• Some of the Healthiest Foods Are Found in Chinese Dishes

    Many of the ingredients in Chinese dishes are foods that are abundant in nutrients, and they are foods that work to keep your health in good shape. You will find some of these foods listed below, along with valuable information regarding the health benefits they offer. Simply read what follows to discover the health benefits the Chinese have been reaping from these foods for many years.

    Bok Choy and Broccoli

    Broccoli as well as bok choy contains sulforaphane, a substance experts believe prevents cancer. Both of these cabbage family vegetables also contain lots of cancer-preventing vitamin C. Besides enhancing immunity, vitamin C reduces cholesterol, helps prevent heart disease, and aids in the prevention of gum recession. Protection from the damage caused by free radicals is another health benefit.

    Green Onions

    Green onions, also called scallions, have exhibited their ability to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and the chance of developing heart disease. The flavonoids contained in green onions are responsible for lowering heart attack risk, and the quercetin in this vegetable lowers the risk for colon cancer. Quercetin has also proved it can lower the risk for blood clots. Since onions are an anti-inflammatory food, they help lessen the symptoms of arthritis and the chest congestion that comes with a cold.

    Tofu

    Tofu is soybean curd. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and iron. Bean curd has been known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and it may help lower the chance of developing cancer. A drop in weight is also possible when this nutritious food is incorporated into your diet because it is low in calories.

    Bell Peppers

    Red and green bell peppers contain impressive amounts of vitamin C. One pepper of average size offers 150 percent of your daily value of this essential vitamin. Like bok choy and broccoli, bell peppers aid in the prevention of cancer.

    White Rice and Brown Rice

    Rice is a superb food for strong bones because it contains iron. Studies performed on animals indicated mammals deficient in iron had less bone density than those with adequate iron in their bodies. Brown rice is also an excellent supplier of fiber, and it is a good source of protein.

    To get the most health benefits from the Chinese dish you eat, try to avoid consuming foods that are deep fried. The fat content in foods cooked this way is extremely high, and it is unhealthy because when oil is heated to such an extreme temperature it becomes carcinogenic. You will also be better off with low-sodium soy sauce instead of the regular kind that has a high salt content. If you cook your own food, read the labels on all Chinese sauces and use them sparingly since they are usually high in sodium content. Whenever you eat out, ask your waiter how your food will be prepared, and ask him what is in it.

  • A Succulent Snack: Shumai Dim Sum

    Shumai is a traditional dish  that can be made in many different forms. In the United States, the most common form is the shumai dim sum. While there are many different fillings and techniques use for this delicious treat, it usually is served as a filling of pork in a thin dough which is streamed or fried. When biting into shumai dim sum, the dumpling will burst into a ball of flavor that will leave you begging for more.

    Meaning of Shumai Dim Sum

    Shumai is a word that translates to “to cook and sell.” This means that dumpling is most often prepared and sold at a restaurant instead of a home. It has also been suggested it was named this way because shumai “never left unsold.”

    The term “dim sum” is from a Mandarin word “dian xin” which means “touching the heart.” This speaks of the way this food is considered to be excellent for the soul. However, it is also translated as “dessert” in some situations.

    History of Dim Sum

    The earliest documented consumption of shumai occurred during the Song Dynasty at Chinese teahouses where merchants stopped in to rest while traveling the Silk Road. During the Tang Dynasty, more teahouses were introduced as a way to offer meditation as well as food and drink. While teahouses originally did not serve food, dim sum became standard over time. Shumai dim sum was originally consumed as an afternoon snack but over time became a staple of lunch and breakfast meals. In Cantonese culture, mealtime is a time for great company and conversation.

    shumai dim sum

    While business can be discussed over dim sum, the meal is largely considered a time for enjoyment. It is unknown if shumai was born along with tea and other foreign foods, but it is believed to be likely. If so, it may have been in existence even before the Song Dynasty where it was documented.

    Traditional Serving of Shumai Dim Sum

    Shumai dim sum and other dim sum dishes are most commonly served on a metal cart that is pushed around the entire restaurant. Steamed dim sum may be served in steamers made of bamboo, while other types are most often served on typical plates. All the fresh offerings will be on the plate and you call out to a server who brings you what you order. In many cases, dim sum will come in sizes of small, medium, and large.

    At traditional United States restaurants, there may not be carts and instead your chosen dishes will be served to your table, as is the typical American restaurant behavior.

    How Shumai is Made

    The most common ingredients in shumai dim sum include ground pork and shrimp, along with a small amount of vegetables and unleavened dough. Additional spices and herbs are also included to give the fragrant, tasty dish its popularity. If you haven’t tried this exceptional dish, it is something everyone should consume at least once. Give it a try!

