Between 4th. and 5th. avenues on Clement st., Lee Hou is serving the best Chinese food I've enjoyed recently, and it's comfortable and very inexpensive.
They serve a la carte dim sum all day and the har gow have the largest, sweetest shrimp, and most perfect soft thick dough - $1.90/4. The maitre d' looks mean but is really very nice. Large and in charge, he sports black tie.
They have daily lunch specials that are all $1.99. The "supreme" broth which appears in some of the soups is much better than any broth I've had in a Chinese restaurant since South China, on 18th. st., closed a couple of years ago. A satisfying bowl of this broth with lots of big succulent pork and shrimp dumplings, with little bits of black mushroom and scallion is $4.00.
Porridge with beef is $2.75.
Claypots: Black mushroom and chicken rice $4.25.
Spare ribs, Chinese bacon. All the claypots are $4 - 5, except for quail, squab and frog which are higher.
Rice plates are $3.50 - $5.50.
Including rock cod, sturgeon, roasted duck, shrimp and many more, most with veg. from eggplant to black mushrooms. Many with tender greens.
A wide selection of interesting sounding drinks: Thai iced tea, lots of tapioca choices, freshly squeezed OJ $2. Hot drinks are intriguing - Ovaltine, wild snow jelly, honey with lemon, fresh soy bean drink, Hong Kong style tea. All about $2.
Lotsa noodle choices. Organ meats galore.
Fried fresh oysters - $7.50.
They offer fresh crab and lobster - I don't know the specific dishes - because, and this is the main problem at Lee Hou, much of the sinage is in Chinese. All I can tell you is a "large size" crab special, details available if you read Chinese, is $8. Lobster, according to a sign with about a hundred Chinese characters - in English translated to only "lobster: $13". I saw a man eating a big pile of red lobster chunks out of the shells. he said it was with ginger and onions - he looked very happy. Maybe I could get a job there (will work for food - crab and lobster) writing out English signs for them.
There are 4 (!) different menus scattered throughout the restaurant, not to mention the whole megilla plastered all over the walls and windows in incomprehensible (to me) Chinese.
1) pink plastic menu - porridge, drinks, rice plates, claypots, noodle soups and noodle dishes.
2) Very small daily specials menu
3) largest menu is yellow paper - on the counter near the bar. But just because this has the largest number of items on it, don't think it is comprehensive. There are many dishes on the above 2 menus that don't appear on this one. What is weird is that you will never even see this menu unless you happen to decide to pick up what is ostensibly a take-out menu. Which it is, but it also features a lot of dishes that don't appear elsewhere, and as I said, it also lacks many dishes which appear on the other menus.
4) dim sum menu.
I love this place! It is my new favorite Chinese restaurant. And I'm about to take the plunge into unimagined realms of untranslated crab and lobster.
Now, if they would just get all the food onto ONE English menu - that would be heaven, or the closest you're going to come to heaven on Clement street.