Last week we took my dad to Denny's Cafe on Geary near 20th for sil yeh (late night eats). This is a Hong Kong-style coffee shop open till midnight during the week and 3am on Friday and Saturday (guess that would be Saturday and Sunday). We snagged the handicapped parking space around the corner. After 10pm, about three other tables were occupied. When we noticed that two of them had some kind of rice in a whole coconut shell, I had to find out what it was and order it too.
This turned out to be seafood rice baked in coconut from the Dinner Specials menu. For $6.95, it came with a cup of soup, garlic bread, and a drink. It was much better than I'd imagined with tender but not mushy long grain rice infused with the fragrance of the fresh coconut and bits of omelet and green onions. About six good-sized shrimps, a couple sea scallops, and five plump mussels comprised the seafood. None of it was overcooked and they were higher in quality than typically found at this price range. I liked the combination of the soft coconut flesh scraped off the shell with the seafood. While quite mild in flavor, it was a good choice to share with something more robust at the table. That shell can hold a lot and I served up about four rice bowls full and still had some remaining to take home.
William picked a dinner special too, ox tongue with mushrooms choosing spaghetti as his side rather than rice. The serving size was so enormous it overflowed the large dinner plate. Cut in thick, long slabs, the beefy tongue still had a bit of chewiness to some pieces. Al dente strips of sweet red and green peppers contrasted nicely with the long-simmered flavors of the savory brown gravy. A heaping portion of sauteed, fresh button mushrooms and the soft, plain boiled spaghetti sopped up the gravy nicely.
The watery, tomato vegetable soup that accompanied the dinner specials was nothing to write home about. We did like the garlic bread, soft pieces of baguette with plenty of buttery garlic. The fruit drink turned out to be canned fruit cocktail with crushed ice . . . no need to order that again. However, the fresh lemonade was quite nice and not overly sweet, perhaps the most value of the free drinks.
Dad had the oxtail soup noodles, $4.95, one of about five or so different oxtail dishes on the menu, and all of us liked his pick. While fairly fatty, the plain meat pulled off the bone easily and was tender enough for him to chew. Firm, wiry noodles and the sweet and crunchy poached iceberg were perfect in texture. The star anise-accented beef broth was so delicious we asked for the a cup to take the rest of it home with us and not waste a drop.
Baked seafood rice in coconut and ox tongue with mushrooms -
We got load of flavor and value for $24, including tax and tip, for the three of us and enough food for two lunches the next day too. Nothing fancy here, just tasty chow, and I agree with "anna" that the execution is better than D&A Cafe. My sister heard about it from William and went the next night with her husband. They enjoyed the Portuguese seafood (think ala king cream sauce with a touch of curry) and the short ribs (a little tough).
5530 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121