  • Getting to Know Sichuan Cuisine


    People who live in the Sichuan region of China know that the food there is varied and that each dish has a sophisticated as well as a complex taste. Unfortunately, this knowledge doesn’t translate well to Western culture. In the United States, people primarily consider Sichuan Chinese food to be extremely hot and spicy and little else.

    Understanding the History of Sichuan Chinese Food

    The reason so many Westerners don’t fully appreciate Sichuan food is that they don’t understand the history and culture of this region of China. For one thing, it isn’t easy to reach China’s Sichuan basin because it’s surrounded on all four sides by mountains. Another important fact about the Sichuan basin is that the Qinghai-Tibet plateau sits to the west of it. Many Chinese citizens and immigrants alike saw the difficulty in reaching the Sichuan basin as a challenge to overcome. As immigrants continued to pour into the region, they brought new cultural and culinary customs with them.

    A Primer on the Flavors of Sichuan Dishes

    Increased appreciation for food from the Sichuan region of China can also come from having a greater understanding of its main flavors. Although more than 20 exist, five of the most common ones include:

    • – Fish fragrant: Chefs don’t really use fish to create this flavor. Instead, they combine seasonings popular with traditional fish cookery in China. These include ginger, garlic, pickled red chilies, scallion, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar.
    • – Garlic paste flavor: For the first step, a chef simmers soy sauce with spices and brown sugar. He or she then combines it with chili oil, mashed garlic, and sesame oil. This topping is especially popular on cold pork.
    • – Scorched chili flavor: To prepare this seasoning, a chef fries dried chilies inside of a wok until they show signs of toasting and darkening. He or she then adds several other ingredients to the wok, including Sichuan peppercorn.
    • – Spicy sesame: This basic ingredient typically tops cold dishes. It comes from a combination of dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorn.
    • – Wine fragrant: Chefs create this flavor primarily from rice wine and rice wine lees. It produces a fragmented flavor that Westerners might recognize from Chinese dishes from the region of Shanghai. However, a dash of Sichuan peppercorn helps to differentiate it.

    Some Well-Known Sichuan Dishes

    Even though they may not recognize the above flavors, many Western diners do recognize popular Sichuan dishes served here. Kung Pao Chicken, for example, is a staple on the menu of a lot of Chinese restaurants. It includes diced chicken along with golden peanuts and dry red peppers. Dan Dan noodles, also known as Dan Dan Mian, is another well-known Sichuan Chinese dish in America. An authentic serving of Dan Dan noodles contains vegetables, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, and minced pork. While it’s more on the bland side outside of the Sichuan basin, it’s known for its strong nutty, savory, smoky, and spicy flavors in its home region.

    These are just two of the many dishes Sichuan dishes Americans can enjoy in their own country. To truly experience Sichuan culture, they should consider expanding their taste buds and try several others.

  • 7 Amazing Sights to Experience in Beijing, China

    At Chili House SF, in addition to Sichuan cuisine, much of our food is inspired by or comes from dishes native to the Beijing Region. To truly appreciate this style of food, one must travel to Beijing itself. However, Our authentic cuisine here in the Richmond District of San Francisco is the next-best thing.

    For those lucky enough to get to experience Beijing in person, here are 7 sights not to be missed!

    China has long been associated with a sense of exotic mystery, and its recent political history means it’s still something of an unknown quantity for even for the most intrepid traveler. However, the last few decades have seen the country open up to western visitors, and it is now a viable destination for the adventurous tourist.

    It would take a lifetime to explore the entire country, but these seven sights in and around the capital Beijing offer a fascinating taste of China, from its imperial past right through to its modern, fast-developing face of today.

    The Forbidden City

    Spread over an area of 178 acres and made up of over 870 distinct buildings, the Forbidden City is the biggest palatial complex of its kind in the world. The site served as the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1420 to 1912 and remains a treasure trove of Chinese imperial history, culture, and architecture. It is now home to the Palace Museum, which is among the world’s most visited museums, with close to 15 million visitors each year.

    The Great Wall

    It’s often said that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space. This is, unfortunately, a myth, but there’s no doubt that this ancient fortification is one of the planet’s must-see structures from solid ground.

    The wall stretches for close to 4,000 miles in full, but several parts are within easy reach of the capital – particularly Mutianyu and Jiankou, to the northeast of downtown Beijing. Around 70,000 people visit the wall each day, but its sheer size means that you won’t feel too crowded out. However, be aware that the authorities take conservation of the wall extremely seriously, and dropping garbage and similar actions can quickly land you in hot water, so be sure to behave respectfully.

    Tiananmen Square

    The vast, hundred-acre Tiananmen Square in central Beijing is perhaps most widely known in the West for the grim events of 1989, when a pro-democracy demonstration was ended with lethal force. Although the square is worth visiting for its impressive architecture and monuments, including the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, it is nonetheless most notable for this recent history. A trip to this largest paved square in the world brings it home to the visitor that despite the recent transformation, China is still a unique, complex country behind the modern western-style facade.

