Jian Bing / Dan Bing options in the Bay Area? [SF Bay Area]

Yes, there’s a separate thread about a new jian bing pop-up serving $8-$9 organic jian bings. I’ve suppressed my knee-jerk inclination to jump at this because it seems a bit too much cultural appropriation for me, up there with foie gras poutine and Kobe beef banh mi (yes, there was a place serving this in SF). A $8+ jian bing might work as a novelty item in an area with heavy tech money traffic, but I can’t yet bring myself to travel to the outer Sunset for something I’d pay 50¢ for in Shanghai.

However, this set me wondering about the availability of jan bing (or dan bing/ji dan bing as they are known in Shanghai) generally in the By Area. Ten years ago there was a remarkable place called Go Go Cafe in the ever-changing 19th & Irving area that had the youtiao-stuffed version on the menu for $4.50. (It was listed as “Scallion Crepe With Egg and Fried Bread” in English, and “jian bing gouzi” In Chinese). Unfortunately, Go Go Cafe closed 6 years ago.

Currently, there is a pedal-by-night operation in Berkeley, “Jian Bing Johny” who typically shows up on short notice at late-night events in the East Bay, and a takeaway stand in Oakland Chinatown selling jian bing guozi (the you tiao-stuffed version) for $4.45. I’ll probably get to the latter, but I’m really craving the crunchy fried wafer-stuffed version.

I’m wondering if anyone has spotted jian bing (or something listed that might be jian bing) on a Chinese restauraant menu in the Bay Area?

Tian Jin Dumplings in Oakland Chinatown (I think this is the takeaway stand you mentioned) has jian bing on their menu, stuffed with youtiao. I liked it but it was a little bready, may have suffered from the ride home. Very large portion and probably enough for a meal by itself.

P.S. I’m not sure a jian bing popup started by a Chinese immigrant counts as cultural appropriation :smile:

Jian Bing guo zi, with a you tiao doughnut inside:

  • Bei Fang Style, Outer Sunset
  • Boiling Beijing, San Bruno
  • Everyday Beijing, San Mateo
  • Soong Soong, San Jose
  • Tian Jin dumpling, Oakland

Jian bing with a crispy flat thing inside:


  • Shanghai restaurant, Oakland : “Dan Bing” is terrible, egg fried onto pre made dough
  • House of Pancakes, SF parkside, onion pancake with egg

The one I had recently at Bei Fang Style (pictured above), didn’t have enough interesting stuff inside.

Boiling Beijing uses pate in theirs, ask for extra, which rounds out all the flavors.

Has anyone tried the one at Beijing Restaurant recently and does anyone else use a crispy wafer, tofu skin or a fried wonton? Beijing Restaurant had inconsistent results in the past, but was still relatively good.

What’s it called on the menu at Beijing Restaurant? I have a hard time finding the items on their menu that everyone on these food sites talk about. I think because they translate them into English and simplify the name. There is a noodle dish at Beijing that I’ve seen written about that I would love to get. There are three items called something close to “Beijing Noodles” but I don’t know which one has the spicy meat sauce and cucumbers.

Edit to add: Just found it I think! There is a new section on the menu I got recently called “New Specialties.” Is it Beijing Street Crepe or Beijing Street Style Pancake with dipping Sauce? See what I mean about the translation? I know I’m missing out on lots of good stuff.

In Shanghai the crispy wafer is usually fried tofu skin, I believe. One of the main attractions of that style is the texture contrast between the wafer and the soft crepe. I always find the youtiao-stuffed version too heavy (carb-on-carb!).

It would make most sense for someone to equip a cart to SFDPH specs (like the Creme Brulee cart did) and do bings exclusively at outdoor venues. In fact, I’ve often thought of finding someone skilled a making jian bing and starting a Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign.

The Tai Chi jian bing looks inside out to me. The ones I’ve had in Shanghai always have the “stuff” inside so you can eat then by hand.


Here’s a strategy I use— I routinely show photos to servers to inquire about specific dishes. mainly from google image search, sometimes Hungry Onion, Chowhound, or Yelp (sometime my own photos!). The inconsistency between takeout and inside menus drives me crazy, and is one of the reasons I don’t post things like “#45 on the menu,” but please nudge folks if something we write about isn’t useful for you finding what we ate!

