• Fun in Flavors: The Pleasure of Eating Chinese Food in San Francisco

    Han Lijun

    Looking for the best Chinese food in San Francisco can be an exhausting experience, what with the huge number of choices available. Moreover, the various regional cuisines of China won’t limit you to one or two dishes alone. For example, NDTV recently had an article about Chinese food and it highlighted several of these cuisine types. One of those described was the spicy Szechuan, which is described in glowing terms:

    The combination of everything hot and spicy stands out for Sichuan cuisine. Here, food is mind-numbingly fiery and frequent use of chillis and Sichuan peppers shines through in every dish. Those from the Sichuanese province cure their own meats, make their own pickles and cook in large pots with a lot of fragrant stock.

    Szechuan is just one of the six prominent regional cuisines, the others being Cantonese, Hunan, Hakka, Mandarin, and Zhejiang. Oftentimes, leading restaurants like Chili House SF that specializes on Chinese food in San Francisco serve dishes from most, if not all, of these popular cuisines. Here are four dishes that you should try to get a taste of:

    First, gong bao or kung pao chicken is an excellent example of Szechuan style cooking. Consisting of diced chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and peppers, this particular Szechuan dish has several variations. The original version uses the especially potent Szechuan peppercorns that made the dish a fiery pleasure on the tongue. For those who aren’t inclined toward spicy foods, milder versions can be cooked up.

    Second, Peking duck is quite a popular duck dish worldwide. Roasted duck is easy to understand, but Peking duck takes a bit more preparation than just sticking a duck on a stick and cooking it over an open fire. For one, the duck is hung and left to stand for 24 hours after it has been glazed with a layer of sweet syrup. Afterwards, the duck is roasted in a closed oven until it has a shiny brown color. The thin skin and the tender meat are a tasty treat and make for a fine meal.

    Third, chow mein is a noodle dish that everyone, most likely, already knows about. Stir-fried noodles mixed with a variety of vegetables and meat, this tasty noodle dish is filling and easy to prepare. Depending on where it is served, you can have a choice of crispy or soft noodles.

    Finally, sweet and sour pork is a favorite among people trying out Chinese cuisine for the first time or are still getting used to its flavors. Made with deep-fried pork slices covered in the traditional sweet and sour sauce, it has a tangy taste that excites the tongue and leaves one wanting more.

    (Source: 10 Best Chinese Chicken Recipes , NDTV, September 30, 2014)

  • Chinese Restaurants in San Francisco: How to Handle the Spicy Heat

    Han Lijun

    If there’s one thing you can expect from Chinese food—specifically Szechuan dishes—in San Francisco, they’re most likely going to be spicy—and restaurants like Chili House SF pride themselves in preparing and serving hot meals fresh off the wok and into your plate. So if you want to challenge your friends to a day eating nothing but spicy yet tasty food, look no further than popular Chinese restaurants in San Francisco . If you want to ensure a win by boosting your spicy food tolerance, here are some tricks you can try:

    Go Rough

    Bring along some rough food like crackers, or better yet, order steamed rice and munch on them as you savor the overwhelming spiciness of your chosen dish. Rough foods tend to distract your tongue’s taste receptors from focusing on the spicy flavor by giving them another texture to worry about, and if you eat starchy food, it might even absorb some of the capsaicin—the active component of chili peppers.

    Swish, Don’t Drink

    If you need to have a glass of water with you, make sure it’s lukewarm, so you could keep it in your mouth for longer without hurting your teeth. This is because you should swish the water around your mouth and tongue and spit it out instead of taking gulps and swallowing. This way, you are rinsing off the spicy capsaicin and getting it out of your mouth.

    Start Small

    Serious Eats contributor Andrea Lynn advises that you should start small, whether it’s by taking in little amounts of food at a time, or by digging in on the less spicy food first, then build up to the hotter ones:

    When your taste buds get accustomed to these small measures of spice, bring it up a notch. Try adding seeded, chopped chiles to your meals. Start with milder ones like poblanos and cubanelles before moving onto jalapenos and serranos. A friend of mine who worked up his spicy tolerance advised this: “It needs to be somewhat gradual, but don’t be afraid to go a little too spicy sometimes. You don’t have to douse every meal with hot sauce, but if you want to stretch your tolerance, then you need to have an occasional meal that leaves you with a burning mouth. It’s like exercising a muscle—no pain, no gain.”

    If you’re looking for excellent San Francisco Chinese restaurants to hold your spicy challenge in, pick ones that have a variety of spicy dishes to choose from. Don’t get too caught up, though—remember that your body can only tolerate so much spicy food before you get too much stimulant. Also, try not to be overly competitive that you forget to enjoy.

