SF Chinatown Lunch ?

It occurred to me this week that my SF office is near chinatown, and I should try a few more places. We tried City View for Dim Sum a few months back, and it was serviceable as a weekday lunch spot ( nice and fresh at least, quick service ).


  1. Plausible to walk in and get a table at 11:45 or 12:45
  2. quick service
  3. price can be moderate high ( even $15 or so for lunch )
  4. does not need to be clean or speak english
  5. tasty, tasty food
  6. southern side of chinatown preferred
    So many spots show up on the map… CH always speaks so snootily about what SF chinatown has become…

In that area, I’ve recently tried:

Onigilly, which makes nori-wrapped japanese rice things. The CH reviews are terrible. I had never had the original in japan, because eating rice triangles from the 7-11 didn’t seem like a great idea if you’re only there for a few days. Still, I thought the meal was good enough, well balance in heft. Taste was fairly good but not brilliant.

Shorty Goldstien’s, and had a rather brilliant pastrami. It was smoky - thus not a real pastrami - but had a lot of taste. It was a few months ago so I don’t remember it very well.

Will try Sam’s soon. The office overlooks sam’s.

Foundation Cafe, for coffee. This is one of the amazingly expensive toast places. I remember thinking “meh” but maybe the coffee was OK. Not in a rush to go back.

Coffee bar, montgomery. Chain. Almost too trendy for me. I remember the espresso being OK though.

Onigiri can be really nice when properly done; we used to enjoy the ones from a Japanese fish market north of Toronto. I’m with you on there’s no way I’m wasting an in-Japan food opportunity on one unless there is no other choice! I look forward to your reports. (Also some day in December, perhaps you’d like company?)

I often go to R&g lounge. They have some lunch specials and are also usually open to off menu requests. Muracci’s occasionally for their karaage curry. Wayfare tavern occasionally. Further south, yank sing, hakkasan, although these tend to add up in cost. Roli roti on Thursdays outside the ferry bldg (go before 11am for shorter lines), Delica inside the ferry building (beef curry, crab cream croquette )

Second vote for R&G. My colleague who was a sales VP in China (and Chinese) claims it is better than 99% of the places in the PRC. Or for Szechuan, Z&Y. Getting in is the issue…

if in a rush, San Francisco Soup Co (on California between Keary and Montgomery). Corn chowder is pretty good, with half sandwich.

I’m going to suggest places that are more ‘Chinatown atmospheric’, i.e. food is not in the same league as R&G, Z&Y, etc. Ambiance is kinda divey (which is why I like). You can get a satisfying, if not great, meal quickly.

New Loey Woey for rice plate- this is the place where you walk downstairs to eat in a basement.

The international food court on Kearny. Gary Soup’s blogpost: http://geezericious.blogspot.com/2012/03/return-of-bush-kearny-international.html

I have not been, but how about Sam Wo’s:

Non-Asian stuff: Cotogna and Bocadillos are nearby, though its probably more than $15 and tables aren’t as easy to come by.

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Muracci’s always has a line - I keep checking. When do you go to get in without hassle?

Wouldn’t both r&g and Z&Y have lines as well? They seem to be on the tourist list. Again, is there a time to go without problem?

I would walk over to Shanghai Bund. Love the appetizer size dongbo pork.

Ferry building’s a bit long to walk. I disliked Wayfare for dinner. I want something faster than Hakkasan.

Sam Wo’s and New Loey Woey can be on the list. Cotogna is an interesting idea.

I have tried the food court, had a decent but not spectacular bowl of noodles. The blog post talks about the fact that they’re closed… any suggestions on which stalls to hit? My coworker would like it.

Chinatown restaurants, even Z&Y, are relatively easy to get a table at around lunch time because they are beyond the FiDi quick lunch orbit and tend to be larger than the lunch-only spots. Also, te tourist season is well past its peak

The block you are talking about, Jackson between Kearny and Grant, is the best in Chinatown for food, IMHO. Great Eastern, Z&Y, Bund Shanghai, Golden Flower, ABC are all good in their own cuisines. Hunan Homes is decent. The locals like Chung King for cheap feasts, but I wouldn’t go there at lunch time.

