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Passing through Hayward yesterday and in search of potstickers for May's dish of the month, I stopped at Incleine Chinese Cafe for an early dinner.
It seemed like a good candidate for a lighter, Chinese-American style. Before ordering I asked if they were housemade or bought frozen. The server was taken aback at my question, but blurted out, "frozen". Oh well.
The photos on the window showed a bowl of tong yuen, a homestyle dish that doesn't show up at restaurants often, and it's not listed on the menu here. So I had to try it.
I was rather flabbergasted at how packed this relatively small bowl of soup could be. So many of the quail egg size chewy rice dumplings, plus Napa cabbage that added a nice sweetness to the stock base, carrot, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, scallions, cilantro, and some inedibly tough slices of pork. The chicken-y soup was nearly greaseless and light. While pleasant enough, a more concentrated stock would have revved up the blank slate of the mochi balls. Still, it was a kick to revisit this comfort food again for $7.95.
The other interesting dish on the menu is Fishcake Patties, $8.25. Four big pan-fried disks were, unfortunately, swabbed with some generic sweet brown sauce. I would have preferred them unadorned, as shown by the flip side photo. The fish cakes were a bit too, well, fishy. What was really good though was the side of garlic green beans on the plate. Snappy, yet tender, with just the right wisp of garlic scent and perfect salting.
Not a destination, but the food was good and interesting enough that I do not regret stopping here. I was the only customer at 6pm though a slew of to-go orders went out on delivery.
Incleine Chinese Cafe
24036 Hesperian Blvd
Hayward, CA 94545