Off the menu seafood dinner at Cafe Broadway, SF Chinatown (Mantis Shrimp!)

Hey everyone,

Just thought I found an interesting place in San Francisco Chinatown. Usually Cafe Broadway is your typical good lunch spot for congee, wonton noodles, and other tasty carb-overload dishes. On occasion when eating lunch, I’ve noticed that there were some big tables reserved that had some fantastic looking seafood dishes (saw steamed razor clams with vermicelli, golden-yolk fried dungeness crab, and black bean steamed oysters). A bit odd at this type of place, especially with no displayed seafood menu anywhere, but curiosity overcame me and our family decided to try out a seafood dinner here.

Giving a quick call, it appears that they are willing to accommodate seafood cuisine if given a heads up, typically a day or so, but even as late as 4 pm (for courtesy sake, I’d try earlier). From what I can gather and speculate, the seafood is purchased from the nearby Chinatown fish markets (hence why an early call is suggested). There are no visible fish tanks seen in the restaurants.

Big surprise for our reservation though, they had mantis shrimp! I’ve only seen them once recently in the bay area (at Tai Yuan restaurant in Daly City and we only found that out after we were eating dinner and overhearing a server announce that fact to another table…). Asking the server about the mantis shrimp, they claim that they were flown in from around South East Asia and that’s about all I could find out (same info as Tai Yuan’s server). In any case, we decided to reserve that along with steamed fish and a dungeness crab and ordering whatever veggies they had when we arrived.

Starting off the dinner and unsure of a protein source, the waitress suggested a deep fried squab.

Usually, I don’t expect to eat squab from Chinatown, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not overcooked and fairly juicy, I was pretty happy with it overall.

Following that, we order mantis shrimp maggi-style.

Very well done, more of a wet style than a dry style. But the mantis shrimp weren’t overcooked and I am simply reminded of a few bites in Hong Kong (actually the plasticy plates we were eating out of reminded me of dai pai dongs)

Also since we got a little (very) greedy, we decided to try salt and pepper mantis shrimp.

Salt and pepper style was done fairly well, with little grease and a good amount of spice. These things were pretty tasty, though my preference is still with the maggi-style.

Over indulging per usual, we went gung-ho and gone for steamed crab as well.

Expecting vermicelli but getting some flat rice noodles was a treat. Went well with the garlic and the crab juices.

Following that, we went with some clear broth beef stew.

Not the most beautiful dish to view, but the taste was pretty spot on. The peppery broth gave the dish a nice kick, while the beef stew was not too tough and the radish absorbed the broth fairly well.

Lastly, finished the seafood feast with a simple steamed black bass.

The fish was not overcooked, and the ginger and scallions brought out the flavors nicely. Not my favorite fish to eat, but steamed well.

We ordered ong-choy with fermented tofu (not pictured) and that was on the saltier end, but still nicely done.

Honestly, I’m fairly surprised at this meal. I Did not imagine finding a well cooked seafood dinner (especially the rarely seen mantis shrimp!) in Chinatown. Very big props, though at our saturday dinner, there were only two waiters with a fairly smallish crowd. As we were preparing to leave, a small table next to us brought out some Hennessy and were enjoying their soon to be feast (they ordered the mantis shrimp as well). I’m sure they were regulars and knew what to order.

Has anyone seen mantis shrimp around the bay? Would love to try it at other places.


Wonderful find! Wonder if one can bring our own also? Now the question is what good live seafood is stocked by these markets nearby that presumably is where the seafood is sourced from. I am guessing special ordering good fish can be done since these markets have wholesale connection?

Do they at least have a tank inside the kitchen to store live seafood?

What’s the markup?

I think you can bring your own seafood and have them cook it. When we were eating lunch and the table next to us had some sort of fish head clay pot, I recall my folks asking the server and she said they brought in the fish. However, I’d ask to double check.

I honestly have no idea where the seafood is originally sourced from. I’m trying to think but I can’t recall anything too exotic in any of the Chinatown fish tanks. I’m staring at the pictures, maybe liang’s? They have a king crab in one of the pictures haha.

I can’t answer you about the tank, I never really peered inside.

Markup… dinner was around 300 I think with tip. The mantis shrimp were at uhm… a high price of 40 bucks a pound and we ate 3 lbs total. So that was the major portion of our meal alone. Removing that, and dinner turns out to be a bit more reasonable. I don’t recall the prices for the fish or the crab though.

I was going to ask about the price for the mantis shrimp. I’ve only had them in Polynesia and at least there, they are line caught one by one. They live solitary and are teased out of their hole and snagged with a barbed hook - labor intensive. I’ve never seen them here in the US - I’d be surprised if they came in live since they are actually a little dangerous too (very powerful).

At Cafe Broadway, it was 40 dollars a pound. When I saw them at Tai Yuan they were around 40 dollars a pound (it was closer to winter time when I recall seeing those). But wow, didn’t realize how they caught the mantis shrimp.

