Maybe instead of a review of this resto, I should actually start a thread on the different preparations of bitter melon I've enjoyed. Simply put: this location trumps all.
By way of background: A friend and I headed over to Mandalay Burmese but were put off by the huge crowd on this chilly Monday evening. Instead, we lumbered over to Clement St, quickly found a parking spot ( a good omen) and starting walking, checking out the options. Once we spied the crowd inside this low-key establishment, we knew to grab the attention of the guy at the door and let him know we wanted a table. The wait was short and worth it. According to the write up on the window, this is a resto with food from the Taishan coastal region of China.
The draw for every table clearly was the clay pot dishes. We ordered the quail and mushrooms, and enjoyed it immensely. Salt & pepper shrimp were large and plump -- deep fried but not oily -- and sweet tasting. But for me, the bittermelon with seaweed and mushrooms was amazing. I especially appreciated the addition of some tiny dried shrimp.
Not to be missed: the house-made pickled chile condiment was outstanding. The sliced chiles had a kick, but didn't burn the mouth. The pickle brine used a spice I am not familiar with, but really enjoyed. (Melanie, I sense a need for you to go tasting!) After I complimented the owner, he smiled with pride, mentioned it was his own recipe, and sent me home with a huge container of the stuff. What a holiday treat.