    Yonghe Lama Temple

    The Yonghe Lama Temple in Dongcheng dates back to the Qing dynasty, with construction started in the late 17th century. Although it was off limits for 32 years following the communist revolution, it is now open once more as both a working Tibetan temple and a popular tourist attraction. Perhaps the most impressive sight is the huge statue of the Maitreya Buddha, reaching nearly 20 yards in height, and carved from a single piece of white sandalwood.

    The Hutongs

    Beijing visitors have no shortage of imperial splendor to marvel at, contrasting sharply with the fast-growing modern cityscape of the capital’s downtown area, but there’s yet another side to Chinese life no visitor should miss. The hutong neighborhoods such as Donxujuaominxiang, Yichidajie, and others are labyrinths of narrow streets and alleyways which once covered the city, but are slowly being lost to redevelopment. However, the remaining areas still give a powerful taste of old China and make a fascinating destination for a leisurely stroll through the hubbub of daily life.

    Food lovers willing to look beyond their hotel dining room will find plenty to thrill here, not least the delicious Beijing duck (aka Peking duck) available from handcarts and stalls spread throughout the area.

    Wangfujing Night Market

    If the Beijing duck has whetted your appetite for Chinese cuisine in all its many forms, then the Wangfujing Night Market in the Dongcheng district should be your next destination. This market is a mecca for street food and is beloved of locals and visitors alike. Be warned though – with the snacking options covering everything from scorpions to starfish, this is no place for the squeamish.

    Ming Tombs

    Lastly, fascinating as Beijing can be, there’s no doubt the bustle and size can be a little overwhelming. Recharge your batteries with a trip to the Ming Tombs on the Changping district, 26 miles to the north of Beijing city center. The complex hosts 13 mausoleums of the Ming dynasty emperors and is as impressive as you’d expect from this pedigree. However, one of its main charms is that it was constructed according to feng shui principles, with a peaceful valley backing on to protective mountains, and makes for an ideal change of pace for weary tourists.

    China remains on the list of destinations that only the more intrepid travelers will attempt, and there’s no doubt it can be a little more challenging than other more conventional tourist locations. However, the impressive delights of Beijing and surrounding areas make it well worth the effort for anyone with a love for oriental history and culture.

  • The Dish on Different Dumplings


    Aaaah, what can be more satisfying than biting into a perfect dumpling – the soft dough, the sensation of escaping steam, that first hit of flavorful filling. However, dumplings are not just tasty treats. They are also little pieces of magic when they manage to transform sometimes meager ingredients into substantial, delicious meals with just a little help from flour and water.

    But What Exactly is a Dumpling?

    Defining a real dumpling can be tricky. Are knishes, kreplach, empanadas, gnocchi, and ravioli, dumplings? They might be, but to home in on a true dumpling, two characteristics are necessary:

    • – Dough must be wrapped around a filling.
    • – The filled dough must only take three bites or fewer to eat.

    Chinese Dumplings

    China is the land of true dumplings that come in a multitude of varieties. The most common dumpling wrapper is made with wheat flour that is often combined with tapioca to provide stretch. The following describes some Chinese dumplings grouped according to two basic shapes, the crescent and the purse.

    Crescent-Shaped Dumplings

    These dumplings are easily shaped by folding a thin, round circle of dough around a filling and pleating or crimping the edges together. They can be steamed, boiled, pan- or deep-fried. Here are a few types:

    • – Guo Tie: Most Americans will say, “aha potstickers!” Guo tie are pan-fried to produce a golden brown, ultra-crisp bottom. The skin is springy and chewy and filled with a range of ingredients, the favorite being juicy pork and chives.
    • – Shui Jiao: The name means “boiled dumpling.” These tender creations have a thin wrapper and are served in broth or drained and dipped in a sauce. Typical fillings include ground pork and vegetables.
    • – Zheng Jiao: Steamed delicacies made with elegantly pleated translucent wrappers. They may contain shrimp, pork and chives, cabbage, or winter melon.
    • – Har Gow: Plump and juicy dim sum favorites. Some dumpling-making expertise is needed as chunks of crisp shrimp should be just visible through the delicate, translucent dough.
    • – Chiu-Chao Fun Gow: Crunchy treats – thin wrappers filled with a tasty mix of pork, shrimp, and peanuts. Cilantro and crisp chunks of jicama often add additional flavor.

