ChowFun called me from his cell phone last week, headed for Long Island, a Chinese restaurant that recently opened on Church Street across from the "Sister Act" church. He'd read in the Noe Valley Voice that the owners were Chinese by way of Long Island, NY and hoped they'd make shrimp with lobster sauce the way we both remember it.
I'd been to Long Island once already, as a diversion from the mediocre Chinese-American food in the neighborhood. I'd dropped Alice's in favor of Jasmine Tea House (bland fresh food at both, friendly service), but Jasmine seems to have been going downhill lately so I was in need of another cheap spot, authenticity be damned.
Anyway, my one lunch special at Long Island was serviceable--a stir fry of vegetables with shrimp and chicken. It was cheap, with rice plates from $3.99 including soup. And service was friendly. The paint job is a big improvment from the Chile Pepper that I managed never to patronize despite living in Noe Valley for years.
ChowFun and I settled in, excited at the thought of fried chow mein noodles and duck sauce (or Saucy Susan, a staple in my mother's repertoire). We devoured all of the noodles and ordered the required shrimp with lobster sauce, an orange beef, and a veggie delight, only the last of them off the regular menu.
The shrimp was a big disappointment. Bland eggy sauce, frozen peas, canned water chestnuts. ChowFun remembers this dish with bits of pork. I just remember it being more flavorful. Huge portion.
The deep fried orange beef was more successful, served with a side of perfectly steamed broccoli. Crunchy, sweet, tender. The veggie delight was basically a side of sauteed broccoli--nothing substantive. And the fortune cookies were individually bagged and imported from NY (to San Francisco! home of the fortune cookie!).
Friendly owners, but stick to the lunch specials and the orange beef. Maybe it's time to go back to Alice's.
On the way back, we stopped in at Lehr's German Specialties, a place I must have walked by 100 times since I've lived in the neighborhood but never gone in. Since Speckmanns closed, Lehr's now offers many additional shelves of culinary delights in addition to the biersteins and German bath salts.
The refrigerators contain 20 kinds of sausages, quark, double-smoked bacon, and head cheese. The shelves are filled with Hero jams (ChowFun recommends the black cherry, I like the currant), Dusseldorf mustard, brown bread, and lots of European candies and cookies. I got some marked down Christmas gingerbread cookies.
Just for research, I paid a visit to Jasmine Tea House for lunch and ordered the shrimp with lobster sauce lunch special. The shrimp were fresh, but the sauce shouldn't have been served. Big thumbs down. Is it my imagination or has the food gotten worse lately? They used to make a great roast duck and quite palatable Mongolian beef.
Long Island is on Church between 29th and Valley
Lehr's German Specialties 1581 Church Street (415) 282-6803
Jasmine Tea House is on Mission just north of 29th Street