Restaurants & Bars

Dinner at Zone 88 - Portola, SF - Report

Dave MP | Apr 14, 200712:14 AM     4

A friend is visiting from out of town and "desperately needed" (his words) Chinese food, and I remembered reading about Zone 88 earlier this week. 5 of us checked it out tonight....this place is great! I can't believe I didn't know about it before, especially since by car (with no traffic) it's about 4 minutes from my house! Who knew! I definitely need to check out everything on that part of San Bruno Av.

We shared 6 items:

Szechuan cold tofu was nice, we all enjoyed this. Cold, seasoned tofu over cucumbers and daikon, topped with a oil/chili sauce that wasn't really very spicy. Serving was pretty generous, and very nice presentation. In fact, I was impressed by the food presentation in general, both on our table and on neighboring tables. I am attaching some pictures which may or may not do it justice.

Kung pao chicken was good; contained green peppers and fresh bamboo shoots. I liked this more than I usually like kung pao chicken.

Bok choi was excellent and very garlicky.

Pork spare ribs in pumpkin looked beautiful, but it was not a favorite at the table. I ate the biggest portion of this. I thought the flavors were very subtle and some pieces of pork were slightly on the rare side. However, I liked the broth and the bits of pumpkin I was able to scrape out. The spare ribs were fine too, but I didn't think it was too special.

Eggplant w/ garlic was also excellent....competes with the eggplant at Lotus Garden. Lots of garlic, possibly some basil too, but I might be making that up.

Before we went to the restaurant, I looked at an old menu online and saw 'chicken with taro.' When we got to the restaurant, I carefully looked through all the menus (there were 2, plus the takeout menu) and only saw the rice plate, not a la carte. Still, we asked for this a la carte and that was fine. The chicken was on the bone and in small pieces, but it was good. The serving of taro was very generous. Sauce was very different than what I expected, but good...contained lots of chili, anise seeds *and* star anise, cloves, and probably some cumin.

Service was friendly, though a lot of the waitstaff had limited English skills. All of us (including the waitstaff) were entertained by the basketball on the TVs, which soon changed to Chinese Soap Operas. There is currently a sign on the door that explains a special that is going on now...we couldn't read the Chinese. But when we got the bill, they had taken 15% off everything. So the total bill before tip was 46 dollars for 5 people! An amazing value!

There are dozens of items on the menu that I'd like to try....I'll definitely be back!

Thanks Gary and others for the recommendation,

Dave MP

Zone 88 is at 2428 San Bruno Ave
San Francisco, CA 94101

Coming from downtown on 101 (by car), take the Silver Av exit and it's right there!
Coming by bus, take the 9.

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