The largest Chinatown outside of Asia
is found in San Francisco. The city that columnist Herb Caen called "Baghdad by the
Bay" boasts some of the most diverse, and incredible Asian cuisine in
the country. Miami, which has come late to the Asian-fusion trend with restaurants such as 2B Asian Bistro and Gigi, could learn something there.
Here are a couple of the most memorable, and unique, Asian eateries
around the city of San Francisco. We'll have more tomorrow, Saturday:
More than 80 kinds of dim sum are served in this Chinese restaurant located
in Union Square. Carts with show food are wheeled through the dining room by staff, wearing red vests and bow ties. Prices are not revealed when you order, so beware of choosing more than your belly can accommodate. We tried the beef
dumplings ($3.88) -- a trio of the softest stuffed pasta one will ever taste. The Chilean sea bass roll ($6.88)
included four pieces of delightfully deep fried goodness -- though of course the fish is disappearing so the place has little concern for sustainability. We also chose Chinese
broccoli ($5.88) and a modest dessert of sesame seed balls with red bean paste ($3.99). Excellent.
Service is questionable and tip is required. We had to wait 20 minutes for a check which came without prices. I had to walk to the register to pay.
138 Cyril Magnin Street, San Francisco
Far East Cafe
A jewel of
Chinatown, Far East Cafe offers an exceptional experience that
includes the best fried rice this food critic has ever tasted. And the decor so authentic and antiquated that you feel as if you're dining
in a Chinese museum. With the exception of a family dining in a
private room, we were the only party enjoying an early supper. Our
server was a cheeky Chinese man, who promptly offered a hot pot of
complimentary green tea on this rainy day. The westlake beef soup
($8.75) included minced beef, Chinese parsley, and egg flower. It was served in a generously large bowl that was brought steaming hot to the table
and ladled into two small bowls by the server. A touch
of soy sauce was added and the taste noticeably enhanced. The chicken
fried rice ($8.00) was light, fluffy, and had the perfect balance of
ingredients including scrambled egg, peas, and chicken. The Mongolian
beef ($12.95) is sauteed sliced beef with onion, green pepper, and a
chili sauce that makes the beef savory, but a bit spicy. Eating with
rice is recommended.
Far East Cafe
631 Grant Avenue, San Francisco