Lunch at Hing Lung

by foodhoe on February 20, 2009

674 Broadway(btwn Columbus Ave & Stockton, San Francisco, CA | 415.398.8838 | online menu

This is now our favorite congee in Chinatown and during the first week of the lunar new year celebrations, we came here for lunch almost every day; for the jook, fried bread and fried donuts, as well as to explore their interesting and unusual menu.  We asked co-workers Jay and Kent, who can read the fine print on the menu, to order the good stuff for us.  This was the first dish to arrive on the lazy susan, we wondered what would this dish be?  My first guess was lemon lychees, but it turned out to be spicy Curried Fishballs with Braised Pork Skin (6.95)

The fish balls had a smooth rubbery texture that snapped when you bit into them, kind of like a hot dog and was delicious with the mild curry sauce.  The braised skin was chewy and soft with an interesting gelatinous appeal.

The Hong Kong Style Beef Chow Fun (6.95) was a fragrant mound of  smoky wok charred flavors, big slices of beef, crisp fresh bean sprouts, sliced cabbage and chewy rice noodles.

I loved the Cola Chicken (6.95) which were delicious fried chicken wings served in a delectably sweet and sour and spicy glaze made from coke syrup.

The sauce was infused with hot chili oil and had a sticky syrupy texture that clung to the crisp battered skin, it was addictive and messy in the manner of good saucy wings.

Alexson was excited to see “Fookien” style Fried Rice (8) which is basically fried rice that is served with stir-fried chicken in brown garlic sauce on top – this is seriously filling food.

The most unusual dish, was innocuously called Combination Eggs over Spinach (6.95) on the menu, but is also known as Gold/Silver Spinach gum ngun boh choi in cantonese. It is a combination of preserved eggs that are grey/silver and salted duck eggs that had bright golden yolks.   The duck eggs were intensely salty and had a thick curdlike texture, which was mellowed slightly by the plain steamed spinach.

The Wontons in Soup with barbecued pork was served in a large bowl full of big meaty wontons stuffed with ground pork and bits of shrimp.  The soup was a bit murky but very flavorful, and next time I think I will have to try their wonton noodle soup.

Salt and Pepper Spare Ribs were crisp and garlicky with lots of meat.

We were served a complimentary soup that my co-worker said is made from a flower that grows freely in the city where he grew up, but he didn’t know what it was called in english…  it reminded me a little bit of artichoke and sometimes I thought it was like asparagus.

As I mentioned before, this is a first rate dive with schlubby furniture that is coated with a rich sheen of grease but the food is really the focus here,  not the surroundings.  However, I have something terrible to share with you, I saw something so gross that I stopped eating here for several years…  First though, let me remind you that this is a tightly packed urban area that has been crammed with Chinese restaurants for countless years, and rumour has it that when one restaurant clears out the rodents, they all just pack up and move next door until the coast is clear…  One day a small group of us were enjoying lunch when we watched first in amusement as an orange and white cat jumped up from an underground storage area, then in disbelief as the cat trotted over to a potted plant, where it squatted and pooped to our complete and utter dismay.  I flagged down the waitress, pointing over to the pile.

Needless to say, my relationship with Hing Lung ended for some time… until this year I checked them out on the dept of public health site which awarded them a 70 percent, which in my book is a passing score.  In many ways I think it is a good thing that they keep a cat on the premises and who could blame it for wanting to come out from its underground lair…  So, now that I know that they pass the dph’s standards, I look back at the catbox incident through the fog of time and my tastebuds overrule my previous concerns…

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa February 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Everything looks so good, appetizing and flavorful! a great meal!

Cheers,

Rosa

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grace February 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm

delicious dish after delicious dish after delicious dish. methinks this is a great find. 🙂

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savorydumpling February 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm

The curry fish balls looks good! I miss the jook at Hing Lung! They were so good. The best part was the fresh fried “yao till” (chinese donuts) and the fried “ox tongue” (fried dough).

savorydumplings last blog post..A little bit of my heart… 飲茶

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Single Guy Chef February 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm

LOL, Foodhoe, not the Hing Lung cat story again! 😉 I was thinking, gosh, you sure have been eating a lot of different things at Hing Lung. Looks so interesting. I always just go for the roast duck and won ton noodle soup. Your post reminds me that Hing Lung is more than that.

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rowena February 23, 2009 at 3:33 am

What.a.FEAST! I’ve always had a soft spot for literal dives because in my book if the food is great and the decor is a dump, then sensory perceptors will concentrate more on the food. As long as there are no creepy crawlies on the woodwork then it’s all good.

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foodhoe February 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Rosa, it’s the flavorfulness that keeps me coming back!
grace, yes everything was very delicious
savory dumpling, yeah those fishballs were great and I do love those fried breads…
single guy, yeah I have been needing to unload that story once and for all… It’s hard to go to Hing Lung and not order the congee, but there are lots of delicious dishes to try
Rowena, yes it was a feast. and chinatown has its fair share of dives, but I tend to be more skeptical about the expensive clean places in chinatown!

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Passionate Eater February 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm

That is a pretty offputting story Foodhoe. I remember staying in Taiwan near an incredible smelling hot pot place. Every day, my Mom would ask if we wanted to eat there. Well, one evening, we heard this clicking noise, and we saw the chef in the back breaking soup bones on the sidewalk and throwing them in the pot. We thought, “Maybe he washes the bones before he boils them.” Then, a hour later, after they had closed, we saw several cats laying on the vacant tables inside the restaurant. Your story definitely beats mine (in that the cat took a crap in the restaurant), but felines and restaurants don’t mix in my book.

Passionate Eaters last blog post..Happy Mardi Gras and This Week’s Food Deals

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foodhoe February 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm

PE, I really have mixed feelings about Hing Lung. As the foodhoe, sometimes my tastebuds over-rule common sense and I should include that as a caveat to my site! Anyways, I felt that I needed to include this follow up to my rhapsodic post about their congee which I still crave mind you, even after thinking about the kitty poop incident… I did get creeped out when I looked at the department of public health site when Hing Lung actually got a score of 26, and had their permit suspended back in June, but have come back with a passing score of 70 with very frequent inspections. Your soup bone tale I’m sure is a common tale, but at least you know that the germs will probably get boiled off.

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