Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)

chinese
jiangnan
shanghainese
sichuanese

#1

Since the 1960s, the Bay Area’s repertoire of Chinese dishes has continued to expand beyond its Cantonese roots. Just in the past three 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 350 restaurants whose specialities 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 more 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.).

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.

Version 2.0 of this list is on Chowhound.


Shaanxi 陕西

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

Shaanxi wide ripped, biangbiang noodles, a few Shaanxi items but not a Shaanxi-focussed menu


Shanxi 山西

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


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)


Northwest 西北 / Uighur 维吾尔族 / Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 新疆维吾尔自治区

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

Uyghur ‎ئۇيغۇر تائاملىرى restaurants

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.

Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles

  • See the hand-pulled noodle primer for places with Lamian 拉麵 aka Shou lamian 手拉麵 aka chen mian 抻面 aka Hand-pulled noodles.

Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区


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


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).

  • 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.

Islamic Chinese 清真 / Hui 回族

Tianjin 天津

Inner Mongolia 内蒙古

Hand-pulled noodles, non-specific region

  • Bing’s Dumpling (Fremont) hand-pulled noodles and Xiao long bao, owner from Shandong HO
  • Din Ding Dumpling House (Fremont) HO hand-pulled noodles and Xiao long bao, some Shaanxi dishes
  • Mingle’s Mango (San Jose) hand-pulled noodles. Also has eight varieties of Xiao long bao (including Godiva chocolate & hazelnut, and, to my knowledge unique to them in the Bay Area, lamb); a few starters, hand-pulled noodles appear to be the wide variety. Noodle soups include a vegan tomato and egg (Shaanxi inspired?) and Sichuan/Chongqing types. Chinese name is 北斗心軒 and the owner is a big Dragonball fan.
  • Mom Dumplings (Milpitas) Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles
  • Yi Yuan (Millbrae) / 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)

Other Northern, descendant/affiliated with restauranteur, Qinghe Li (h/t @souperman). See also 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

Nanjing 南京

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.

Anhui 安徽

  • Skyview Noodle Tea (Pittsburg) HO has 安徽牛肉板面 Anhui Beef Plate Noodles. According to Melanie Wong’s CH post, the dish is popular across China. They have owners from Shandong and a chef from Dongbei, and also have hand-pulled and knife-shaved noodles.

Jiangxi 江西


Wuhan 武汉 / Hubei 湖北


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


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.

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


Yunnan 雲南 / 云南

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.

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 the Hakka Cookbook.


Taiwanese 臺灣 / 台灣

See also bubble tea, shaved ice, Taiwanese fried chicken and various Taiwanese bakeries and desserts.

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, Zhong Shan Restaurant (SF Parkside), 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

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!

  • Fiery Shanghai (Pleasanton)
  • Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant (Newark)
  • 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
  • Spicy Heaven (San Mateo) Shanghai, knife shaved noodles, Sichuan, and northern Chinese
  • Taste (Palo Alto) Sichuan and Beijing specialties.

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)

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.
  • Jai Yun (SF Chinatown) Nanjing chef Nei Chia Ji offers a multi-course, reservation only meal, vegetarian upon request. CH; Lucky Peach
  • 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.

'Taiwanese night market' in Sunnyvale CA/ SF Bay Area
Jonathan Kauffman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about us and our thread today!
Sichuan noodles at sixty-one SFBA Sichuan restaurants
What does SGV have that SFBA does not?
Drafts disappearing
[SFBA] Silicon Valley, Hayward to Milpitas news and notes
Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
Chihuo -- excellent SFBA food coverage
[SFBA] Playing around with a Bay Area Indian cuisine mapping/ classification idea
Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
Embedding google docs
#60

The 248 replies from April 2016 to December 19, 2017 are archived here.


(Gary Soup) #61

Dragon Beaux is another Koi Palace venture

Let me suggest “Expense Account Chinese” or “Hella haute” as a category name.


#62

Great work! Thanks.


#63

I still remember when I first arrived in the Bay Area years ago, when I worked in the financial district in SF. A coworker told me that Yank Sing was a favorite of an Italian boss. And he’d order all the expensive stuff when lunching with my coworker and the bill would came to $90 a person. That was astounding to me at the time who considered paying $30 for a meal to be extravagant, and $5 pork chop rice plates were the norm.

A different boss took me and our group to Yank Sing. We were a bit more restrained and it still came to $50 a head. I don’t think I’ve hit the $50pp dim sum threshold since then in the Bay Area.

Of course, I haven’t visited Hakkasan or Crystal Jade.


#64

Yank Sing has this, um, policy that when you’re seated, someone comes over with a glazed Chilean sea bass “special”. They don’t tell you that it costs $35 (ISTR).

Once we were finishing up a security audit at a colocation site up the street. We were going to celebrate with dim sum at Yank Sing. The auditor (from a business partner) tagged along, and promptly ordered two of the sea bass dishes, as well as several other expensive ones. Our company paid the bill, around $250 for four of us. We thought it odd that the auditor let us treat him. When we asked his boss about it, she said, “Oh, he always does that.”


#65

I haven’t seen full menus of these yet. If their menus reflect the early word on Yelp and elsewhere, I’ll integrate them into their respective categories above.

Also:


(Gary Soup) #66

Why Hunan? Chang’an is the ancient name for Xi’an, and the Yelp reviewer mentioned that the best dish to order was biang biang noodles with cumin lamb, so 2+2=??


Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
#67

Ha, I got distracted while posting. Thanks for the correction.

Hunan got into the mix because of a report on Chowhound that Hunan Home in Chinatown has new owners. ABC records confirm. It’s owned by Louis Kuang, who owns (primarily Sichuan) Grand Hot Pot Lounge and Hunan House in Chinatown. Current Yelp menu pics from the business owner in Nov. 2017 show Hunan Home as having the same menu from before, Hunan smoked pork and mostly Chinese American dishes.


(Gary Soup) #68

That would be the former Hunan Home’s (sic) It had good food but you had to cherry-pick the menu.

If Kuang makes it a real Hunan joint, that will be one spicy block, with it joining 3 Sichuan restaurants on Jackson St. and Chong Qing Xiao Mian around the corner.

Smoky Man’s menu is here. It’s pretty eclectic:


#69

I reclassified Yiping under Chongqing based on the current menu and owner’s origins.

Also, anyone know what the deal is with Apple Green Bistro in Cupertino village? They started as a sushi/Dongbei/Sichuan place and now are mainly Sichuan, and I recently received a private message that their cooking is excellent. Some notable dishes that weren’t part of the Bay Area repertoire until recently:

Streetside langya potatoes 街邊瑯琊土豆
Sliced Beef Golden Soup 金湯肥牛
Lamb On Toothpick 牙籤羊

I can find no record of an association with Z&Y/Chili House, but their web page has the same style and even some verbatim sections about Z&Y owner “Chef Han’s recommendations”.


(Gary Soup) #70

Thanks for a Herculean effort (or should I say Sisyphean effort, the way restaurants keep opening and closing and changing menus).

A couple of notes:

I believe the dumplings from Happy Dumplings are Tianjin dumplings, not Shandong dumplings.

The last time I was there, Gourmet Noodle House had spliced a Wuhan menu
onto its Shanghai menu.

Are the “round noodles” at Xiang Xiang buckwheat or naked oat noodles? I’ve been looking for the totally tubular noodles, maybe you mean something else.


#71

Thanks again for your feedback and careful eye. I’m grateful for your and everyone’s continued feedback and tips— aside from the openings/closings I have scripted, the substance of this project is grounded in the community knowledge of Chowhound and Hungry Onion, and thrives on their continued participation to grow.

What’s a signature of Tianjin style dumplings, and is it just the dumplings that are Tianjin style, or is it the pan fried bao as well? I put Happy Dumplings as Shandong because they have described their Shui Jian bao as Shandong style pan-fried bao.

I’ve not eaten the buckwheat noodles at Xiang Xiang, but descriptions are that they are round in the sense that spaghetti is round (presumably via extruding). I’ll clarify above— I recently enjoyed the oat noodles, the ones presented like a honeycomb, at China Poblano In Vegas and hope we get something similar here soon! (In the meantime, I’ve been tossing chili oil in my steel cut oats :slight_smile:

It’s funny that Gourmet Noodle House, with their new Wuhan specialties is just a few doors down from General Tso’s, which is more Wuhan focused. I’ve seen Wuhan duck all over the place, at Sichuan and other places in the South Bay, so I’d like to keep the Wuhan/Hubei section restricted to places with a broader range of Wuhan/Hubei items. Edit: oh, they have “Wuhan Sesame Noodles (presumably regan mian)” according to your post— lemme find out their current menu and reconsider.


(Gary Soup) #72

I believe James’ wife and extended family are from Tianjin, and I’ve always associated the pouch-shaped uumplings (as opposed to crescent-shaped) with Tianjin.


Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
#73

Kudos to @DrJimbob for launching a Regional Chinese project for the Boston Area! Based on a some useful tips from him, I tweaked the format of the Google map in the original post.

I might as well take this opportunity to discuss highlights and disappointments from 2017. I’ll open up a discussion about dish-related trends at a later time.

Closures
As eloquently reported by @sck, Wenzhou Noodles didn’t survive the year and will be missed. As for other 2017 closings, two of the four Guilin/Guangxi restaurants closed.

Openings
Of about sixty openings that made it onto the list, twenty-three were from the stretch encompassing San Leandro/Newark/Fremont/Union City/Milpitas. To my knowledge, all are independently owned. In contrast, only six mom and pops opened in San Francisco.

Some notable openings in 2017 (in alphabetical order):

  • Cloudland Rice Noodles opened and is, to my knowledge, the only Yunnan-focussed restaurant with dishes beyond just mixian noodles.
  • Dumpling Time (SF SoMa) venture by Kash Feng, Shaanxi born owner of Michelin starred Omakase opened. They have varieties of XLB previously available only on the peninsula.
  • Eight Tables and China Live
  • I-Shanghai Delight (Fremont) opened in 2017, and already has a sister restaurant in, of all places, Old Sacramento.
  • Among plenty of places with hand-pulled noodles, Lanzhou Hand-Pulled Noodles (Milpitas) is the first Lanzhou-style specialist with an owner trained there.
  • Northwest Noodle House (West San Jose) finally brought Shaanxi food to the western part of the South Bay.
  • The talents and prestige of Chef Zhongyi Liu had long been recognized by Chowhounds, notably Melanie Wong, and his 2017 opening of Royal Feast, which serves both Sichuan and Tan Family Cuisine, received recognition as a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 3 stars by Michael Bauer.
  • Sama Uyghur (Fremont) is the Bay Area’s first independently owned brick and mortar Uyghur restaurant

Michelin comments

Of eleven Michelin recognized Chinese restaurants (1 star for Mister Jiu’s, 10 bib gourmands), six are non-Cantonese. Me thinks the inspector prefers spicy, or thinks our other offerings are not up to snuff.

  • China Village, Royal Feast, Sichuan Home, and Z & Y are Sichuan
  • Wonderful is Hunan
  • Great China is awesome all around, but is special in their Shandong/Korean Chinese offerings

#74

Me thinks if @night07 keeps writing about Cantonese restaurants, then the Michelin inspectors will visit more of those places and give some of them Bibs and stars!

But I also think that many Cantonese restaurants simply can’t be bib restaurants. Cantonese meals are social occasions involving at the very least, a family, and at the most, multiple families. The good stuff-the soup, the seafood, etc. are large in size and meant to be shared. Michelin inspectors, showing up maybe in pairs, wouldn’t know what to do with the ordering and can barely get anything to eat. Someone like Brandon Jew gives them a manageable menu and smaller dishes that fits into the French mold, then they know what to do.


#75

Indeed! We need to organize some group meals to follow up (or join) @Night07 ‘s recommendations.

I hear you about the conflict between Michelin Star criteria and Cantonese dining. My point was geared toward the Bib Gourmand category being split between spicy and Cantonese. Four of their selections are pan-regional (MY China) or dim-sum/Cantonese (Yank Sing, HKL 2, Lai Hong). Of the six-remaining, only Great China isn’t Sichuan/Hunan. Their guide https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Restaurants/Restaurants-San_Francisco-_-California-United_States?sort=price also mentions Koi Palace, Yummy Szechuan, and DTF (San Jose search).


Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)- April 2016 - December 2017 archive
#76

Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, the Chinese chain, is soft opening in Cupertino.


#77

That got me thinking about possible bib gourmand places. What about those three trifecta of carb goodness restaurants? Congee, fried rice, and noodles? I’m thinking cooking papa in foster city could fit the bill (don’t they have a michellin mention? I recall seeing a poster there). I’m not sure the HK style cafes will ever make a Michellin mention in SF guide’s though I do honestly miss Our Court Cafe (it may have been a bit msg-filled but I loved their macaroni and ham in soup and their baked rice dishes.


(Gary Soup) #78

With @sck, I think Chinese food in general (not just Cantonese) is at a disadvantage in the Michelin sweeps because it is best experienced family style, which conflicts with Michelin’s individual diner approach.

I also believe Michelin reviewers favor Thai because they can use a fork without embarrassing themselves.