• Tips for Bringing Children to a Chinese Restaurant

    Even children who are normally well-behaved can feel stressed in the unfamiliar environment of a Chinese restaurant. Not only is the food dramatically different than anything they have tried before, their parents’ expectations of them are as well. While it can be unrealistic to expect patience on top of quiet, respectful behavior, parents can engage in several activities while waiting for the food to help pass the time.

    Distraction is the Name of the Game

    Going to a Chinese restaurant for the first time is a novelty for most children. This is something that parents can use to their advantage. For example, they can explain that chopsticks in China serve the same purpose as silverware in the United States. If this catches the child’s attention, mom or dad can teach them how to hold chopsticks the right way. Many kids are already familiar with how to hold a pencil, which is a great way to start the demonstration. Placing a rubber band at the top of the chopsticks makes them easier for kids to use.

    kids using chopsticks for the 1st time

    Asking for a few fortune cookies before the food arrives is one time when it would be good to eat dessert first. Finding a message inside of their cookie is a special experience for kids, even if they don’t know how to read yet. Parents can read the fortune and use it to play a game of make-believe with their children. Placemats with Chinese zodiac signs on them provide another opportunity to pass time by reading the appropriate one for each member of the family.

    Kid-Friendly Chinese Dishes

    Children who aren’t used to hot or spicy food may be startled by a traditional Chinese dish. It is better to start with milder flavors to get them accustomed to different flavors and textures first. Eggs rolls and dumplings are easy to cut up and kids will enjoy the novelty of dunking them into sauce. They may not even notice they’re eating vegetables at all. For kids who normally like soup, they should enjoy the taste of egg drop or wonton soup. These both tend to be more colorful than regular soup, which can appeal to a child’s sense of novelty as well.

    Lo mein or cold noodles in sesame sauce will be just like eating spaghetti for kids. Vegetables and chicken in a light sauce, called Mo Goo Gai Pain, is easy for children to chew and tasty as well. Parents may want to avoid sweet and sour dishes due to the high sugar content.

    Some Etiquette Tips to Keep in Mind

    It can be hard for adults to know proper etiquette in a Chinese restaurant, let alone children. Nevertheless, parents should make it a point to impart the following:

    • Avoid placing chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice. This may remind the servers of burning incense for the dead and is considered bad manners.
    • Use chopsticks to pick up food but not to spear it.
    • Don’t use the chopsticks as drumsticks to make sounds that may annoy other diners.
    • Plan to take some leftovers home or the host may assume the children are still hungry.

    By taking children to Chinese restaurants regularly, it will soon become second nature and etiquette will barely register as a concern.

  • Gou Bu Li Bao Zi – A Tianjin Specialty in San Francisco

    A quality of any great restaurant is a love and respect for traditional dishes and recipes. Those recipes, weather followed to a tee or used as inspiration for a new dish, can help restaurants use their menus to tell whatever stories they want. At Chili House, we are proud to announce a new addition to our menu: the Gou Bui Li bun, a fiercely popular dish and a culinary staple in the Tianjin.

    goubuli buns

    A Baozi bun is a steamed bun that can be filled with a variety of different meats and vegetables. As portable as they are delicious, bouzi buns are often enjoyed in restaurants and as a take away street food. There are two different versions of the baozi bun; the Xiabao, (or small bun) which are generally served in restaurants three to ten to a plate, or the Dabao (or big bun), the preferred version of most street vendors. According to some accounts, the famed scholar and military strategist Zhuge Liang invented the baozi bun during the Three Kingdoms period.

    Over the years as the popularity of the dish grew leaps and bounds, different names and variations of the dish began to pop up and reflect how the steamed buns made their mark in various regions of China. One area particularly fond of baozi buns is Tianjin, where they are known as Goubuli Baozi. The story goes that the dish was introduced by a man named Gao Guiyou, whose nickname growing up was Gou Zi (translating to “baby dog”). As an adult he started selling the baozi buns for a living, and they got so popular in Tianjin that he could not be bothered to talk to customers while he worked. Locals started calling his buns “gou bu li baozi”, literally translating to “stuffed bun that dogs are not interested in”.

    gou bu li bao zi buns

    The term Gou bu li became so synonymous with the food in Tianjin that locals don’t call it anything else (think how everyone call facial tissue “Kleenex” here in America). In fact, the name is lent to one of the Tianjin’s oldest and most established food brands. Goubuli was founded in 1858 and continues to produce baozi buns in the same vain as Gao did. While seniority has been on their side, sales over the years have dwindled and the company has been looking for ways to expand their reach globally. Last year they signed a deal for rights to Gloria Jean’s Coffee’s , an American coffee chain. The deal is said to have opened the doors to Goubuli establishing the Goubuli baozi as a perfect pairing with coffee.

