stuff his delicate digestive system can't handle .....
Lamb chops and rice would probably kill him.
Poor little limited dingus.
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