1801 Alemany Blvd. (at the corner of Ocean Avenue), SF, CA | 415.333.8182 | website | open daily 11 am – 9 pm
To get to Beijing restaurant, you will need to travel out to the far reaches of the Excelsior district of San Francisco. It’s out in a southerly portion of the city, towards the center on an east-west axis with a slight easterly bent… A group of us gathered to celebrate Kathy’s birthday at this newish restaurant which also has a parking lot next door, a very nice touch for those of us driving because the parking competition is pretty fierce in the area.
The dining room is fairly small and filled up quickly with families and lucky locals who know about this obscure homey eatery. The walls are chockablock with photos (quite a few of basketball star Yao Ming, the tallest player in the NBA and one of China’s most famous athletes, who apparently visits the restaurant when he is in town) and there are festive strings of red lanterns hanging overhead. We relied upon Kathy’s hubby Frank who can read/write Mandarin to order for us, and we began with a plate of Pan-fried Dumplings ($4.95) which were plump with beautifully blistered bottoms.
Beijing vegetable pie ($7.25), which resembles an upside down pizza but is actually a light flaky pastry filled with a chive and egg mixture. I love the light crunchy texture and the lovely fragrance imbued by the chives.
There were quite a few unusual dishes that we sampled, like the Five Colors Vegetables with Beijing Style Clear Noodles ($12.95). This dish is famous because of the house-made hand cut noodles mixed with julienned cucumber, thin slices of red and green peppers, cilantro, and strips of scrambled egg. It arrived with everything arranged in separate piles on a platter, a brown sauce was poured on top and the whole thing was tossed table side.
The noodles are bouncy and reminded me of jiggly udon, the combination of ingredients tasted very fresh and flavorful.
I loved the Cumin Lamb ($9.95) succulent slices of tender lamb that were generously mixed with cumin and dried chilies, tossed with chunks of lightly cooked bell peppers and onion. We also had a plate of Cumin Beef for those who had a preference.
House Special Hot Chicken Wings ($8.95), which were lightly battered and fried and tossed with aromatic slices of onion, green onion, and dried red chili peppers and toasted sesame seeds.
I sat next to and enjoyed (ie, singlehandedly devoured) this plate of Salt and Pepper Pork ($8.95), which were delectably crisp lightly battered and fried pieces of marinated pork.
Hot Braised Beef Tendon ($9.95), is served piled within a ring of crisp baby bok choy. The beef is infused with fragrant flavor and had a beautiful soft texture.
The Beijing Noodles with Special Sauce ($7.95) were toothsome and al dente. A lovely tangle of the chewy noodles with cucumber and bean sprouts and a dark and mysterious spicy sauce. Very nice combination of flavor. The texture of the noodles with the crisp fresh vegetables mixed with the spicy sauce was addictive and wonderful.
Later on we shared the Beijing beef pancake ($7.95) which had a delicately crisped exterior and was filled with layers of the flaky green onion pancake and a flavorful beef filling.
Stirred Flour Ball with Shrimp ($8.25), the flour balls were really small cubes of dough, cooked to a very nice al dente texture like little dumplings, with a squishy texture similar to mochi. They were stir-fried with plump pieces of shrimp, zucchini and peas and carrots and was a very comforting dish, like something my grandma would have served.
Hot and Sour Nappa Cabbage ($7.50) as a simple dish that tasted refreshing against some of the spicier flavors of the meal.
In this close up picture, you can see that the black dots are actually the eyes of tiny dried shrimp.
This showed up later in the meal, I think it was Lemon Chicken ($7.95), served over a layer of steamed broccoli.
We shared a plate of Fried Sweet Cake Beijing Style($6.95) for dessert. I’ve never had fried mochi, which is what these reminded me of. They were filled with a sweet red bean paste and liberally dosed with sprinkles of white sugar.
I sat across from Isaac who liked the steamed rice the best. It was a delicious and interesting departure from typical Chinese food. I read Foodnut‘s review after my visit and now really want to return to try the fried potato tower and the hot pots which are just the thing with the chill Autumnal weather.