Hon’s Wun Tun House on Kearny is good for a quick, affordable lunch. Hong Kong style setup, with bowls of noodles and wontons served easily within 5 minutes of ordering. There’s a counter for single diners.

To top your wonton noodles, beef stew/tendon, gnow gyop (lung, tripe, intestine), cha siu, etc… The pig’s feet are good, if you don’t mind gnawing. They have a couple of fun (rice noodle) offers.

Not as good as Mak’s Wonton in HKG, but then, there’s no way to compete with just about any Wonton shop in Hong Kong.

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you’re right, Muracci’s has a line unless you go early (or call in your order, for pickup). I also go early to R&G (you may also be able to snag a seat at the bar if the tables are full). if you can’t get in, you can go across the street to Garden restaurant-- not as good as R&G, but less crowded. Cotogna can be slow at lunchtime.

Thanks, lots of good ideas for next time!

For coffee and a pastry, I really like Coffee Cultures, 228 Bush. Last I checked, they carried Mr. Holmes Bakeshop baked goods, which are fantastic. The pastries at Coffee Bar, even though supplied by Yigit Pura’s place, are not that good.

I may be wrong, but I feel the SF Chinatown isn’t as good as it once was. That being said, there are still a few decent places. I agree with a few other posters.

  1. R&G lounge is a nice place.
  2. For Dim Sum, I think Great Eastern Restaurant is good.
  3. For wonton, I recommend Yin Du, Hon Wu Tun Noodel House and finally ABC Bakery. ABC Bakery offers more than just wonton though.

Ah yes! I tried the espresso there, but don’t honestly remember what I thought of it.

Cotogna had box lunches a few years ago - you can probably call to see if they still have them. They were great - sandwich, side, small dessert.

Chinatown has improved over the years in terms of non-Cantonese choices. Most of the commercial property is in the hands of (Cantonese) Chinese Family Associations, and historically would only rent to people they knew or trusted (i. e., other Cantonese.). In the past you wouldn’t find regional Chinese west of Kearny, but things have loosened up and now you can find the likes of Z&Y, Spicy King, Hunan House (not to be confuse with Hunan Homes), Bund Shanghai, etc. and soon China Live and Mr. Jiu’s. Chinatown’s biggest losses have been in the form of big cart-driven dim sum palaces like Gold Mountain, Meriwa, Hong Kong Tea House and Y. Ben House.

I’d personally choose ABC or Washington Bakery over Yin Du. or Hon’s. They do offer more choices including HK-style pastries (both savory and sweet) and, especially in the case of Washington Bakery, HK-style “izakaya” as it were. (Washington Cafe regrettably no longer offers Peking Duck Pizza., though.)

Maybe that is true. However, the overall quality is lower. It used to have some pretty good restaurants. Now, it has just some average quality of everything. Hunan House replaced King Tin, correct? I consider that a step down in quality. I regard King Tin very good at what it does. I would say it is one of the best in its “Cantonese small dishes, noodle, fun, rice…etc”… Hunan House is not one of the best in Hunan cuisine.

Opps. Minor mistake. I meant to recommend Washington Bakery (not ABC). Yu and Hon are just for wonton mostly. Washington Bakery actually offers pretty good wonton as well (in my opinion) many other items.

Washington Bakery looks like my kind of place. Reading the Yelp reviews is interesting.

Yeah. It is a pretty neat place. I like it. You can see (part of) the kitchen in the dining area. I actually think that is nice.

Waitress have been polite. Overall, I just like it. :smiley:

Your tastes seem pretty focused on Cantonese. Where is the diminution in quality? King Tin had good Cantonese charcuterie, but Yee’s on Grant is its equal. For the old-style Cantonese you crave, there is still Capitol Restaurant, Chef Hung’s, Sam Wo 2.0… Do you know a better place for Hunan food, now that Henry’s has become somewhat formulaic?

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
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