    A combination of traditional ingredients and the unique styles and flavors of our chefs, the Goubuli buns we will be serving at Chili House will truly be the best of both worlds. Don’t be surprised if San Francisco becomes the newest destination for Goubuli Baozi!

  • Getting to Know Dongpo Pork

    If you have a passion for Asian cuisine and have visited a high-end Zhejiang restaurant, you may have heard of or tasted Dong Po pork. This is not a dish on every menu, as its complexity and richness make it a culinary treat only found in homes and authentic eateries in some regions.

    dong po pork

    Some interesting things to know about flavorful Dong Po pork include the following:

    Unique origin. This dish has an interesting and ancient origin, discovered purely by culinary accident, by poet and scholar Su Dongpo . Legend is that he was preparing pork when he got caught up in a game of chess with a guest, leaving his meal simmering away for a long period of time. It has evolved from the early 1000’s to be a delectable dish found in contemporary Zhejiang cuisine .

    Proper pork. If you plan on making your own dish, you first need a proper Dong Po pork belly recipe. Authentic, often hard-to-find ingredients are key for achieving the right flavor that distinguishes the tender pork, sweet sauce, and savory fat from other preparations. Perhaps the most difficult-to-find item is the Shaoxing hua tiao wine, which you should be able to order from a specialty Asian market or grocer; this wine brings depth of flavor and complexity to the rich pork belly during simmering.

    Serving tips. Dong Po pork is a true culinary treat- not something that should be eaten every day. Per Eastern medicine, this dish should never be paired with certain foods to maintain accordance with the theory of medicine diet. Some foods warned about include:

    • Smoked plums
    • Licorice
    • Shrimp and shellfish
    • Squab, quail, or pigeon
    • Almonds
    • Lamb, beef, and donkey
    • Caraway
    • Turtle
    • Water chestnuts

    The next time you dine at Chili House in San Francisco, be sure to check out our Dong Po pork. If you are fortunate enough to have access to the authentic ingredients, make your own! Dong Po pork is a rich, savory treat that promises to melt in your mouth and tickle your taste buds.

  • Dan Dan Noodles – A Sichaun Speciality

    Some people love Chinese food based on their Americanized perception of the cuisine. Favorites might include Chop suey, General Tso’s chicken, and Mongolian beef. Yet, those who crave authentic Chinese fare understand that the real dishes coming from mainland China often are both simpler in composition and have a much more powerful kick. One such dish that is incredibly popular is called Dan Dan Noodles.

    Dan Dan Noodles History

    If you enjoy Chinese Sichuan cuisine, you won’t want to miss Dan Dan Noodles. These famous spicy noodles received their name from the way in which they have been cooked and served in China.

    “Dan Dan” refers to the type of carrying pole that street vendors would use to sell the dishes to pedestrians. The pole was carried on the shoulders of the vendor with two baskets on either side, one carrying the noodles and the other with the sauce. The name translates to “noodles carried on a pole.”

    The most famous Dan Dan noodles are probably from a peddler named Chen Baobao in Zigong . His noodles gained notoriety because he carried them everywhere so that people could try them, and he used a two-celled pot to cook the dish. Today, they continue to be known as both tasty and spicy traditional Chinese cuisine.

    dan dan noodles

    What Are Dan Dan Noodles?

    Dan Dan noodles themselves are made by rolling dough into noodles, although many recipes allow you to purchase and use dried Chinese egg noodles for the dish. While the noodles are an important ingredient, it’s the sauce and the remainder of the toppings that gives the dish its authentic spicy flavor.

    Common ingredients of a Dan Dan noodles recipe include Ya-cai (preserved mustard greens), minced pork, soy beans, and chili powder. Often ingredients such as scallions, ginger, garlic, bok choy, and pickles are stir fried and combined with chili oil.

    If you order Dan Dan noodles in the United States, it’s possible that you could get an Americanized version of this classic dish. In some restaurants, the spice is removed and replaced with sweetness. In others, sesame paste or peanut butter is sometimes added to the recipe.

