Friday, July 11, 2014
The noodles themselves, as usual, were the real star. It may be my bias toward thick noodles, but I feel that Xi An Gourmet's are among the best in the City, both in the making and in the cooking. For $6.99, they could have served me naked noodles with a salad mister and a salt and pepper shaker, and I would have been happy with my creation.
Where slurped: Xi An Gourmet, 3741 Geary Boulevard at 2nd Avenue, San Francisco
Sunday, July 6, 2014
China North Dumpling somehow dove beneath my radar after I took note of its opening about a year ago, coming as it did amid a spate of new Northern China, Shandong, Xi'an, and Xi'an-Shandong restaurants presenting their noodle credentials to me. Some recent online buzz about China North Dumpling reminded me I had not so much as set my foot in the door yet, so I headed to Noriega St. via the counter-intuitive and counter-clockwise 30 Stockton - 28 Nineteenth Avenue route to make amends and vet the hand-made noodles as my first mission after a couple of weeks of distractions.
When I had more time to parse the menu, I noticed that the other two beef noodle soups atop the noodle menu "Special Beef Noodle Soup" and simply "Beef Noodle Soup" translated to "red-cooked beef noodles" (possible a nod to Taiwanese beef noodles) and "clear broth" beef noodles, suggestive of a Lanzhou lamian style. Those two entries alone will justify a couple more visits to China North Dumpling, not to mention another 20 noodle options presented by the menu. I also noticed (from some online photos) that the restaurant's "Shanghai Style Chow Mein" looks like the real thing (meaning it looks pretty much like my wife's), but that'll be something, along with the "Shanghai Style Rice Cakes," to turn the whole family loose on in a future visit.
What with Shandong Deluxe, House of Pancake, House of Xian Dumpling, Xi'an Gourmet, Terra Cotta Warrior, Made in China and China North Dumpling emerging in the last 18 months or so, our cup of regional Chinese noodles runneth over. But who's complaining? I just wish they could cluster in a single neighborhood, or at least on a single bus route.
Where slurped: China North Dumpling, 1311-1315 Noriega St., San Francisco
Friday, June 20, 2014
It was Friday and that Pavlovian bell rang, but I recalled again that the reputedly peerless "only on Friday" bun bo Hue at Ha Nam Ninh may be becoming a dim memory, so I went to my bucket list and picked off Tin Vietnamese restaurant on Howard Street. Tin's location (and suspected gentrification role) as well as its menu descriptors suggested that this was a "gateway" restaurant, but it had ended up on my bucket list based on the recommendations of two people whose knowledge of Vietnamese food I highly trust. I only had to jump on the #30 Bus and I would be right there, and they had bun bo Hue on the menu.
When the soup arrived I inventoried the contents. It seemed a classic broth, red with chili and containing chopped cilantro and spring onions, onion slices and Vietnamese flora that I am not on a first name basis with. It tasted meaty with lemon-grassy undertones, and a little shy of spicy (though addition of the jalapeno slices brought it to the nasal drip-inducing stage). As I expected, there were no blood cubes adorning the bowl (hard to come by, even in the Tenderloin). As advertised, there was both rare, thinly sliced beef, and equally thinly sliced beef shank. Instead of a pig's knuckle, however, there were slices of pork pate (pork "bologna" on the menu). No blood nor bones were to be found in my bun bo Hue.
Overall, there were generous portions of the proteins, and everything (both meat and veggies) appeared to be fresh. the only thing that marred a strong, if slightly eccentric, bun bu Hue were the noodles. They were the right size, and in the right proportion to the broth, but on this occasion overcooked and too soft for my taste -- a fault easily avoided with due diligence.
Where slurped: Tin Vietnamese, 937 Howard St. nr. 6th St., San Francisco