does anyone have any fairly recent recs for tan tan mian in SF that is not Z&Y or Chongqing Xiao Mian?
I like the soupier version at CQXM, (which is the same as pot and noodle’s, and i take it several other related businesses?) but today i was craving a drier version, like the one at Z&Y. Problem is that years ago Z&Y made theirs vegetarian, omitting the standard highly seasoned ground pork/pickled veggie topping. i asked about this once and they eventually asked the kitchen to make it for me the old, traditional way, with the meat. they’ve done this several times since then until earlier today, when they flatly refused. they admitted that they used to serve it with meat, changed it to the current vegetarian version some years ago. we explained that we have successfully asked for it served traditionally with meat at this very restaurant before. they again refused. our initial server did, then asked a lady by the cashier who also said no, and then finally to someone i took to be management. yes they used to serve it with meat. no they don’t anymore. no they won’t add the meat, even though they have multiple times before.
we opted out of the noodles altogether, although had more than our fair share of ground meat in our mapo tofu.
i don’t feel like this was an unreasonable request. i consider the meat topping to be an indispensable part of tan tan mian. so i wish Z&Y luck, although by the continued crowds, it looks like they’re doing just fine. i will be taking myself elsewhere to get any sichuan food in SF at all. the mapo tofu we had was as good as usual, as was their yu xiang eggplant, or eggplant with garlic sauce, as i think it’s on the menu. we tried their xlb out of curiousity. skins were a little too thick especially with bund shanghai just across the street, but they tasted fine. i just…want the meat on my tan tan mian and i think its weird they won’t do it. i made a french friend understand this a little better later when i made the following very imperfect comparison: what if a french restaurant had a croque monsieur on the menu, but one day you had to barter with the restaurant staff because you wanted a croque madame. and then one day a waiter and another staff member, and then a manager all flatly refused to make you a croque madame, even though there were many egg dishes on the menu? so…bye bye Z&Y.
so back to my original question, where are people enjoying their tan tan mian in san francisco these days?