    Serving Dan Dan Noodles

    Traditionally, Dan Dan noodles were considered a popular snack, so they weren’t served up as meal-sized dishes. In most places, they still aren’t. Most authentic Chinese chefs recommend that you serve Dan Dan noodles in smaller bowls. This is because the dish is best enjoyed hot, both spicy and at a higher temperature. Smaller servings allow diners to enjoy this special dish while the steam floats off of the surface and the topping remain crispy.

    Come visit Chili House to try San Francisco’s best Dan Dan noodles. Check out this review on Yelp:

    “Absolutely must get: Dan dan mien. The main reason I keep coming back here is for this dish. It’s hands down the best version of these noodles I’ve ever had and something I’ve introduced many friends to.” Jonathan Y., San Francisco

  • Peking Duck vs. Donald Duck – Infographic

    Peking Duck is one of the world’s most iconic dishes, dating back all the way to the early 14th century and the Yuan Dynasty. But can Peking Duck lay claim to the title of “world’s most famous duck”? In our infographic below, we size up the formidable Peking Duck against a younger but very worthy competitor: Disney’s Donald Duck.

    In our research, we found that Donald Duck is very strong in a number of areas. With nearly 370,000 Google searches of his name per month worldwide, and an estimated 533 mentions per day on Twitter, Donald gets talked about more often than Peking Duck .

    However, with the wisdom that comes from being nearly 700 years old, along with a searing hot internal temperature of 375 degrees Farenheit, Peking Duck won’t be giving up his crown easily.

    Ultimately, we’ll call this one a draw, as Google Trends research shows varying levels of interest for the two ducks depending on location. In Australia, Peking Duck actually trends higher than Donald Duck, while in the Netherlands and Norway, people apparently can’t get enough of Disney’s animated quacker.

    If you’d like to share this infographic or embed it on your site, please use the instructions and links below the image! ( Click image to enlarge )

    peking duck vs donald duck infographic

    To embed this infographic on your website, please cut and paste the following HTML code onto your webpage:

    <a href=”http://www.chilihousesf.com/blog/2016/09/peking-duck-vs-donald-duck-infographic/”><img src=”http://www.chilihousesf.comhttps://www.chilihousesf.com/wp-content/uploads/peking-vs-donald-duck-infographic.jpg”></a><br><a href=”http://www.chilihousesf.com/”>Copyright 2016 Chili House SF</a>

  • Business Over Dim Sum: Corporate Catering in San Francisco

    Cater your next business event in San Francisco with dim sum from Chili House SF. With a standard of Chinese cooking excellence fit for a president , your guests and employees will be impressed with your great taste!

    Dim sum is a culinary tradition dating back thousands of years to the ancient Silk Road in China. Tea houses popped up all along the long trail, catering to weary travelers in need of rest. These tea houses would offer bite-sized snacks along with their teas. These bite sized snacks were intended to lift spirits. or “touch the heart” as the translation of “dim sum” from Chinese to English suggests.

    **CLICK HERE TO REQUEST A CUSTOM QUOTE FOR DIM SUM CATERING**

    From our delicious BBQ pork buns to our savory shrimp dumplings, dim sum is a perfect option for catering business luncheons or brunches, especially in San Francisco. Our dim sum catering services will warm the spirits of your clients and guests just as the tea houses of the Silk Road did many centuries ago.

    dim sum corporate catering by Chili House SF

    If you would like to discuss a catering plan and receive a quote for a business or corporate dim sum event from Chili House, please use the form at the top of this page , or call (415) 387-2658!

    We can plan the meal and make recommendation based on group size, the type of event, and any other information you provide. Try Chili House dim sum catering for San Francisco today!

  • Everything You Wanted To Know About Kung Pao Chicken

    kung pao chicken

    One of the popular dishes available at any Chinese restaurant is Kung Pao Chicken. While generally associated with Westerners and the “westernized” Chinese cuisine, story of its origin can still be traced back to China.

    The story begins in the Guizhou province in southern China. As a young boy in the early 19 th century, Ding Baozhen accidently fell into water not knowing how to swim. Thanks to the quick action of a local, Ding was saved and went on to hold a government post in the Sichuan province. Wanting to reach out and thank the man who saved his life years ago, Ding visited the man and his family to express his gratitude. While there, the man served him a dish he had never had before , featuring diced and marinated chicken, peanuts, and spicy Sichuan peppercorns.

    He enjoyed the dish so much he asked for the recipe and started serving it to guests in his home as well. Not long after that, the dish spread across the province and took on the name Gongbao Jiding , named after the man responsible for its popularity.

