Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)

Since the 1960s, the Bay Area’s repertoire of Chinese dishes has continued to expand beyond its Cantonese roots. Just in the past few years, multiple restaurants specializing in underrepresented foods from Xinjiang and Shaanxi have opened, and dishes from Guangxi, Wuhan, and Jiangxi have become available. You could eat at Bay Area Chinese restaurants every night for a month, devoting each meal to a different region of China, ethnic group, or international community, and never repeat a restaurant or style.

To help make sense of the diversity of Chinese cuisine available in the Bay Area, this project aims to document restaurants that specialize in a regional, or ethnic-based, Chinese sub-cuisine, or at least have uncommon regional dishes. The list is a superficial treatment, but it will point you to over 400 restaurants whose specialties fall outside the general Cantonese or Chinese American umbrellas.

Regions of course don’t live in a vacuum, and a chef’s pedigree (or menu) says nothing of their skills at making regional dishes. Treat these categories as rough guidance, and be warned the list includes outstanding restaurants and real stinkers. For a more in-depth discussion of a restaurant or regional cuisine, and to help separate restaurant specialities from fool’s gold, check out linked discussions on Hungry Onion or start a new discussion to get the ball rolling. I’ve also included links to Chowhound discussions and journalist reviews, and each restaurant is linked to Yelp for address and location info. For a curated analogue of the guide, consider the San Francisco Chronicle’s James Beard Award winning Many Chinas, Many Tables project, which used this list to identify candidate restaurants, and which contains short descriptions and dish recommendations for dozens of restaurants.

For additional background on cuisines/dishes, I recommend looking through Carolyn Phillips’ website and book on regional Chinese cuisine, All Under Heaven. Her Vice article is an excellent primer. Also check out Clarissa Wei’s regional Chinese guide to LA and Jim Thurman’s Essential Guide to Regional Chinese Food in LA .

Some Cantonese sub-categories are included, but let’s focus on Cantonese (i.e., Guangdong) and Hong Kong in other posts since they form the foundation of the Bay Area’s Chinese cuisine, and have lots of specialty shops worthy of their own discussions (e.g., dim sum, desserts, meats, etc.). Here’s a quick primer to get you started down that route: San Francisco Bay Area Cantonese Primer

Please add new discoveries and let us know if anything has been mis-characterized, especially if a place’s menu doesn’t reflect the purported region. This initial post is a wiki, so I can update it with your tips to keep things current.

Closures are recorded in the graveyard of 247 regional Chinese restaurants and the 2014 Version 2.0 of this list is on Chowhound. See also Olivia Wu’s SF Gate article to see what the scene was like in 2002.


Northwest 西北

See also Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Daguid’s book, Beyond the Great Wall

Shaanxi 陕西 / Xi’an 西安 (most have wide hand-ripped noodles and liang pi. See also the hand-pulled noodle primer)

Gansu 甘肅 / 甘肃 and capital Lanzhou 蘭州 / 兰州

See also the hand-pulled noodle primer for five restaurants listing Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles and about ten other places with hand-pulled noodles (Lamian 拉麵 aka Shou lamian 手拉麵)

  • Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles (Milpitas) HO owner worked in Lanzhou. Regular, thick, wide, & extra-wide hand-pulled noodles
  • Shinry Lamian (Fremont) Jonathan Kauffman; renamed from Xin Yuan House, owner from Lanzhou, six thicknesses/shapes of hand-pulled wheat noodles and also buckwheat noodles
  • Skyview Noodle Tea (Pittsburg) HO Chef Jing is from Gansu, and menu items are similar to Shaanxi restaurants. Currently, knife-shaved noodles rather than wide hand-pulled.

Ningxia

  • Northwest China Cuisine (Fremont) An untranslated menu item 回味宁夏一品锅 (roughly, Hui taste Ningxia variety pot”), explicitly refers to the Hui people, a Muslim Chinese group who make up more than 1/3 of Níngxia’s population. Hand-pulled noodles.

Uighur ئۇيغۇر تائاملىرى 维吾尔族 / Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 新疆维吾尔自治区

Wide ripped or biangbiang noodles, but not a Shaanxi or Uyghur focussed menu

Some Xinjiang dishes available at:

Lagman

  • See the hand-pulled noodle primer for places with Lagman aka Legman aka Xinjiang ban mian 拌面 aka Latiaozi 拉条子 aka Shou lamian 手拉麵.

Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区


Shanxi 山西

See the thread devoted to knife-shaved and scissor-cut noodles

  • MK Noodle (Dublin) only Shanxi dishes are fried pork (过油肉) and a similar (housemate, machine-cut) noodle dish with vinegar
  • M.Y. China (SF Union Square) knife-shaved, scissor-cut, and other Shanxi noodles CH HO
  • Xiang Xiang (Sunnyvale), has knife shaved noodles and round buckwheat noodles
  • The Three Sheep (Newark) chef from Xinzhou. Small menu. “Lamb meat & Chinese yam soup” is a Shanxi dish. Other Northern dishes and snacks (including Lamb shaomai)

Northeast / Dongbei / 东北 / 東北

Full menu restaurants

Shao Kao (skewer) restaurants featuring Shenyang items


Shandong 山东 / 山東

Shandong owner and/or food, with no direct nod to Korea. Most Shandong dishes are noodle, bun, or dumpling related.

Shandong &/or Chinese Korean

Shandong dishes with Hangul on the menu. All have black zha jiang mian

Korean restaurants with Chinese Korean dishes


Northern 北方

Geographical usage here, but note that the terms “Mandarin Chinese” and “Northern Chinese” are sometimes used as all-inclusive terms to describe that which is not Cantonese or Cantonese-American.

Beijing 北京

Tan Family Cuisine / Tanjia Cai 譚家菜
See China Daily (article).

  • Beijing Chef (Pleasanton) Peking duck too
  • Royal Feast (Millbrae) Award winning Chef Liu was the executive chef at Beijing Grand Hotel, and Melanie Wong found him here after savoring his food at China Village and in Fresno. See CH thread and Chowdown report.

Islamic Chinese 清真 / Hui 回族
A 2004 SF Gate article discusses some of the below restaurants.

Tianjin 天津

Inner Mongolia 内蒙古

Hand-pulled noodles, non-specific region

  • Bing’s Dumpling (Fremont) HO hand-pulled noodles and Xiao long bao, owner from Shandong, frozen dumplings too.
  • Din Ding Dumpling House (Fremont, Union City) HO hand-pulled noodles and Xiao long bao, some Shaanxi dishes. Sells frozen dumplings too at Fremont location.
  • Mom Dumplings (Milpitas) Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles. Sells frozen dumplings too.
  • Yummy Szechuan (Millbrae) HO; CH, CH Chef Hu Wen Jun trained at Shijiazhuang Culinary Academy in Hebei. Also has hand-pulled noodles.

Other Northern and Jiaozi /dumplings or bing (might actually be Shandong or Dongbei or even Shanghai)

Jianbing, but not a Beijing generalist

See also goldthread2

Other Northern, descendant/affiliated with Hebei born restauranteur, Qinghe Li (h/t @souperman). Many also sell frozen dumplings, including takeout only Yummy Dumpling.


Shanghai 上海 / Jiangsu 江蘇 / Huaiyang 淮揚菜 / Zhejiang 浙江 / Jiangnan 江南

See Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Land of Fish and Rice, xiao long bao discussion, and sheng jian bao discussion.

Mix of Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang

Wuxi 無錫 and Suzhou 苏州

Yangzhou 扬州

  • Gangnam House (Milpitas) Menu lists Yangzhou-style dishes in English as “Gangnam style”. By name, most, if not all of these dishes are available elsewhere, but noted because it has an owner from Yangzhou according to Yelpers and more info is desired.

Jiangxi 江西


Wuhan 武汉 / Hubei 湖北


Guangxi / Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 广西壮族自治区

Guilin 桂林
Classic Guilin Rice Noodles are part of an international chain according to Luke Tsai

Luizhou 柳州


Hunan 湖南

See also Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.

General Hunan

Hunan noodle

Hunan dry pot


Sichuan 四川 and Chongqing 重慶

Sichuan dishes are popular on non-Cantonese menus, but these restaurants are more focussed. Many of these have dry pot options too. See also Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty and the Hungry Onion Sichuan/Chongqing noodles thread. There are a few local chains in the mix, as well as a contingent of East Bay chefs who once worked at China Village.

