Restaurants & Bars

SF: House of Nanking fans, sink your teeth into Fang

rworange | Sep 27, 200909:46 AM     10

Like HON, the portions are large and the prices are low … well, at least for lunch.

Where else could you add chicken or beef to a lunch salad for $1? Outside of happy hour, how many places offer wine for $3.95 a glass or cocktails in the $6-$7 range? And how many have those prices and are half a block from the Moscone Center?

At dinner the prices are a minimum of 2.00 more with some dishes close to double the lunch price. Still … most dishes look like they are meant to be shared by two or more. One might think of it as the Bucca di Bepo of Chinese food.

As to the food … many of the dishes are sweet and oil is generously applied.

While there are no lines outside like HON, every seat at Fang was filled for lunch.

Unlike HON, the décor is nice, the staff is pleasant and there are wine and cocktails. Depending on how one feels about the food, that could be a bonus.

I had
- Complementary soup
- Chinese stuffed clam shell, Fang’s Fish bun, crispy fish filet, cabbage apple sesame slaw
- Baby pea shoot salad, lemon citrus dressing, Napa cabbage, choy gwa
- Detoxifying tea with dried prunes, apples, pears steeped in hot water
- Nam espresso shaker, condensed milk, Vietnamese espresso, Ron Costillo rum, chili dust

The soup was very nice. It seems to be a cup of the country rice chowder that is on the menu for dinner. The light broth had lots of greens, crispy rice, peas and zucchini

The clamshell was a sandwich using steamed buns as the bread. The sweet purple cabbage was tasty and was topped with cooked apple sticks. The fish was fine. It is a messy sandwich to eat. It was tasty enough, but I’ve never been a fan of steamed buns so that along with the clammy feeling of steamed bread just didn’t really work for me.

The plate also had three very nice baby bok choy dressed with chili oil. They were actually the thing I liked the best.

With the soup, veggie and sandwich, it is a filling lunch and a good value served in a pleasant restaurant.

Yelp was all over the wonderfulness of the pea shoot salad … me … not so much. It was a mountain … literally … of chopped pea shoots, the type that is like wheatgrass sprouts. There was a lot of oil in the dressing and I tasted no lemon. There were lots of sticks of cooked sweet potatoes and apples and a few slices of sweet red pepper. I have no clue what choy gwa is.

Seriously, this would have served four people easily. The plate covered 1/4 of the two-top and every inch was covered by a mound of salad. The problem was that a small portion would be fine, but it got extremely monotonous ¼ of the way through it

The huge glass mug of red-tinted tea had little bits of dried fruit and was very pleasant. They offered to add hot water after I finished it.

At $6 I couldn’t complain about the Nam espresso shaker too much. Served in a martini glass with a frothy top, it had a generous shot of rum and a nice background of chili heat. It wasn’t cocktail greatness, but I enjoyed it.

The restaurant is about presentation. Water is served in foot-long glass jars with a whole sprig of mint and slice of lemon.

The wine offered by the glass is Salmon Creek. There were about a dozen wines by the bottle which included Cedar Brook, Rabbit Ridge, Duck Pond, and Silverado

Chinese wines were offered by the bottle and included
- Confucius family, made from wheat and sorghum $21
- Shao Hsing wine made from glutinous rice and millet $25
- Mou Tai made from wheat, sorghum, pea and barley $35

There were four types of sake for $8 - $13 for small bottles. The only beer is Tsingtao

Non alcoholic drinks included that chrysanthemum tea that blooms which impresses yelpers quite a bit. There is goji berry green tea and a few coffee drinks.

The back of the restaurant is the open kitchen which is reminiscent of HON. The cooks, unlike HON, don’t interact with customers by sneering at them.

There is perhaps a 10 seat bar. The décor is quite nice but the tables are way, way too close together. If there is two inches between tables, that would be a generous estimate. Part of the amusement was seeing if people could squeeze into their seats. Surprisingly the restaurant wasn’t noisy when full.

Tables were set with both forks and attractive dark brown chopsticks.

Silver-haired Peter Fang circulated around the tables. Staff either had black Chinese jackets or House of Nanking sweatshirts.

I think it is fitting that the weekly Zagat email was what finally caught my attention about Fang. I was curious about the clam shell sandwiches.

When I tried HON a few decades back after moving to SF, it was the restaurant that caused me to toss that book in the trash. Back then through Zagat I had tried Sears Fine Food, Tommosso’s and North Beach Restaurant … the places where tourists are herded. Enough was enough.

It was bad enough that my meal at HON was mediocre, but the staff was so rude …all this in a cramped, uncomfortable dive. I like dives, but if there is attitude, the food better be pretty terrific … and, IMO, it wasn’t.

It seemed like a good time for an update and compare the sister restaurant.

The food at Fang was ok. The atmosphere nice though a little squeezed in.
While I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there again, if I worked nearby downtown I might stop by for lunch every now and then.

I’m sure anyone who loves HON would really like Fang. There are a few of the dishes from the HON menu though most are different.

The first two replies will have the lunch and dinner menus.

If you are not a fan of HON, I doubt Fang will change the way you feel much.

One must like sweet potatoes, apples, cabbage and oil

660 Howard St (almost across the street from Chevy's)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 777-8568

Mon-Fri 11 am - 10 pm
Sat-Sun noon - 10 pm

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