These are the rare and yummy Mantis Shrimps.  I

My friend has seen them live in Rosemead (SoCal) though at Seafood Paradise. I can’t recall seeing any in the bay though.

“The largest mantis shrimp ever caught had a length of 46 cm (18 in) and was caught in the Indian River near Fort Pierce, Florida, in the United States” (Wikipedia)

Here’s a mention of mantis shrimp on Koi Palace’s Yelp page:

Koi Palace deserves five stars for carrying mantis shrimp or what Cantonese people refer to as “pissing shrimp!” I’ve only had this while visiting HK/China and have never seen it in the Bay Area before. The manager claims that no other Chinese restaurant in the area takes the risk in carrying these, so Koi Palace is the place to go!

They are flown in on Thursdays and stay alive for about three days, so the best nights to come sample mantis shrimp would be on Friday or Saturday nights. The price is $38/lb., which is about 2-2.5 shrimps. They were huge!

Omigosh, mantis shrimp! My absolute favorite dish from Hong Kong. It would wonderful if we could get it here.

Huh, I wonder if its a delicacy somewhere along the gulf coast. I can’t recall ever hearing it though.

Wow, I don’t recall seeing those in Koi Palace for those past few years (the review’s from 2010), though I don’t go too often. I did however manage to swing by this weekend and just stared at the tank and asked. They didn’t have any this weekend.

Well… they are in the bay area, just rarely found if that’s what you’re implying. My SoCal friends have mentioned they have seen them far more often in the tanks down there though.

For pre-order:

I called and they have ‘go’ (innard) crab tomorrow. $38 an order. Don’t know how big. They also have Japanese Hard Clam (man gaap)

Huh, don’t think I’ve ever tried those Japanese hard clams before. Are they like the cherry stone clams?

Just curious, do you have to speak in Cantonese when you call in to pre-order? Will English or Mandarin work? TIA

Thanks to @Night07’s tip, I had lunch with my little ones Saturday at lunch. Not a lot of people in our party so we ordered 2 seafood dishes: the mantis shrimps (瀨尿蝦) and the Japanese hard clams (文蛤).

The clams are like littlenecks. They were very sweet, with a bit of sharpness, and delicious. I chose the prep with turnip and broth. The broth was heavy on white pepper and had something very savory in it that I couldn’t figure out. I would have guessed MSG but I wasn’t thirsty afterwards. 2 lb of clams prepped for $23.98. Came in a pot and a sterno stand to heat the pot. I would have loved also if they can steam the clams in some good sake. Maybe someone should ask if one can bring sake for the kitchen.

The mantis shrimps were prepped with salt/ pepper. Well-prepped and cooked just right. 1 lb came with 4 shrimps at $40.

Wonton noodle soup was average. Noodles were al dente. Filling inside wonton was a bit uniform like a fish ball so it was a little odd.

Need to go back and try their other seafood offerings.

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I don’t know if you have to, since I spoke Cantonese to them. I pre-ordered the shrimp but didn’t preorder the clams. I had the option of ordering the ‘innard crab’ but didn’t. I think they have a stash that if you come early enough they won’t run out. Pre-ordering just seems to ‘reserve’ your lot.

I am guessing Mandarin will work just fine in Chinatown. Not sure about English. If you order in person, you can show them my previous post with the Chinese name of the dishes. If ordering by phone, the Cantonese pronunciation for mantis shrimp sounds somewhat close to the English words ‘lie lieu ha’ and ‘man gap’. I am pretty sure they will get the first one, and will likely get confused about the second one (no equivalent pronunciation in English).

Wow, those clams do look pretty good. I honestly can’t quite recall having them, mostly the manilla clams. I’ll give that a shot next time I’m around. Are you trying to recreate those sake clams from Tasting Court, haha. I actually enjoyed Tasting Court’s version very much. But glad to see they still are able to get mantis shrimp (I honestly don’t know where they are, still haven’t seen them around Chinatown’s fish tanks). I checked Tai Yuan last weekend and they stated they haven’t gotten anything recently.

Uhm… I don’t know. My folks ordered in Cantonese and that’s as far as I am aware. As sck said, I think Mandarin should work, English should work as well but might have to sort through the staff.

YES! I am too lazy to scrub clams at home and recreate. Perhaps I should since I still dream about that dish.

I think clams with some form of alcohol generally goes well. Perhaps some better huadiao, or just white wine!

Now I am curious what you think about Tasting Court’s other dishes as well…!

A post was merged into an existing topic: [Hong Kong] Tasting Court 天一閣. Outstanding traditional Cantonese banquet

I called them up today afternoon (Friday) and inquired about their availability of seafood for today and tomorrow. They said they didn’t have anything for today, but asked me to call back tomorrow to see what the boss brings in. So it seems like choices change.

Ah, good to note. I’d be quite curious if they were able to pull mantis shrimp out everytime haha.

Today i called and they have mantis shrimp, ‘innard’ crab, 沙白 (don’t know English name) that should look kinda like these: