Regional Chinese roundup 3.0 (SF Bay Area)

An update from the James Beard award -winning team of Hyperbowler and friends -

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Oooh, I’ve been waiting all day to read the updates!

Janelle Bitker lead this year’s efforts, and has reviews from original team members Momo Chang and Carolyn Jung. Chronicle staff Soleil Ho and Janelle also have reviews, a mix of surprises and tips from previous write-ups (I’m fan-boying it this year since I didn’t have time to participate)

For long for pieces, there’s:

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there are 13 new restaurants in the update and I need to dig deeper into the articles to figure out which ones they are. Any noticeable trends?

The new ones are indicated by red stars on a map.

To respect their hard work, which is behind a paywall, I won’t reveal specific places they wrote up-- but I’ve noticed there are at least two new entries in the dumplings (3 non-Cantonese + 1 dim sum), Taiwanese, and Uyghur categories. Their picks are a good representation of openings in the past year or so, and the fact they added 13 places (and suffered a few rejects no doubt), confirms the Chronicle’s commitment to the project and coverage of Chinese cuisine in general.

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What’s Mercury News doing in Berkeley? They can make a bigger effort in covering the food in their backyard.

I think that the Merc shares a lot of the stories with the East Bay Times since they are both part of the Bay Area News Group. The same story on Berkeley’s new Boiler Room Hotpot was in the East Bay Times. My digital subscription to the EB Times just expired and the lowest rate they could quote me for a renewal was $40 per year, which I declined.

You have to dig a lot but sometimes they have decent articles.

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According to ABC records, one of the owners, not the one mentioned in the article, also owns Little Hot Pot on Boscell Rd. in Fremont. In general, I’ve noticed a good chunk of hot pot places are either local or international chains or have investors/owners with other properties, everything from full service regional Chinese to sushi. Tangentially, a recent LA Times article discussed Sichuan hot pot International chains.

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  • New member @mblob reports that Qin-Tang Charm has closed, and that Noodle King (Mountain View) has the same owner. I understand that the better chef at Qin-Tang Charm left months ago, which is why Noodle King seems to have standard Shaanxi fare and the intagrammable desserts, but none of the other specialties.
  • Zhuo Kitchen in the Inner Sunset is reported closed on Yelp. There tend to be false alarms around Lunar New Year, so we’ll see if this is accurate-- I recall this was opened by a former Dragon Beaux chef.

Some businesses with pending liquor licenses:

  • Porridge And Things (Millbrae), which @ekadvany just wrote about. I’m curious about the $1,500 ten-person, 18 course, Teochew feast!
  • Dumpling House (SF Castro)
  • Guilin Rice Noodles House (SF Parkside)
  • Bamboo Steamer (Hayward)
  • Shangri La Organic Kitchen (Tibetan, Marin)
  • Fondue Chinoise (SF North Beach)

That must mean that Mercury News don’t have many resources covering south bay food then. I rarely read their food section since I rarely find anything useful for this area.

Did you ever find out any more about United Dumplings? I can’t find any info online.

Welcome to hungry onion! Always good to see a fellow Bernal Heights resident on here!

I wasn’t able to find anything else of interest. The liquor license is still pending and my scripts did not find other previous businesses by the owners in other ABC records.

Have you been by the location recently? As of around two weeks ago nothing was posted outside and a peek inside the window showed that the front of the house had been gutted.

  • Shanghai No. 1 (Cupertino) replaces Hunan focussed Xiang Xiang Home Kitchen 2. As far as I can tell, this is rebranding-- it’s under the same liquor license as three other businesses that occupied the spot— Xiang Xiang Home Kitchen 2, CBI Boiling Fish, and Kumino China. Does anyone know if chef Haochen Liu is still involved?
  • 3 Kingdoms Hot Pot (Mountain View) takes over the longtime Hangen space
  • Kurume Ramen (Milpitas) is ramen plus jiaozi (frozen bags of 50 too), a few types of bing (big sesame pancake, zhima dabing too), 1 lb. of beef tendon or beef shank, buns, and chive pockets.
  • Becky Duffett at Eater wrote about the Chase Center location of Dumpling Time

Clarissa Wei of Goldthread: Why Is Shanghai Food So Sweet? - Eat China

The food of Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu Province tends to be sweet. Dishes include sweet and sour fish, sweet soup dumplings, and red-braised duck made with rock sugar. How did sugar become such a big part of this region’s food?

Openings

  • Noodles Fresh has had a liquor license application for a while for their Berkeley location, and a yelper reports it open.
  • Dumpling Park (Inner Sunset) opens near 9th and Irving! Hoodline initially reported on it. Anyone know if the owner was connected to Kingdom of Dumpling et al.?
  • A Heart Szechuan Fish specializes in sauerkraut fish, which isn’t very common here. Jim Thurman has an SGV-based article worth reading as background.
  • Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, the international chain, opens up their second, and long-awaited, Bay Area location, this time in Fremont. The first is in Cupertino.

Closed

  • Shanghai Dumpling House (Pleasanton)

A post was split to a new topic: [Millbrae] Porridge and Things

  • Joy Dumpling (Cupertino) Open in the old Shanghai dumpling space.
  • @theluketsai reports that upcoming United dumplings is helmed by none other than Sandy Zheng, the owner of Beijing restaurant. Zheng told me last year that she likes to update Beijing restaurant’s menu with popular items she encounters on her visits to China, and it’s cool to see that United Dumplings will pull from those as well as non-Chinese flavors: “dumpling fillings will run the gamut from Korean barbecue to Indian curry.” Kudos to her inventiveness— it’s rare to see Northern or Shanghainese dumplings here take on fillings that aren’t traditional or currently trending in Asia. I believe that she, or one of the only other owners of Beijing restaurant, got their start at Old Mandarin. Beijing Restaurant had a short-lived sister restaurant in the Sunset, and one of its owners, or someone with the same name, is a current owner of iPOT in the inner Sunset.
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  • Mama Chef (Santa Clara) is now Dumpling Capital and the yelp page says they’ve retained staff
  • Noobowl expands beyond the Sichuan noodle restaurant’s San Jose location to SF Westfield Mall
  • Top Pot is the second hot pot restaurant to recently open in Pacifica. They list biang biang noodles as an option, and similar to iPot in the Inner Sunset, they hang from wooden stands.
  • The Cupertino location of international Taiwanese beef noodle restaurant Chef Hung has closed according to Yelp
  • Family Taste (Fremont) has closed.

To my knowledge, the eight restaurant closures on this list for 2020 have been in the works for a while and are unrelated to the loss of business Chinese restaurants are suffering in the context of COVID-19.

But things are escalating for most restaurants right now, and the outlook for Chinese restaurants is especially bleak given the additional racism/xenophobia they face and additional weeks of reduced foot traffic and business loss they experienced starting last month.

@ekadvany reported on Tuesday that Taste in Palo Alto is on the brink of closure. Yesterday, Janelle Bitker reported that two staples of Oakland Chinatown, Peony and Fortuna, are on hiatus. I hadn’t seen confirmation of this anywhere, but a server at a restaurant in San Jose told me two weeks ago that they’d cut staff, and they knew of other Chinese restaurants that were already cutting days and were planning on hiatuses.

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