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General Tso's Chicken and retro American-Chinese food -- Tai Chi [San Francisco]

Gary Soup | May 4, 200312:04 PM

My wife works in elder care at a senior citizen complex, and a delightful octogenarian Caucasian-American lady she's befriended took us to her favorite Chinese Restaurant, Tai Chi at 2031 Polk St. a few weeks ago. We let her choose her favorites, and one of the two dishes we shared for lunch was General Tso's chicken, which was so sweet it could have been served for dessert. My wife was startled by the novelty of it, and actually enjoyed the first few bites, until the cloying aftertaste of all the cornstarch took over. My only previous experience with this dish was in a suburban strip mall in New Jersey about 10 year ago, and I'll have to say the Tai Chi version really out-General-Tsoed the Jersey General Tso's.

My fascination, however, was with the mother-daughter pair (also Caucasian) who came in and sat at the next table. Without even glancing at the menu, they ordered Tomato Beef Chow Mein to share. It was my turn to be startled, because the dish looked and smelled EXACTLY like the Tomato Beef Chow Mein dish I often had at the counter of the old Jackson Cafe, some 40 years ago. Ever since, I've been tempted to sneak back to Tai Chi by myself and order the Tomato Beef Chow Mein for old time's sake (well, and because I LOVED the stuff!)

If you're looking for an American-Chinese food nostalgia fix, or to try what appears to be an over-the-top version of General Tso's Chicken, this might be the place!


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