Monday, August 26, 2013
I fell in love with many of the foods of Xi'an more than five years ago at David Shih's Xi'an Famous Foods in Flushing, NY's now legendary Golden Mall and have been lamenting the near total absence of this cuisine from San Francisco ever since. I am happy to report that it is now possible to get my Xi'an food "fix" in San Francisco, thanks to Xi'an Gourmet Restaurant at Geary Boulevard and 2nd Avenue.
A couple of weeks ago, San Dong House restaurant, looking for a way to distinguish itself from the growing number of local hand-pulled noodle joints (with and without "Shandong/Sandong" in their names), morphed into Xi'an Gourmet. It was not a gratuitous makeover: the chef at San Dong House was from Xi'an and, it appears, has an assertive grasp of his hometown cuisine, at least judging from to two items I had today.
I consider Xi'an Famous Foods' lamb roujiamo a benchmark, simply because I've eaten so many of them, and Xi'an Gourmet's stacks up well to them. Overall, XG's version was about the same size and as full of meat as XFF's version. XG's lamb seemed slightly less fatty, but at least as aggressively spiced with cumin, jalapenos and chili oil as XFF's. Xi'an Gourmet's buns were a bit denser and more impermeable than Xi'an Famous Foods', which gave them a nice crunchiness but made XG's roujamo messier, as the buns didn't absorb the chile oil and juices as well. XG's lamb roujiamo are also more expensive, at $5.95, though they also serve a pork version for $3.95.
I'll be returning within the week to vet the yang rou pao mo (a hearty lamb soup that uses torn up flatbread instead of noodles) and will have a further report once I've analyzed and cherry-picked the menu.
Xi'an Gourmet, 3741 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave., San Francisco
Friday, August 2, 2013
|Guangzhou King & King (L) becomes iCafe (R)|
Guangzhou King & King was one of the last two places in San Francisco Chinatown offering house-made Chinese sausage for retail sale, so I was somewhat dismayed when it appeared to have morphed into a coffee shop, iCafe, even though it was serving "the best coffee in Chinatown." To tell the truth I'd not often been in the market for lap cheong (Chinese sausage), but it was comforting to walk by and see the strings of various types of Lap Cheong hanging at the back of the store. It would be sad to see it go. Fortunately, it was not so. A Twitter follower who saw the Instagram I posted pointed out that the Chinese sign on iCafe mentioned BBQ, so I decided further research was in order.
Sure enough, I discovered when I returned early enough in the day to tolerate some caffeine, several varieties of house-made lap cheong were on display, laid out horizontally in glass cases behind the counter, which was adorned with pastry cases. It was just a "remodel," said the owner with a grin.
|Lap cheong can be see laid out behind the coiunter|
|A menu that would look at home in Hong Kong|
To complete the transformation of a Chinese charcuterie into a Western cafe a la Hong Kong, where is artwork on the wall for sale by an artist named Nate1, a friend of the owners. Fittingly, the art work even included a bit of lap cheong art.
|Lap cheong art.|
|Butcher, baker and latte maker Nobo of iCafe|
iCafe is at 57 Walter U. Lum Place, jsut off Washington, on the backside of Portsmouth Square