Sichuan

Chongqing & Sichuan
These restaurants promote that their owners or chefs are trained in Chongqing, or refer to a large number of dishes as being Chongqing or 山城 (“mountain city”) style.

麻辣一品 Owned by Chef Yiwen “Truman” Du and Jenny Wu

Independent Chongqing restaurants

Sichuan dry pot 干锅
Dry pot is available as a part of many Sichuan, Hunan, and other restaurant menus. These restaurants appear to specialize in dry pot.

Chongqing hot pot

Sichuan hot pot


Guizhou 贵州省


Yunnan 雲南 / 云南

See also Georgia Freedman’s Cooking South of the Clouds: Recipes and Stories from China’s Yunnan Province

The following have no indicators of a Yunnan kitchen (I think they’re all Cantonese/Hong Kong), but I’ll list because they serve a few dishes containing Mixian noodles:


Teochew 潮洲 / Chiuchow / Chaozhou / Teo Chow / Chinjiew

See also The Cleaver Quarterly’s article on Teoswa cuisine, Diana Zheng’s Jia! The Food of Swatow and the Teochew Diaspora, and the Netflix documentary Flavorful Origins.

Teochew etc. / Vietnamese / Trieu Chau
My understanding is that these reflect the cuisine of Teochew speaking people who immigrated to the US from Southeast Asia.


Hakka 客家

See also Linda Lau Anusasananan’s the Hakka Cookbook.


Taiwanese 臺灣 / 台灣

See also bubble tea, shaved ice, Taiwanese fried chicken and various Taiwanese bakeries and desserts. See also Steven Crook & Katy Hui-wen Hung’s A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai and prolific podcaster Cathy Erway’s Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island

Taiwanese bento/steam plate, not tea-focussed

Taiwanese "military dependent’s village cuisine"
See description of this cuisine on Chowhound

Taiwanese Hotpot


Cantonese 粵 / Guangdong 廣東 / 广东 subsets and offshoots

See KK’s Regional Cantonese primer. Some scattered Shunde and Zhongshan Cantonese dishes in Millbrae at Gourmet Village, the Kitchen, and Champagne restaurant (San Mateo).

See also dim sum, Cantonese seafood, Chinese bakeries, Chinese BBQ or roast meats, wo choy, clay pot, banquet, congee / jook / porridge, Taishan / Toishan, Cha Chaan Teng, HK Cantonese, Hong Kong cafe, Hong Kong western cuisine, and restaurants Yum’s Bistro and Cooking Papa.

Macanese 澳門 / 澳门

  • T 28 (SF Parkside)

Shenzhen 深圳市 or Hong Kong style chicken pot

Shunde 順德


Other

See also hot pot, dry pot, and Chinese hybrid cuisines such as Peranakan / Nonya (Singapore / Malaysian Chinese), and of course Chinese American, American Chinese, the elusive “NY Cantonese”, Kosher Chinese, Chinese fusion.

Chinese Vegetarian (notables)

Chinese Vegetarian

Indian / Desi Chinese

Chifa / Peruvian Chinese

Japanese Chinese

  • Yu Raku (San Mateo) currently is the only member of this sub-category. See Luke Tsai’s article and an older CH thread for why.

Shao Kao 烧烤 / Chinese Skewers 串
See Chowhound and SF Chronicle coverage. Many of these have Dongbei side dishes and soups.

Malatang

Hot pot (unknown or non-specific region)
Please open a new thread if you have info on these places!

To be categorized later
Please open a new thread if you have info on these places!

  • Hunan Chef (Pleasanton) Mostly Chinese American, but scattered other stuff like Chinese breakfast on weekends (fan tuan, soy milk), northern noodles from Qi Shan to Chao Ma Mian, big sesame pancakes, fish gluten
  • MOMO Noodle , a food truck, mentions “family recipes” for what they refer to as “bàn miàn”. Anyone have insights into their brief menu? I thought “bàn miàn” was the same as “lo mein” (the Cantonese dredged egg noodles, not the Northeast Chinese American derivative), but the dishes, have more of a Sichuanish persuasion, perhaps the owner’s contemporary spin.
  • Noobowl in Westfield Oakridge (San Jose) and maybe already in SF Westfield, food court Sichuan labeled dishes finally hit the mall. I’m guessing the biang biang noodles aren’t true to their name. Any info?
  • Spicy Heaven (San Mateo) Shanghai, knife shaved noodles, Sichuan, and northern Chinese
  • Taste (Palo Alto) HO Sichuan and various northern specialties. Chef used to work at Chili House in SF.