    As time when on, the Kung Pao Chicken made its way into restaurants all around China and eventually North America, where westerners fell in love with the spicy and savory dish. A crucial element of the authentic, “Sichuan-style” version features authentic Sichuan peppercorns, although Western versions of the dish could not utilize them until 2005 when an import ban was lifted off the pepper.

    While the dish has remained quite popular in America and is still served happily in restaurants in China, the dish does not exactly hold the same clout . For one, chicken-based dishes are not as popular in China, as the meat produced locally is often dry and tasteless. As a result, chicken is generally imported from Japan. Also, most locals shy away from dishes that feature the starchy and syrupy suaces many American-Chinese restaurants feature.

    For any fan of bold and spicy flavors, Kung Pao Chicken is a must-try dish. At Chili House, we prepare our own Kung Pao Chicken with the same spices and peppers that were featured in the original incarnation of the dish. Come visit us today for a authentic Sichaun experience!

  • Tips for Pairing Drinks with Chinese Food

    pairing wine with Chinese food Chinese food is often rich, soft, and spicy, but it’s also incredibly diverse. The beverage accompanying it can make or break the meal. To enjoy the full flavor of the food and fully appreciate the experience, selecting the right wine or beer is essential. Below are some tips from food experts on how to do just that.

    Blending German Wine and Asian Food for the Perfect Taste

    Chris Horn, a sommelier at Purple Café in the Seattle area, suggests that German Riesling makes a good combination with nearly any Asian food. This is especially true for spicy dishes like Sichuan and Szechuan.

    He recommends matching the sugar in the wine with the spice of the lunch or dinner. Auslese is a top-of-the-line brand, followed by Spatlese and Kabinett . If the dish leans more towards the sweet rather than the spicy side, diners should consider upping the sweetness factor of their Riesling. Other good choices in German wines are Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

    Dim Sum

    Beijing-style cuisine and Dim Sum offer diners with nearly endless lunch or dinner choices. The dishes may be light or heavy, while spices and heat can range from mild to intense. A good rule of thumb with Dim Sum is to stick to wines that have both significant weight and high acidity. For dishes containing spicy noodles, tofu, or rice, the primary concerns are heat and texture. In these cases, a wine with softer acidity helps to balance the high temperature.

    What to Drink with Shrimp Fried Rice

    Shrimp fried rice contains ingredients such as scrambled eggs, ginger, mango, and coconut that Americans love to eat. The only problem is that the rich flavors from these foods can get lost with certain types of wines. That is not the case with Fetzer or Hogue Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley wines or the Herman J. Weimer Gewurztraminer wine, which costs approximately twice as much.

    The Best Red Wine Choices for Chinese Food

    Malbec, New World Cab, and Shiraz/Syrah are all red wines that contain an abundance of ripe fruit and have only a moderate level of acidity. For dishes that come covered in barbeque sauce, Alamos Malbec is an ideal complement. This smooth and rich wine tastes especially flavorful when served chilled.

    Chinese dishes on the lighter side pair well with Alpha Estate Rose . It has a sweet, tropical fruit flavor that Asian food enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. Jacob’s Creek, made in Australia, goes well with Hunan style beef or lamb.

    Don’t Forget About Beer

    Certain Chinese dishes go better with beer than they do with wine. Some pairings to consider include:

    • Saison : Its dry finish and lemon and pepper flavors go well with the peppercorns found in many noodle dishes.
    • Berliner Weisse : This beer has a lower alcohol content, slightly creamy texture, and mild acidity to cool the heat of some of the spicier Chinese foods.
    • Pepe Naro : Brewed with peppercorns, this beer has higher carbonation and a lighter body to counteract the chili oils.

    For those who feel like they didn’t get the combination just right, that is all the more excuse to keep trying their favorite Chinese dishes, wine, and beer.

  • Getting to Know Chinese Pancakes

    Aside from the dishes we are most known for, like our famous Peking Duck and Dim Sum, here at Chili House we strive to serve the widest range of authentic Chinese dishes. One of our personal favorites happens to be our delicious Beef Pancakes, a take on one of China’s most popular treats. Today we are going to take a look at the history of this storied delicacy and how it came to prominence.

    chinese beef pancakes

    The snack, similar to what is known in China as “Jianbing,” traces its roots all the way back to the Shandong Province during the Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 280 AD). Legend has it that Zhuge Liang, the chancellor of the state of Shu Han, was struggling to find an effective way to feed his soldiers who had lost their cooking supplies during battle. As a result, Liang had cooks concoct a mixture of water and wheat flour to be cook thinly and evenly across copper-made griddles (and sometimes even using the soldiers shields as a cooking surface). The result was a light, crispy crepe that helps sustain and boost the morale of the soldiers on the battlefield.

