At the back of the hill

Warning: May contain traces of soy, wheat, lecithin and tree nuts. That you are here
strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton.
And that you might like cheese-doodles.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Usually I get off the bus at Stockton and Clay Streets, along with a massive discorgement of other people. That corner sees more transitees than almost any other. 
What I do at that point is immediately look for something to eat.
Perhaps you do too?
It’s a good central locus from which to spread out hunting for lunch.
Which, of course, is one of the main reasons why we're here.
There are a number of places in the neighborhood where I like to go.
I shall not pretend that they are the very best - you probably have your own favourites and will disagree with my likes - but they appeal to me for a variety of different reasons.
One of which is that I’ve eaten there so often they’re like my living room.
Another is a fondness for the food and the people.

Here’s a short list.


815 Stockton Street, between Clay and Sacramento.
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-399-1511
[Fook Cheung Dim-sam]

Small snack place with three tables, and not a huge variety of items by noon.  Most of their business is early in the morning, but there are locals who drop by for a quick lunch of rice porridge (粥 juk) or soup.
I like the chicken buns (雞包 gai bau) and the fresh shrimp rice sheet-noodle (鮮蝦腸粉 sin haa cheung fan), but their fried glutinous rice dough sesame balls (煎堆 jin dui) are also very good, especially when new and warm. It's a good place to sit observing the foot-traffic on the street out in front and listen in on the conversations between the owners and the customers - it attracts people who do not speak the same languages as the staff, in addition to Toishan speakers.
Nice snacks tend to do that.
Attract people.


930 Stockton Street, between Clay and Washington
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-308-3819, 415-828-0856, 415-986-2783
[Kam Wa Dim-sam Faai Tsan]

Deep and narrow, with a selection of dimsum and bakery items in the counter cases.  Basically a canteen, but one with some excellent stuff.  Good for people-watching, too.
The fresh cilantro rice sheet-noodle (香茜腸粉 heung sai cheung fan) is beautiful and fragrant, and they make some delicious lunch items: glutinous rice with chicken in a lotus leaf (糯米雞 lo mai gai) and black bean spare rib steamed rice (豆豉排骨蒸飯 dau si pai gwat tsing fan).


839 Clay Street between Waverly Place and Hang Ah Alley
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-6269
[King To Tsan-kwun]

The salt and pepper chicken wings are well known, but the main reason to go here is because it's one of the very few old-style places left with counter-seating. If you've been around Chinatown a while you recognize the kind of place. Homey, comfortable, decent food and decent service at a decent price. Their rice plates are good.
I frequently have the fish and fresh vegetables over rice (菜遠蘢利魚飯).
During the afternoon it's a nice quiet place to eat.


139 Waverly Place, between Clay and Washington
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-956-2902
[Sam Mun-yi Juk]

Hahm yu yiuk bing pochai fan (鹹魚肉餅煲仔飯), am-tseung pochai fan (鵪春煲仔飯), sang-gwan gaptai jook (生滚及弟粥), siu-ngaap wantan mien (燒鴨雲吞麵), leung-gwa pan kau fan (涼瓜斑球飯).
A brightly lit bustling place with good food and a happy atmosphere. Very Hong Kong.
Normally I simply order the bitter melon and fish rice plate, with some hot milk tea (香港奶茶 heung kong nai cha).
I'm keen to try their other stuff, but as I usually eat alone, it might be a bit much.
Their Fukien Fried Rice is good, but needs another person.


848 Washington Street, between Stockton and Grant, Corner of Ross Alley
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-296-8228
[Saam-Yeung Ka-fei Tsan-ok]

A plethora of noodly stuff, Vietnamese Chinese dishes, and well-known stir-fry choices.  Plus interesting chilled drinks, Vietnamese coffee (越南咖啡 Yuet Naam kafei), and cold milk tea (凍紅茶奶 tung hong-cha nai).
A large enough menu that everyone can be happy.
If you're by yourself, order the rice stick noodles in broth with grilled pork (燒猪肉河粉 siu chü yiuk ho fan) and Vietnamese coffee.
Use half the ice from the glass meant for the coffee in order to cool the soup, so that you don't scald your lips.
Then cut up the grilled pork to chopstickable size, and mix Sriracha hotsauce, hoisin sauce, and chili oil for dipping.
Pour the finished coffee into the now severely reduced glass of ice.
And dig in with soup spoon and chopsticks.


