Clement Street has been my chow backyard in recent weeks. Thought I should start churning out the posts before the slew of meals here fade from memory.
Whenever we pass by D&A Cafe, my mother can't help but pause a moment to marvel at the cheap prices posted on the menus and specials. Some things are discounted by time of day or in combo meals. So, when she asked me to cut down on our food spending and rotate in some "ging jai" (cheap) eats, I let her finally satisfy her curiousity here.
Our first visit, we just missed the 3-6pm specials. I think this made her a bit grumpy and after studying two different menus plus all the poster on the wall, Mom ended up ordering a plate of dry-fried beef chow fun, $5.50. It was a huge portion with a decent amount of tenderized beef, pretty good wok char, but way too much undercooked bean sprouts.
I picked from the Hong Kong coffee shop part of the menu, choosing the set dinner that includes soup, spaghetti or rice, entree, and a drink for $6.50. The vegetable beef soup tasted like watered down Campbell's with big chunks of carrots --- pushed that aside. Shown below is what was called baby beef ribs with black pepper with the spaghetti option. I was surprised at the mound of cross-cut beef short ribs in this order. The beef itself was pretty tasty once I scraped off the non-descript, slightly sweet brown gravy. It had decent grilled flavor and an unnatural reddish sodium glow. Starchy and flavorless corn and mushy spaghetti with carrot-dominated sauce filled out the rest of the plate. I did like my drink though, salty yellow plum soda, and would order it again.
I let myself be talked into going here again to get take-out. From 10am to around 1pm, a few rice plate specials are offered for $3.80 including a beverage. We tried the Hainan chicken plate and it was pretty good and certainly a deal at that price. You get a mound of yellowish chicken rice (with the distinct taste and color of Knorr), a mix of white and dark meat representing about a quarter of a bird, ginger scallion oil, roasted peanuts, and delicious sweet pickled daikon and cucumbers. The chicken was a standard issue bird, but it was perfectly cooked, pink at the bone and just the right amount of salting. I paid an upcharge for a fresh watermelon juice with boba, it was fine.
My mother had also ordered gai lan with oyster sauce. It doesn't have a price on the menu and she was shocked to pay $6 for this. The gai lan was poorly trimmed and the bottom inch or two of the stalks were too tough to eat. Also, we had to cook it longer in the microwave to soften it enough to bite into.
If I go back, it will be just for the drinks. This is a sister to the D&A Cafe in Oakland Chinatown.