    The dish proved popular beyond its application on the battlefield, and would later be passed down through generations. Today, Chinese pancakes can be found cooking on street corners in every major metropolitan neighborhood across China. The recipe is quite simple; as the wheat and bean flour pancake fries, eggs, scallions and cilantro are added on top and folded. Finally, chili paste, hoisin sauce and lettuce are added to taste. The pastry is then folded a few more times for easy eating on the go.

    To say the least, Chinese pancakes have become the quintessential breakfast food in China, satisfying scores of hungry workers across China. In contrast to popular American street fare, Chinese pancakes are anything but fast food. Every one is cooked fresh to order, meaning there is always a line at the local vendor. In fact, many plan their commute to work around setting aside enough time to grab one!

    Up until recently one would have trouble locating the snack outside of China and Taiwan, but its popularity and reach has steadily grown over the years. Today, people across the US work to recreate and share the snack they fell in love with during their time in China. One of the most popular variations (and one that has proved quite popular with our customers as well!) are Chinese pancakes with beef . It is quite similar to the traditional recipe, the only difference being the use of slow-braised beef instead of egg. Rumor has it that this variation was popularized in Taiwanese and Chinese restaurants in Southern California looking for a way to have traditional dishes strike a chord with Americans, likening it to the ever-popular wraps and burritos.

    Chinese pancakes are perfect for those looking to add another Chinese culinary icon to their list of favorite dishes. We suggest searching your area for restaurants and seek out all the different variations available. While you are at it, don’t forget to stop in for our beef pancakes as well!

  • The History of Peking Duck – an Authentic Delicacy

    One of the most wonderful and fascinating aspects of the culinary arts is the history behind each and every dish we enjoy. From the four course meals at Michelin Star-rated restaurants to the every day comfort food whipped up at the neighborhood “greasy spoon”, every dish has a unique story. The same can be said for traditional Chinese dishes, whose origins are as vibrant as the flavors they are known for. Today we are going to look at a staple of Chinese cuisine (as well as a staple of our menu!), the history of Peking Duck.

    Peking Duck ready to be carved by Chili House chef

    The earliest incarnation of the dish dates back to the early 14 th century. Hu Sihui, the official dietitian for the emperor and rest of the royal court during the Yuan Dynasty, included the recipe in his highly influential book Yinshan Zhengyao (Important Principles of Food and Drink) , which to this day remains a pillar of both Chinese medicine and cuisine. At this time recipes like these were considered highly guarded secrets, being perfected and reserved for only the highest members of royalty.

    The fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 brought about many changes in China and paved way for the rise of the Ming Dynasty. By this time, the recipe took on the name “Peking Duck” , named for the capitol city in China (no more commonly referred to as Beijing). The dishes association with nobility continued, becoming a regular feature on imperial court menus. It was last during this time that Bianyifang, the first and oldest restaurant specializing in Peking Duck, was established the Qianmen area of Beijing.

    Popularity only grew as time went on, and it was during the Qing Dynasty that Peking Duck became world renowned. During this period of time that the upper class populous began enjoying the dish along with members of royalty. In fact, the dish became so popular that it began to be mentioned in the works of poets and scholars. It was also during this time that saw the establishment of Quanjude in 1864, a world renowned restaurant still operating to this day well known for perfecting the hung-in-the-oven roasting technique.

    As a result of the dishes prominence over hundreds of years, Peking Duck became a must-try for world leaders and dignitaries looking for a slice of authentic Chinese culture. In fact, Quanjude has hosted and served notable figures such as George H. W. Bush, Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, and Kim Jong Il. Legend has it that Quanjude’s Peking Duck playing a significant role in the normalization of relations between the US and China in the 1970’s.

    During a secret visit to the country in 1971, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his advisory team dined on a 12-course lunch at Quanjude that featured Peking Duck. Impressed by the dish and the hospitality received during the lunch (It is said that then-Chinese premier Zhou En-lai personally showed Kissinger how to wrap a Chinese crepe around the duck), Kissinger and his team were put at ease during the trip. The very next year President Nixon personally flew to China to formally normalize the countries’ relationship, marking the first time a sitting president visited the People’s Republic of China and ending 25 years of separation between the countries.

    Peking Duck is the quintessential Chinese dish, and should tried by any and every budding foodie looking to explore authentic Chinese cuisine. For the absolute best Peking Duck in the Bay Area, look no further than Chili House!