Unable to find parking along our sweet spot on Clement, a couple times we shifted over a block leaving our dining fate to the parking space lottery along Geary. Wed end up eating near wherever we could leave the car. We were one for two on the places we tried out.
Pulling into a slot outside Joes Ice Cream, I tried to convince Mom that the hot dog and a shake combo would be the ideal lunch. But she said it was too cold. We headed across Geary to DRAGON HOUSE instead. The menu is mostly Cantonese standards with an additional page of lunch rice plates and one with Shanghai dishes. We ordered the beef soup noodles and sautéed rice cakes with salted mustard greens, bamboo and fatty pork to share. The soup noodles were topped with tasty strips of stir-fried beef. The fine, wiry egg noodles were very firm in the classic Hong Kong style according to my mother. This could have been a good dish except that the broth tasted canned. The chewy rice cakes had good texture but were just okay because the saltiness of the greens dominated everything. This was Moms first taste of nian gao, and she asked me what she was supposed to like about this dish. Im sorry her introduction wasnt a better example. $12 inclusive for two.
We had better luck when we found a parking space in front of QIGONG, an inexpensive Hakka spot and site of a previous chowdown ([BROKEN LINK REMOVED]). The complimentary house soup was dried mustard greens with chicken feet. Rather light and not that deep, it was warming nevertheless and not boosted with MSG. The two seafood dishes were disappointing, doubly so, since thats the specialty here. The steamed sand dab (actually a plate-size sole) was way past overcooked with hard flesh. The clams with black bean sauce, one of my dads favorite foods, had a muddy and flat-tasting sauce although the clams were good quality. But the reason wed all go back is the braised pork belly with preserved vegetables (kao yuk). Besides being a huge portion (I have half of it leftover in the fridge), the master sauce was rich and deep, just a shade less complex than Ton Kiangs. Texture was spot on with meltingly soft rind and fatty portions and just enough leanish and buttery tender streaky meat to keep my mom happy. $21 inclusive for three eaters. Extra points for wheelchair accessible bathrooms.