Eleven Chowhounds met at Bow Hon in San Francisco's Chinatown for a lunch featuring some very special dishes and, as always, great Chowtalk. I missed the first 40 minutes or so because of an earlier appointment that took up far more time than expected, but Melanie has very graciously done my job for me and told me what dishes we ordered.
Here's the rundown in Melanie's words:
House soup (complimentary): bok choi and chicken bone “old fire” soup
Raw fish salad (full-size), $38.80
Dry-style beef chow fun
Water spinach (ong choi) with fermented bean curd (fu yee)
Salted fish and sliced pork rice in claypot (for two) and rice crust “water”
Preserved duck and sausage rice in claypot (for two)
Pig feet and ginger in black vinegar claypot
Braised brisket of beef and Chinese turnips claypot (with braised lettuce on the side)
Altogether, it was $10.25 per person with tax and 13 dollars per person with tip. For the incredible bounty of dishes we received, this was a huge value. My experience was very different from the others', so I'm hoping to get an update on the favorites of the night.
Unfortunately, I couldn't talk to the others as much as I liked, but about half of the group was able to take a walk through Chinatown, which was truly wonderful. Here are the places we went and for what, again in Melanie’s words:
Grant Avenue -
Eastern Bakery: almond cookies, lotus and egg yolk moon cake, black bean moon cake, fruit and nut cookie, coconut macaroon, Chinese “tamale” (joong)
Ten Ren: complimentary tasting of oolong and king teas
Ming Kee Game Birds: window-shopping
Yee’s Restaurant: $2.30 tea time specials – fried chicken drumsticks, roast goose, stir-fried veggies
Jackson Street -
Yong Kee: closed on Monday
Delicious Dim Sum: sold out
Stockton Street -
Gourmet Delight: mostly sold out
New Moon: salt and pepper chicken wings, roast pig
Mon Kiang: window-shopping
VIP Bakery: lychee gelato and VIP milk tea gelato ($2.50 per single scoop)
We first went to Eastern Bakery where two pictures of Bill Clinton at the bakery were hung behind the counter. I thought the almond cookies were good, though I prefer a stronger almond taste. We all agreed that the lotus and egg yolk moon cake was great, with the salty egg yolk combining well with the sweet lotus. Really one of the best preparations I’ve ever had it. The black bean cake was also good, if not as layered in flavors the lotus cake. The coconut macaroons were very sweet but also quite addictive. It didn’t have the crunchy texture of toasted coconuts inside and it might very well have been made of a mix, but having a bag of those in my hands meant I was popping bits of macaroons in my mouth often as we took our walk. I didn’t have the fruit and nut cookies, and I had the Chinese “tamale” the next day after boiling it at home. The tamale was a bit underseasoned for me, but it had been sitting out for a while, so that could be the reason.
Ten Ren’s teas were all too strong and too bitter for me. Ming Kee’s Game Birds was just about the most interesting store I have ever been too, and I was absolutely floored looking at cage after cage of birds. Yee’s Restaurant was also a sight to behold, with about four tables filled with plates of food for only $2.30. A crowd of people came to look around and inspect the plates. It looked great, and if I lived anywhere close to San Francisco, I would have bought some. At New Moon, we got to try a roast pig that my mouth is watering for right now. Though a bit dry, it was incredibly meaty with an incredibly crispy skin. Not as heavily seasoned as the chicken wings, which very well might have been my favorite savory item of the day. It was deliciously crispy and strongly spiced, enhancing the natural chicken flavor.
We spent the most time at VIP Bakery, where we tried a variety of Chinese gelatos, deciding on the lychee and VIP milk tea gelato’s. The milk tea tasted just like an ice cream version of Thai iced tea and the lychee had a wonderfully fresh lychee flavor. We all enjoyed how light and milky the gelato was, and it was nice to be able to sit down and talk after all the hustle and bustle. So a very successful, fun, engaging Chowdown all around! I had such a great time, and I thank everyone for coming. I was glad to be able to speak with some of you and to the others, I hope I can share another meal with you as soon as possible.