Andy's Chinese Restaurant (Old KL restaurant?) [South San Francisco, CA]

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#1

A block away from the bustling commercial hot spot of South San Francisco (Yes, that Costco on El Camino and Hickey), there’s this little restaurant in an unassuming strip mall. There use to be a D’s (or DS) market right next to the restaurant, and they had easy access to their seafood tanks; unfortunately they were replaced by a cleaner Grocery Outlet (that lacks a seafood deapartment…). You wouldn’t assume too much from this restaurant, just your typical Chinese-American cuisine, but my folks just found out that they had a recent management change.

We have never actually gone to the original restaurant, but talking with the waiters, they claim they are from the past KL Restaurant (Ah Yee Leng Tong) in SF (Balboa and 45th). There are two menus in the restaurant, one more for the Americanized-Chinese dishes and a separate one page menu with assorted Chinese dishes (they even have Shanghai dumplings though I haven’t tried it). However, unlike the past restaurant, they do not have any double boiled soup if you sit down and eat–you need to preorder them. Intrigued, I decided to give it a shot this past weekend.

My folks went with the double boiled soup that had coconut, chicken, and pork as their main ingredients. I often forget how many items goes into a double boiled soup, but wow that’s a lot of bits. Coconut wasn’t really soft but had a nice chew (great if you love coconut). With a dash of soy sauce, the meat was okay, but honestly most of the good bits have been strained out already!

Steamed for who knows how long, the ingredients eventually gets distilled into this rather clear liquid. The soup had the savory chicken and pork background with coconut essence. Hit the spot in this chilly weather. I don’t actually know the full list of soups that they actually do, talking with the waiters, they do a wintermelon soup and a double boiled sea whelk soup. Two soups that I’m especially fond of, so I’ll definitely try that next.

Following our soup, we ordered an ox tail claypot with red wine. The dish was okay, as the ox tail was quite tender. However, the sauce was a little on the sweeter side and there were more potatoes than I expected.

My folks actually ate here twice before I actually tried it out, but they liked their pan fried oysters with green beans (I can’t recall if it was called Szechuan style or Typhoon shelter). The relatively large oysters had a crispy exterior and juicy interior. Coupled with the savory bits of pork and the slight spiciness of the peppers, it was a very delicious dish.

After the oysters, we ordered the five taste chicken. According (and suggested) by the waiter, they use long kong chicken. Diced up, with a good bit of herbs and spices, the chicken was was cooked fairly well, not too dry (except the breast meat). I can only really detect three distinct flavors/aromas with the leeks giving a great smell. There was a hint of spiciness, a little sour, and mostly savory. I think there a hint of basil, but just overcoming a cold, I think you’re better off asking someone else for the full flavors.

Ah the veggie dish was a bit of a surprise. We ordered the large snow pea leaves with superior broth and hey it comes with pork and shitake mushrooms as well. The pork might look a little dry, but in fact, it was tender and had seemed to absorb the superior broth. The large pea leaves were not stringy at all! A nice surprise.

Lastly, we preordered a black bass for our meal (there aren’t really any tanks in this place). I was also sitting the furthest away from the waiter so uh… you get the chopped up and ready to serve fish photo… At any rate, the fish was fairly well done, but I think it was steamed just a little bit too long (maybe a half a minute earlier would’ve been the difference maker). In any case, the middle thicker portion of the fish was great, but the thinner ends were a little bit cooked.

There wasn’t really any dessert soups (we could have asked for fortune cookies I guess).

Overall, a very satisfactory meal with a quite respectable bill (I recall around $130 after tax). Highlights of the meal included the soup, oysters, and superior stock veggies with the low point being the ox tail. Note, if you want any seafood items and/or double boiled soups you have to call ahead.


(Gary Soup) #2

Looks worth checking out. I always felt K L was one of the most underrated Chinese restaurants in SF, both for dim sum and dinners, particularly their seafood-intensive wo choys.


#3

Note, I don’t think they do dim sum anymore and I didn’t see a wo choy menu, but hopefully as more people go there for that, they bring it back.


#4

Please do share your experiences when you have a chance to try those two. BTW, how big is the soup?


#5

We had a party of 5 I think we were able to get at least 8-10 bowls of soup (I didn’t pay much attention to who got another bowl). The bowls weren’t too big though, but it seemed reasonably sized. I don’t know if they upsize it if there is a bigger party or just bring out two of them. We inquired about the wintermelon soup price and they quoted around 45ish bucks which was surprisingly low but I have no idea how it tastes.

Will report back in the next time I’m around.


(Derek Durst ) #6

Thank you for your informative post and great photos…this has entered my must try list… question…was the Chinese/Chinese menu in English? (I Hope!)


