Hrmmmm… I’ll take a stab at this since this is probably one of my favorite dishes to eat though I can’t quite say what place is the best (often times I found preparation for it to be slightly inconsistent). Also for the restaurants listed after my rambling, I’m probably just tossing in all the cha chang tang establishments that I tend to go eat at around the bay area and beyond. Feel free to add more.
Since I’m a little bored lets take a look at the overall idea of the dish before we get to any particular places. As mentioned by @sck, the dish’s historical origins seems to be from the fusion of western and Chinese culinary cuisine in Hong Kong. From my perspective, the baked pork chop over rice is typically a dish where a golden-brown layer of cheese is on top of a tomato based sauce over the pork chop(s) with egg fried rice on the bottom. The main components of the dish also tends to be cooked separately before being placed into the oven to be baked. Typically, baked dishes takes a little longer time compared to your other rice plates (approximately 20-30 minutes).
The three main benchmarks for the dish I’d say is the pork chop, the sauce, and the rice.
Pork chop criteria: Thickness, juiciness, bone/no bone, method of cooking, and quantity of chops.
Thickness: Somewhat difficult to measure accurately (without a ruler) but an easy eye test. There’s just seems to be less satisfaction with a thin pork chop.
Juiciness: Can be dependent on the thickness of the pork chop (depending on cooking method), but controlling the water content of the cooked pork is crucial to avoid dry, chewy pork.
Bone: Why is this important? There tends to be additional gristle and fat that can be gnawed (some people may like that) with the connective tissue to the bone and the meat. But more importantly, the bone has a temperature modulating effect that can go either way for juiciness:
- The meat next to the bone is cooked to well-done, resulting in the rest of the pork chop to be way overcooked.
- The meat near the bone is more tender and juicy as the rest of the pork chop is cooked.
Method: Was the pork chop pan fried? Prebaked? made into cutlet? breaded? The method of cooking the pork chop can affect the texture. Is the pork chop cut into pieces after cooking but prior to baking? Additional moisture can be lost that way.
Quantity: Quantity is a quality on its own, and well… value can be a consideration.
Fried Rice criteria: Probably the least important of the baked pork chop dish since the fried rice can be substituted with spaghetti for instance but still worth considering.
- Ingredients with rice: Does it even have eggs in the fried rice? Though more so with the sauce, does it have other items in it like carrots or peas?
- Texture: Is the rice properly fried? No large clumps of rice?
- Temperature: Is the rice actually cooked and then baked (usually colder/luke warm if they don’t bake it long enough)?
I’m sure there are more criterias and better items to nitpick on, so feel free to add to it. I’m just rambling at this point.
Anywho, onto the restaurants that I can somewhat recently remember:
In the sunset district of San Francisco itself, I’m somewhat partial to Cafe Bakery & Restaurant in the sunset. Their portions are huge and they come with soup and dessert but it is cash only. I find the sauce on the sweeter end but it is tomato based.
Tak Kee Lee (also in the Sunset) does a good job on their sauce I think for the baked pork chops, just a little on the thinner side. I think they do one of the best lemon teas in the area though.
I went during the soft opening of Venus Cafe in the Richmond district and found their pork chop rice to be pretty good though they have plenty of different combos. I also tried their black pepper sauce baked pork chops recently and thought the sauce had a good peppery bite to it.
In Chinatown, I prefer VIP Cafe though the sauce they use is a little less tomato-like and more of a blend of that and… I’m thinking onions and carrots… as its a slightly more orange hue. The old owner of VIP Cafe currently runs Cafe Orchid in Milbrae.
In regards to Milbrae:
I like Cafe Orchid’s baked pork chop over rice. As I mentioned on the little blurb about VIP Cafe, they use a little more orangey-tomato sauce and I frankly like it quite a bit. They actually have a mid-afternoon special where they have a mini-baked pork chop rice where its slightly lower cost but there’s only one pork chop.
as @yeshbro mentioned, there is Shooting Star Cafe and I do find the sauce a little on the sweeter side. I find that they do a good job on the majority of the HK style dishes and its probably one of the safest places to be around midnight in Oakland’s Chinatown (a bunch of cops tend to eat there around that time… probably because its the only place open at that hour!).
At El Cerrito, I remember the rather large portions at HK Home Kitchen (what use to be Mac’s Wok in Richmond). They offer both the red and white sauce.
Somewhat further in Sacramento (its… what, 90 minutes away from SF without traffic…), I tried Blue Moon Cafe’s baked pork chop over rice. I rather liked their sauce, but the pork chop itself is cut in slices. They have some random bell peppers and onion slices as well.
In any case, I really can’t recall having a really bad baked pork chop over rice in a long time. Most are pretty satisfactory, I think personal preference of the sauce is a large factor. For instance, I recall the baked pork chop at Our Heart Cafe years ago and they had a red wine tomato sauce that I rather liked, but dad didn’t quite care for it. I rather like VIP/Cafe Orchid’s baked pork chop over rice but it might also be because I grew up eating it… ha.
Anywho, happy new year and hopefully we have others chiming in. I’m always game to explore more baked pork chop places.