    (Source: 6 Ways to Build Your Spicy Food Tolerance , Serious Eats)

  • Tasty Treat: Excellent Chinese Food Catering Brings Dim Sum to Parties

    Han Lijun

    It would be difficult to find the best dim sum in San Francisco considering the many established Chinese restaurants like Chili House SF competing for the honor. The bite-sized cuisine has come a long way from its origins, which J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s article for Serious Eats describes:

    The original dim sum houses originated in Canton, and were a lot like diners: small, roadside establishments that served tea along with a bit of sustenance for weary travelers or rural workers. Just like Spanish tapas, which were originally simple accompaniments to glasses of sherry, these simple Cantonese tea snacks eventually became the main focus of the meal, though tea is, of course, still served. These days, in many parts of Southern mainland China, and in Hong Kong in particular, it’s become a weekly ritual family meal, generally taken on weekend mornings.

    Dim sum’s popularity is worldwide in scope and different types of establishments, from hole-in-the-wall diners to the fanciest restaurants, offer it. Which is why there’s no simpler way to ensure your party is a hit than to offer dim sum treats as part of the menu. A popular Chinese food catering service would be able to offer the tastiest dim sum choices, some of which you can read about below.

    First, there are the tasty dumplings. Wrapped in a thin rice flour skin, dumplings come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Usually steamed or fried, the main difference between dumplings are actually their filling. Typically consisting of pork or shrimp mixed with various vegetables like green onions, carrots, and mushrooms, the filling’s taste can range from spicy to sweet. No matter the flavor, however, they are a delight to the palate.

    Second, fluffy buns are also a popular and filling part of the dim sum experience. Filled with a variety of fillings ranging from savory pork to sweet bean pastes, these buns are either steamed or deep-fried. As you bite into one, the texture of the wheat or rice bun gradually gives way to a satisfying burst of flavors.

    Finally, you can finish off a dim sum meal with complementary desserts. There’s mango pudding, a blend of mangoes, milk, and sugar that is served chilled, or you can try the well-liked fried sesame balls, which are balls of glutinous rice covered in sesame seeds with a sweet bean core.

    (Source: The Serious Eats Guide to Dim Sum , Serious Eats, April 19, 2011)

  • Eats from Your San Francisco Chinese Restaurant: Time to Try the Tofu

    Han Lijun

    Chinese food might be a favorite among Americans, especially people in the City by the Bay, but if there’s one thing about the cuisine that many raise their eyebrows to, it has to be tofu. Nevertheless, any reputable Chinese restaurant in San Francisco still includes a host of tofu dishes in their menu. If you know and understand the wide array of benefits that tofu can offer you, you just might realize why it’s a staple for most Chinese dishes, and why it’s always worth a try.

    Tofu fights cancer.

    Studies suggest that eating tofu could decrease your risk of getting cancer, as the peptides in soybean were found to slow the growth of colon cancer cells by as much as 73% and liver cancer by 70%. These same peptides may also help to block a few of the pathways of cancerous cells in the body.

    Tofu is protein.

    Whatever your stand on the vegetarian lifestyle may be, there’s one truth that you couldn’t refute: if they eat tofu, they get just as much protein as anyone eating meat. A mere half cup of tofu contains about 10 grams of protein. Aside from this, tofu also has a significant amount of calcium and iron.

    Tofu promotes weight loss.

    As SF Gate writer Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D. states in article, eating tofu can also help a lot if you’re looking to lose weight without having to consume less protein. This is because of its low calorie content:

    Your overall calorie intake is most important when you’re trying to lose excess body weight. To lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages you to reduce your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories every day. Weight-loss diets generally contain 1,000 to 1,600 calories per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Regular tofu prepared with calcium sulfate contains only about 94 calories in each 1/2-cup portion.

    Tofu helps combat skin aging.

    Soy beans help fight aging. It slows down the signs of skin aging by helping you keep the elasticity of your skin and it even tones the muscles on your face. If you want to go the extra mile, take it from others who don’t just eat the tofu, they make a paste out of it and apply it on their skin, too!

    So the next time you’re visiting the best Chinese restaurant in San Francisco , be sure to ask for their tofu dishes! Places like Chili House SF always have some on the menu for you to enjoy. Unless you have soybean allergy, there’s no reason for you not to try their nutritious and tasty tofu dishes.

    (Source: Tofu & Weight Loss , SF Gate)