#7

Yeah it was or I’d have a hard time figuring things out lol (I really should brush up and improve…)


#8

Derek, there is only one menu. We had three dishes today. I friend once told me of one of there dishes he recommend. Tomato Beef Chow Mein (Hong Kong style) with a dash of curry. Peking Style Goat not sheep more of gamey taste.

I asked about the double boiled soup there is only a four hour lead time required. So you can order the same day.

You should try it someday soon Derek.

They also have Yee Foo Won Ton soup which now rare to find.


(Derek Durst ) #9

Fried wonton in soup one of my favorite “Old School” soups…very satisfying on so many levels!


#10

I recall seeing a separate one page list with a few other dishes as well besides their main menu.


#11

Yes but it is in English no Chinese menu in sight.


(Gary Soup) #12

I always thought Tomato Beef Chow Mein was an American Chinese restaurant invention. How does he HK version differ (other than tne dash of curry)?


#13

I don’t think I have seen this dish in Hong Kong.


#14

I can only think of the differences with maybe the noodles. Some restaurants tend to call the HK style noodles as the thin crispy egg noodles whereas regular noodles tend to be thicker and not crispy.


#15

All there is adding a dash of curry to the dish, When ordering in Chinese it is Tomato Beef Crispy Noodle with Curry. The first times I have this dish is when my Uncle order it when I was a kid. That was before the Hong Kong style of noodles but I like it better with the crispy noodles. You are right that is American invention. I tried ordering in Canada and in Hong Kong and they did not understand until I have to explain it.


(Gary Soup) #16

Actually, I recall that the menus 50 years ago gave you the choice of "pan fried or “crispy noodles.” I always ordered the “pan fried” because I assumed the “crispy” would be the deep fried noodles like they used in school cafeterias (andcame from a Chun King can). I wasn’t familiar with the “semi-crispy” HK style of noodles in those days.

ckcm


#17

Maybe I used the wrong term in crispy noodles. The correct term is noodles “brown or yellow” on both sides. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. That is what Hong Kong style noodles are called. Crispy noodles are more like deep fried. Also the noodles in the Hong Kong style is the wonton noodles and the American style is a thick noodle and in my opinion a little to filling for my taste.


#18

That Chun King package brings back memories from my youth. My brother and I were allowed to have it for dinner when my father was on the road traveling. I’m sure it was awful, but we loved the novelty.


(Gary Soup) #19

Yes, I learned to love the HK style chow mein for its mix of soft and crunchy textures, especially when topped with seafood.

I wouldn’t call the thicker, pan -fried noodles “American” because they are similar to the style used for chow mein in Shanghai and probably most of the mainland.

I consider the two to be separate dishes because with the Shanghai/mainland style the toppings are stir fried with the noodles while in the HK style they are cooked separately and poured over the top of the noodles before serving.


#20

Just another follow up visit.

Its honestly a very small place, but I do believe this is the same Chinese name as the old KL restaurant (I haven’t ever been to KL though so feel free to correct me).

Another cold and chilly night, we decided this time to go for the double boiled cordyceps soup.

The soup was very good. I enjoyed this one far more than the coconut one. There was definitely notes of Shaoxing wine (Hua diao maybe? I can’t recall the difference…) and a tinge of ginger. Flavorful broth that is likely from the pork, chicken, and some sort of herb that I couldn’t quite tell. The meat from the soup may be a little dry, but I always enjoyed nibbling at it.

Saw another table grab this dish, and we figured might as well try it! The golden sand prawns and pumpkin was actually fairly good. The salted egg yolk gave a nice salty taste (I’d definitely recommend a bowl of rice) but was relatively lightly coated and crisp without too much oil residue. Shrimp and pumpkin were an interesting combo and I’d order this again if I’m in the mood for something fried.

Next we ordered the house special short ribs which simply reminded me of pan fried galbi. I wasn’t too certain what was so unique and special about their short ribs, but it was a sweet marinade and weren’t too overcooked. They tasted just fine, though its not a dish I’d order again.

Next up we have a seafood tofu clay pot which I enjoyed. Nothing too special about the stuff, just your typical frozen shrimp and squid with occasional chunks of fish mixed together with tofu in a nice oyster sauce gravy but in this cold weather, it definitely hits the spot.

And finally some added veggies to round out the fiber content of our meal. Gail lan cooked with sugar and rice wine that was cooked just right.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with Andy’s. The meal totaled a little less than 80 before tip and the restaurant is relatively accessible if you’re around this area (can always stop by Costco as well!). I’d definitely just come here for their double boiled soup!