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BBQ birds in the Sunset, SF

chibi | May 27, 200210:26 PM

While eating a bowl of wonton noodles at New Hai Ky on Irving, I thought I would pick up some BBQ meat to take home for dinner. It struck me that the selection at the BBQ counter was a bit on the thin side - just a few skinny chickens and ducks left. Recalling that there is another branch just a few blocks away, I headed down Irving to check out Lam Hoa Thuan.

There was about 4 or 5 times as much BBQ available here. I was immediately impressed by the row of roasted ducks - evenly deep, rich brown gleaming skin, not deflated-looking, and the heads were not over-roasted into unrecognizable obscurity. I would almost say they looked as though they were smiling coyly. The poached and soysauce chickens were plump and curvaceous, presenting their rounded bottoms to the gentle drip of grease from the ducks hanging above. Hanging above the roasted ducks were chiu chow braised ducks, a lighter shade of brown but much plumper, and with diagonal pattern of criss cross bumps all over the skin (duck cellulite?) I decided to try one, despite my deep personal prejudice that the only chiu chow braised fowl should be a goose. While waiting in line, I had the opportunity to watch the woman in front of me ask for (and receive with good humor) the biggest chicken in the window, the exact duck she wanted, and the precise cut she wanted off of the roast pig. I noticed that they gave her two containers of jup for her duck. As my duck was being cut up, I noticed that it looked meaty and juicy, with not too much fat.

Upon arriving at home, I tasted a chunk of warm duck breast dunked into the provided sweetened garlic vinegar dipping sauce. The meat was rich, soft and tender, but lacking the complex fragrance of good chiu chow marinade. I even licked the skin and was unable to discern anything except the taste of salty duck. It was a really good duck though, just not the real thing. And a lot more usable meat than I usually get with roasted duck. BTW these ducks are listed as "Five Spice Duck" in English, "Chiu Chow Loh Ap" in Cantonese (and something I can't read in Vietnamese). $8.29 each.

I'm not sure why the BBQ selection would be so much better at this branch (I went back to New Hai Ky to confirm that their fowl were indeed skinnier with less uniform color). Maybe they had just sold out of the good stuff. The menu and mural on the wall are identical. I noticed that the boss and several of the elder servers from New Hai Ky now work at Lam Hoa Thuan.

Lam Hoa Thuan
2337 Irving @25th
San Francisco
(415)661-1688/ (415)661-8078
Open daily 9am-9pm

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