International chains
In 2013, @chandavkl asked why there weren’t more Chinese restaurant chains. By 2016, he commented on the influx, and in 2018, several have opened, which matches a broader trend of chain Asian restaurants opening in the SFBA. Here’s a running list. I’m generally leaving out pastry/dessert and tea shops, as they’re too numerous to keep track of.

US Chains (from outside the SFBA, not including cafes/tea)

US Chains (started, and expanded from, Bay Area)

Local “Chains” (three or more restaurants with same owners) yet to expand outside SFBA

Odds and ends

Category description in progress— contains Celebrity chef, contemporary Chinese-American, and renowned Chinese chefs.

  • China Live (SF Chinatown)
  • Din Tai Fung (San Jose) HO Taiwanese chain
  • Dumpling Time (SF SoMa) venture by Kash Feng, Shaanxi born owner of Michelin starred Omakase.
  • Eight Tables (SF Chinatown) Si Fang Cai or ‘Private Chateau Cuisine’ tasting menu upstairs of George Chen’s China Live.
  • Mister Jiu’s (SF Chinatown) Brandon Jew’s one Michelin star California take on Cantonese
  • M.Y. China (SF Union Square) Martin Yan’s venture with the owners of Koi Palace. CH HO
  • Royal Feast (Millbrae) Chef Liu was the executive chef at Beijing Grand Hotel, and Melanie Wong found him here after savoring his food at China Village and in Fresno. See CH thread and Chowdown report
12 Likes
  • The 248 replies from April 2016 to December 19, 2017 are archived here
  • The 207 replies from Dec. 17, 2017 to Dec. 7 2018 are archived here.
  • The 170 replies from Dec. 18, 2018 to Nov. 12, 2019 are archived here

Openings, with an international chain theme.

  • Shancheng Lameizi Hot Pot (Milpitas) international Chongqing hot pot chain
  • YH-Beijing (SF Lower Haight) in the former Chinese American Wonderland space. Yelpers say it’s a collaboration of Wonderland owner,
    who is still there. Beijing dim sum (is this sourced from Dim Sum USA or made by a former Chili House Chef?), a variety of XLB, and Beijing roast duck “coming soon”
  • Eden Silk Road international chain has opened a more casual style Oakland location (previously reported by @zippo1)
  • Guilin Rice Noodles [edit: not affiliated with chain elsewhere in SFBA]

Closed:

  • Alley House (Shanghainese, Inner Richmond) has been replaced with Wei Guo Kitchen. No word yet on when they open or format.
  • England Rose Garden (Taiwanese) at 640 Barber Ln Milpitas
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Openings:

  • Grand Hotpot (Pacifica) is owned by long-time restauranteur Louis Kuang who we’ve previously discussed as owning Cantonese and Sichuan restaurants and owns Grand Hot Pot Lounge in Inner Richmond among other places.
  • In the former Eden Silk Road space, Chef Sha (San Mateo) has hot pot, shaokao (skewers), and 江湖菜 (“river-and-lake cooking”) which refers to a genre of Chongqing cuisine .. Fuchsia Dunlop’s “Food of Sichuan” says it is the “kind of rough, generous, spicy food enjoyed by laborers eating by the riverside” and “you can tell you’re in a jianghu Chongqing restaurant when you have to pluck small morsels of chicken or eel from a colossal pile of chilies and you’re surrounded by noisy, laughing, red-faced people.” A few localrestaurants use this term, e,g., Chef Zhao in San Mateo’s “Boiled fish fillet with flaming chili (river and lakes boiled fish) 江湖水煮魚“.