710 Kearny Street, between Clay Street and the Hilton Hotel
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-981-0531
[Tzoi Hing Wong Mo Kai Fan]

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: phở gà.  A big bowl of superior broth, rice stick noodles, chicken shreds, scallion, cilantro, slivered red onion.  Plus Vietnamese ice-coffee.
They also have a menu filled with other things.  But the chicken stock is outstanding.


640 Jackson Street
San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-982-0618
[Seung-Hoi Fan-diem]

Garlic chives dumplings (韭菜豬肉水餃 gau tsoi chu yiuk sui gaau).  With hot sauce.
Perfect snack.  Perfect for one person.  Perfect on a cold night.
Oh yeah. Other stuff too.  They're a Shanghainese restaurant, and they make good food.
I think this might be a perfect place to take someone adventurous sometime.


779 Clay Street, just below Grant
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-398-7918
[Wah-Kee Siu-kwun]

A classic quick and satisfying soup dish: salted snow cabbage and pork shreds in broth with noodles (雪菜肉絲湯米粉 suut tsoi yiuk si tong mai fan).  Yes, they also have other things, and it's a nice small cozy restaurant.  Good food.
A lovely destination for a date with a small feminine person.
Not that that has ever happened.


601 Kearny Street, at the corner of Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-3455
[Bo Ma Hoi-sin Tsan-teng]

Basically a weekday lunch place, but they're open till nine at night. The food is honest, but not exceptional. These are decent people providing a decent product.
I'm rather fond of this place. It does something for me, and I like the people who run it.
What I usually get is the steamed pork patty with salt fish (鹹魚蒸肉餅 haahm yu tsing yiuk bing) or an order of stir-fried kailan with fish curls (蘭芯斑球 lan sam pan kau), and a bowl of rice.
Simple, and delicious.


732 Jackson Street, between Stockton and Grant
San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-986-3759. ]
[Yong Gei Gou Fan Diem]

I've only had their big chicken buns once or twice.
But I purely love their salt egg in a flaky pastry crust (鹹蛋酥 haahm dan sou).


607 Jackson Street, between Grant and Kearney
San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-989-8388
[Yan Yam Sai-bing Min-bau]

Probably the best wife cake (老婆餅lo poh beng) in San Francisco.  They also do good pineapple buns (菠蘿包 bo lo bau) and absolutely scrumptious preserved egg flakies (蛋黃酥 pei dan sou), plus a variety of interesting and tasty Hong Kong style bakery items.
Clean, bright, comfy, and small.  Pleasant to stay a while, listening to tourists desperately trying to figure out what the various delicious offerings are.


720 Grant Avenue at the corner of Commercial Alley
San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-433-7973
[Tung Ah Bing Ga]

Coffee crunch cake, pies, all the usual Chinatown bakery items, and excellent mooncakes during the season.
This place has been around forever.
I am very fond of their red bean pastries (豆沙餠 dau sa bing) and lotus seed pastries (莲蓉餠 lienyong bing).

Well, that's twelve places.
Please let me know what your favourites are.
And whether you object to the smell of a pipe afterwards.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Note as of September 23, 2012:

    Yong Kee closed down a few months ago.
    From what I hear it's the typical story of many Chinatown businesses.

    The owners retired, the younger generation was not interested in continuing the business.

    Sad. But there will be other places that can be discovered.
    I'll miss the hahmdansou, though.

  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    A more complete review of the Capital Restaurant is here: 京都餐館.

    I eat there a lot.


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