A Favorite Cantonese Dish in San Francisco?

We lunched at a neighborhood favorite in SF Visitation Valley at G & L Bakery & Restaurant - steamed fish, oxtails, scrambled egg and beef for comfort foods. Next to try: my favorite hom yu/steamed pork with salted fish.
198 Leland Avenue, SF
What is your go-to Cantonese dish to order?

Crispy noodles with mixed seafood. I was a big fan of the version at L&L Seafood in El Cerrito, but they cut back on the seafood. It used to be a generous amount of rockfish, shrimp, scallops and squid, but now it’s mostly squid and it’s kind of tough. I’ve also had good versions at Saigon Seafood Harbor in Richmond and at some place in the Ranch 99 complex. And at the lamented Hong Kong cafe whose name I don’t recall, also in El Cerrito.

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Are you thinking of Jac’s Kitchen, or something like that, in El Cerrito? That place wasn’t bad and had huge portions.

I love crispy noodles as well. Hong Kong style crispy noodles are possibly my favorite dish of any cuisine, and I try to get it only once or twice a year so as to savor it each time. The gravy and noodles are what I seek, and I’ve accepted that toppings usually are meh. I’ll check out Saigon Seafood Harbor in Richmond.

Last week, I indulged in the the beef with black pepper sauce Hong Kong style pan fried noodles at Cooking Papa in Foster City. The noodles were 30% gravy saturated and 70% crispy when the clock started ticking. That ratio was perfect for getting saturated, mid-saturated, and crisp noodles all in one bite. I could haven taken or left the beef itself, but the gravy hit the spot, and wasn’t an MSG bomb. It still had some crispy bits left when I was done eating.


I like the pan fried rice noodle version of this. Crunchy on the bottom (and sometimes also on top). Usually get this with XO sauce and beef at Hong Kong lounge 2 (sf). Have seen it at Saigon seafood (richmond ) also.

Yes, the EC place was called Jac’s Wok. Goofiest menu around–you could get spaghetti with a pork chop and brown gravy, borscht, lots of noodle dishes but especially the pan-fried ones. I guess Hong Kong cafes represent the fusion of the Chinese and English cultures there. I looked in the kitchen once and saw industrial-sized containers of MSG…

Steamed spot shrimp, if they have them live in the tanks. Stir-fried clams. And ong choy (water spinach) with fermented bean curd.

I’m also rather fond of braised sea cucumber, but they have to be a certain kind of sea cucumber so I usually don’t bother ordering it.

Indeed- the fusion cuisine is called Soy Sauce Western!


Great article, thanks!

Duck with crunchy duck fat fried rice at (of all places) Progress (sf). Sliced rare duck breast, not shredded. Is it Cantonese? Maybe not, but my favorite fried rice in the area. Another favorite dish: beef brisket in broth with daikon at R&G lounge (sf). Well marbled chunks, almost always tender, garlicky.

A semi-rare dish. Deep fried duck stuffed with taro. Your meat and starch in one bite. Delicious!!

A CH friend reminds me about scrambled eggs with shrimp, a deceptively simple dish, just shrimp and eggs, but the synergy really works.


This is a tough question… Well, I like good wonton for sure, but so far I have only found reasonably good wonton in SF, but not great wonton. Probably because I was looking at the wrong places (like Chinatown). I love Cantonese Dim Sum in general and have found very nice Dim Sum in SF. I also like steamed fresh fish like Grouper.

If I have to pick one dish, then maybe steamed grouper? Or “grouper with two eat” – steamed grouper filet and grouper fish soup (using bones and fins?

Scrambled eggs (with gravy) and sauteed hor fun- more synergy!

Have you had wonton (and/or dumpling) soup at Ming-tai on Noriega and 32nd? I’m no expert, but that’s my favorite wonton soup. I get the wonton and dumpling noodle soup. The service is atrocious, even by Chinese restaurant standards. Really really slow. And I just bring my own water bottle to avoid having to beg for water. But the wontons and big dumplings are really good.

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Thanks. No, I have not. I can definitely visit it the next time I visit SF If you ever visit NY Manhattan and wish to try some wonton, then I recommend Wonton Village (粥麵軒) at Manhattan Chinatown. The wonton filling was intact, but not tight. The skin was never broken. The stock was flavorful, but not too salty. Yellow chive was used instead of green onion…etc.

Not necessarily my favorite Cantonese dish, but the one I order most is the Chicken and Roasted Duck Jook at Cooking Papa in Foster City. Great comfort food.

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Was pleasantly surprised at the quality and flavor of dim sum at S&T Hong Kong Seafood a few Sundays ago. The lobster lo mein was surprisingly bland (needed salt or msg…), but the radish cake, chicken feet, and dumplings were good.

Also, the S&P chicken wings were great! Super juicy, flavorful, and crispy. I’m a fan of naked fried wings.

That looks like a typical Hong Kong cafe menu, influenced as much by Russian refugees via Shanghai as by the English. The “borchst” would probably be beet-less and more like a tomato soup.

Here’s a pretty good overview of the evolution of HK “western-style” cafes from the L.A. Times several years ago.

That article makes some bold claims, with no evidence. And is highly exaggerated.

Those Russian Cafes in Kowloon might have introduced borscht and Russian-style cakes to Hong Kong, but they certainly didn’t introduce Western style food, nor the generic “Continental” cuisine and American-style steakhouses that provided the basis for Canto-Western restaurants and most of the dishes on their menus.

I read somewhere that DD’s, one of the most famous Russian restaurants in Shanghais French Concession, hired chefs who jumped ship from Italian ships. And my MIL recalls first encountering spaghetti at a Russian cafe.

I don’t think anyone would want to take credit for macaroni soup for breakfast, however.