Anyway, the liquor license indicates Chef Sha refers to Huiru Sha. I found someone by that name. in public records for Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot in San Jose and there’s overlap in the menu too. Incidentally, the Little Sheep Hot Pot next door is temporarily closed. Chef Sha menus (excluding hotpot) below:

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  • Bao Chinese Eats (Willow Glen, San Jose) has closed
  • Preeti Mistry plans to open Juhu Chinese Menu with Desi-Chinese / Indo-Chinese foods
  • Dumpling Time Express (SF SoMa) Dumpling Time sister restaurant Restaurant also has Shaanxi boiled dumplings. A venture by Kash Feng, Shaanxi born owner of Michelin starred Omakase
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Openings:

  • Heypot (San Jose) Taiwanese hot pot
  • Wei Guo House (Inner Richmond) is one of those rare occasions nowadays when a Cantonese restaurant replaces a Shanghainese! (looks good, but not in the scope of this list)
  • Pan Kee Food (Foster City) replaces Dim Sum USA, and appears to sell frozen/takeout dumplings, buns, etc. like its predecessor

Just now noticing:

  • China Garden Restaurant (Brentwood) has been open for years, and I’m only now noticing the menu is near identical in content and layout as that of Maple Restaurant (Outer Mission, SF), the latter of which Melanie Wong reported in 2015 has a chef from Tianjin who specializes in Sichuan cuisine.
  • Red Dragon (Concord) has a Sichuan menu of some sort
1 Like

I already see “Kung Fu Noodle” listed under Chiu Chow. Pretty astute observation as it hasn’t been “kung fu noodle” for quite some time now and is in reality, a reincarnation of Golden Island, a chiu chow restaurant that used to be in the plaza but closed a while ago.

So, it serves goose slices, chiu chow style appetizers, the chilled crab, oyster pie and other dishes that are tricky to find elsewhere.

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  • A yelper reports that Spicy Queen in Inner Richmond is closed. It has several Chongqing style sister restaurants in NE SF as well as San Mateo and in the east bay owned by Chef Yiwen “Truman” Du and Jenny Wu* . Their ABC license is active until the end of the year

Combing through ABC archives, here are some ownership factoids I wasn’t previously aware of (assuming same names are same people):

  • An owner of Desi-Chinese Red Hot Chilli Pepper in San Carlos is an owner of Cal-Indian August 1 Five (SF)
  • Dongbei Yang Dumpling (Fremont) has the same owner as Chef’s Yang BBQ (Cupertino), which serves skewers
  • Customize Malatang is owned by the owner of Tianjin/Sichuan specialist Golden Garlic
  • SF’s Beijing Restaurant and iPot have owners with the same name (same person?)
  • Boiling Pot (Fremont) shares an owner with the Mumu Hot Pot mini-chain
  • Beijing Restaurant (Santa Clara) shares an owner with Paik’s Noodles
  • Two owners of Shang Cafe (San Jose) used to own Shao Mountain, and one of them also operates Hunan Impression

more from Clarissa at Goldthread on Regional Chinese food -

from youtube:

Sichuan is known for its love of spice. It’s the birthplace of mala hot pot, mapo tofu, and dandan noodles—all made with copious amounts of chili and peppercorn. How did this region come to fall in love with spicy food, and what are the core ingredients?

This is the fifth episode of our 13-part series on Chinese food called Eat China. In the next episode, we’ll go on a food tour of Chongqing and hit up three Sichuan restaurants you have to try.

1 Like

Closures

  • The Mountain View location of Chef Zhao Bistro has closed. The San Mateo location still remains.

Openings

  • Bamboo Steamer (Hayward) a former Dublin Koi Palace chef started this restaurant according to the server. Spacious, mixture of contemporary bao and dumplings, noodles & rice, XLB, sheng Jian bao.

  • 110 Shabu Shabu (Dublin) Hot pot (unknown or non-specific region)

  • Suzhe Eatery (Palo Alto) Shanghainese, in the old Su Hong space, opened by former Su Hong staff according to Elena Kadvany.

  • Shangri La Organic Kitchen (San Rafael) Tibetan thukpa and momos

  • Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Fremont) Indian / Desi Chinese

Upcoming:

  • An owner of Noodles Fresh has a pending liquor license for Noodles Fresh at 2430 SHATTUCK AVE , BERKELEY, CA, 94704
  • An owner of Cantonese seafood and dim sum Fusion Delight has a pending liquor license for Kai Xin Dian 2460 BANCROFT WAY , BERKELEY, CA, 94704
  • An owner of Beijing Duck House has a pending liquor license for Zest Food at 10881 S BLANEY AVE , CUPERTINO, CA, 95014.
  • An owner of Milpitas’s Jiuding Flavor (or someone with the same name) has a pending liquor license for Dumpling Home at 298 GOUGH ST , SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94102

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