Monday, October 14, 2013

Hidden Treasures: Xi'an Gourmet, San Francisco


Hand Pulled Noodles!

There are many things that San Francisco is known for, and I shouldn't need to list most of that mixed bag here. On the downside list, however, are restaurants that folks have to shoehorn their party into or stand in line for, (gag), and that increasingly serve variations on the same food for increasingly extortionate prices. On that same downside list are a multitude of tourist-catering and downright bad Chinese restaurants in a city with a large Chinese American population.

There is good and even great Chinese food in SF. It's just not always easy to find, and the current landlord greed and Social Networking that's overtaking the city may make it ever more difficult to enjoy a Chinese meal for less than the price of a Tesla.

I had found myself hungry while driving through town the other afternoon and had pulled over at a meter to consider my options. My eyes were pulled to some handwritten signs on bright paper in a tiny storefront window. The signs mentioned items from the restaurant's menu. THAT, my brain said, I WANT THAT, NOW.

Xi'an Gourmet isn't fancy. Diner chairs and tables fill a tiny space that I can't recall being decorated at all. The only flare in the place was emitting from a large television mounted to a wall near the back.

That's okay. I wasn't there to chew the scenery.

I was there for the food and saw that they hand pull their noodles and make their own dumplings. Great! The menu only has a few token tourist favorites, and I'd wanted to order everything on it. What I did order were some delicious, fresh noodles in a spicy sauce with bean sprouts and bok choy. The portion was as big as my head. To offset the spicy I'd ordered a sweet red bean cake and had washed it all down with a tall plastic cup of water, though a few beers were available.

I had what I considered a great lunch, and so, apparently, did the table full of elderly Chinese women as well as a pair of young "morning after" Chinese men. Another young Chinese man was explaining to his non-Chinese friend that places like Xi'an Gourmet are difficult to find on "services" like the loathesome Yelp because the Yelpless seldom give Chinese restaurants more than three stars. No surprise there. I hope the Yelpers stay out.

Xi'an Gourmet is a treasure in a city of increasingly glossed-over treasures, and my great lunch only cost me twelve bucks before tax and tip. Try it out before someone drops Manhattan on it.

Xi'an Gourmet (Formerly Shandong House)
3741 Geary at 2nd
Keep it under your hat.