Last time I was at Beijing Restaurant, “Beijing noodles with special sauce” was the dish you are describing, kind of a spicy Chinese bolognese with cucumber (zha jiang mian, they’ll know what you mean if you ask for “zha jiang mian”, even if your pronunciation is off).

Im glad they updated the menu! The first time I had it, the Jian Bing was in a random spot near the front of the menu, but the photo looked cool and I ordered it. If you post a pic of their menu, I can confirm which of the two dishes you mentioned is the right one

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In this instance it’s the cloaking in all the organic/cage-free/fresh/local jargon plus the addition of stuff like avocado and tomato that I am referring to. It’s more “Californication” than cultural appropriation, I guess.

I find the Waygo OCR-based App pretty efficient in translating Chinese characters into pinyin and supplying an English translation.

I’ve had it within the last month at Beijing, and thought it as good as ever. But I’m no expert as I’ve never had Jiang Bing in China so can’t compare. Many expats at Beijing restaurant seem to approve.

Correction: Everyday Beijing only has it on weekends.

It looks like Jian Bing Johnny is now selling through Josephine, at least he is this Tuesday.
I enjoyed my version several years ago–with the crisp wafer interior, and a less salty saucing than Tian Jin in Oakland.

That seems pointless, since the jianbing experience requires that it be made to order for you when you reach the front of the line. Maybe its another way to avoid having cash in your skinny jeans, but it’s carrying cashlesss-ness a little too far, IMHO.

JB Johnny says he learned to make jianbing in Beijing, but does he make his with the egg on the inside, or the outside of the folded crepe as Tai Chi JB does? In Shanghai they are invariably made with the egg on the inside; to do it any other way seems wrong (not to mention messy).

If you read the offering on Josephine, you’re invited to go to the guy’s house and watch him make it, then eat it on his patio.

I had the same question on that would work out. I think Josephine the service is generally a pick-up model not a delivery model.

How’s the waitstaff at Beijing Restaurant these days? I’ve been lots and lots of times…the surly 20-something waiters are the only thing keeping me from going back at this point.

Yep, the last time we actually ate in the restaurant I swore I’d never do it again. Only take-out. Not only were they rude and surly, they were totally inept. It’s a small place. Shouldn’t be hard to wait on that few tables, but I watched all kinds of craziness.

The Jianbing Company is (alas) a New York outfit, but its beatifully designed website amounts to something of a tutorial on Shanghai-style jianbing (which I now know is technically a shāndōng záliáng jiānbing). The background video on the main page, which appears to be in real time, shows a woman making a dan bing in 54 seconds flat, down to handing it to the customer in the iconic little plastic bag with two handles.

Here’s some intelligence from the company’s website:

Jianbing has its heritage in northern China. If you’ve had jianbing in China, you’ve probably tasted jiānbing guǒzi (煎饼果子), which originated from Tianjin and is sold widely in Beijing. If you’re a real aficionado, you may also be familiar with shāndōng záliáng jiānbing (山东杂粮煎饼), which originated from Shandong province and has evolved into a staple of street food culture in Shanghai. The versions are quite different, and it was after I moved to Shanghai and began working that I discovered the crunchy, sweet-savory jianbing after which we’ve modeled our “Original” jianbing.

Nice to know I’m a “real aficionado.”"


Just noticed that the newly opened Village House (see my other post) has jian bing guozi on the menu for $5.95 It’s B04 (Savory Chinese Crepes) on the takeout menu.

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Golden Garlic, a Tianjin style restaurant with branches in North and West SJ also has the JianBingGuoZi (with crisp wafer inside).

In San Mateo, the original owners of Everyday Beijing supposedly opened up shop at Peking Alley and serve it as well.

As for ZhaJiangMian - it is a mess of translation from the generic Beijing noodles with special sauce to the more common Black Bean Sauce noodle. But the Chinese name and pronunciation of ZhaJiangMian will always get you the right one. (Although regional variations vary widely from its original Shandong version)

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The Savory Chinese Crepe B04 at Village House is no longer available. The Lamb Dumpling with Radish is also deleted from the menu.
I enjoyed the Lamb Dumplings with zucchini (12) to placate my disappointments.