    Purse-Shaped Dumplings

    So-called because the filled dough is pleated and drawn together like a draw-string purse. Here are some descriptions:

    • – Siu Mai: Steamed, white-skinned dim sum classics. Juicy, open-topped concoctions filled with pork and/or shrimp and often enhanced with grated carrot, fish roe, or a single pea.
    • – Jiu Cai Bau: Generously filled with peppery chives and pan-fried to produce a blistered, crisp crust.
    • – Xiao Long Bao: The filling includes collagen-rich pork parts that produce a sticky, thick stock that solidifies when cooling and melts during steaming. It’s delightful to suck out the rich, savory soup from the dough before digging into the tender, springy meatball within.
    • – Sheng Jian Bao: A popular Shanghai fried breakfast food or snack cooked with just enough water to steam the dumplings through. As the water evaporates, a tender, juice-filled treat with a golden, crisply fried bottom results.</li

    Other Chinese Dumplings

    There is an abundance of other differently-shaped Chinese dumpling treats. Here’s just a sampling.

    • – Won Ton: Square-shaped won tons are common in soups, bobbing alongside noodles and cabbage. The filling is usually ground pork and/or shrimp. They can also be deep-fried and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
    • – Haam Sui Gok: Made with a glutinous rice dough and deep-fried to produce a blistered, crispy exterior with a chewy, doughy layer underneath. A variety of savory or sweet fillings is used.
    • – Wu Gok: Pretty fried pork dumplings made from frilly strands of purple taro. They’re a study in delicious contrasts – both savory and sweet and crisp and tender.
    • – Tang Yuan: Sticky and sweet boiled rice dumplings. Typical fillings are rock candy, sesame or red bean paste, or peanuts. Usually added to sesame, sweet bean, or ginger soup.

    The Influence of Chinese Dumplings

    Over the centuries, Chinese dumpling culture has spread to neighboring countries that have developed their own unique dumplings:

    • – mandu (Korea); gyoza (Japan); momo (Nepal and Tibet); samosa, guja, modak (India)

    Dumplings have also traveled further abroad and include:

    • – pierogis (Poland); pelmeni (Siberia); vareniki (Ukraine); khinkali (Georgia); manti (Turkey)

    It’s simply impossible to list all the different types of dumplings but what is certain is that the rest of the world has a lot to thank China for.

  • Experience Sichuan Culture with Face Swapping and Kung Fu Tea at Chili House

    Over the next few weeks, Chili House SF invites you to take a deep dive into authentic Chinese culture and experience one of the most unique and mesmerizing performances in the world, as we graciously host renowned artist Xumin Liu , master of Gong Fu (or “Kung Fu”) tea and Bian Lian, or “face swapping”.

    kung fu tea at chili house sf

    Kung Fu Tea is a traditional form of tea brewing that quite literally translates to “making tea with skill”, traces its roots all the back to the 3 rd century. The overall process, which puts heavy emphasis on quality ingredients, water chemistry, and temperature, helps to bring out and improve the flavors and aroma of the tea, heightening the drinker’s experience.

    Liu’s accompanies his performance by serving his tea with complex and acrobatic pours, utilizing long spouted copper teakettles. As Liu has noted, the use of the teakettles goes far beyond the shear spectacle. The resulting pour from the special kettle helps unlock the flavors upon the pour , further heightening the experience.

    bian lian or chinese face changing by xumin liu Bian Lain , or “face swapping” is an ancient dramatic Chinese art and staple of operas in the Sichuan province. Performers in ornate masks and costumes will conduct choreographed moves and dances, all while swapping the color and style of the mask they are wearing at what appears to be fractions of a second. The techniques utilized by the true Bian Lain masters are as heavily guarded as American magicians secrets, with stories of actors offering tens of thousands of dollars to learn the secrets behind the art .

    Xumin Liu, a native of the Sichuan province, began studying and practicing the art of Gong Fu tea in his early 20’s, while under the wing of known tea master Shifu Chen. Liu complemented these skills by training in the martial art of Wushu at a Taoist monastery on the Quigcheng Mountian. His background in martial arts helps give his Gong Fu performances an added level of fluidity and athleticism, capturing the awe of all who come to see him (including world famous California chef Alice Waters ).

    About ten years ago, famed face-swapping artist Shimen Lu took one of Liu’s Gong Fu performances in Korea and immediately recognized his natural talent and presence. That performance lead to Lu offering to take Liu under his wing and teach him the coveted art of face swapping. After years of practice, Liu includes a face-swapping aspect into all his dinner shows, rounding out a truly magical performance.

    Liu will be gracing our diners with his one-of-a-kind performances over the next eight weeks, giving you ample time to come plan an excursion out to the our Inner Richmond location to take in a once in a lifetime dining experience. As we want all of our diners to be able to take in one of Liu’s shows, we suggest calling ahead to ensure Liu will be performing during your visit.

    We hope to see you there, you will not want to miss it!

  • Chinese New Year Events Around San Francisco in 2018

    Since the mid 1800s, San Francisco has been ground zero for the most vibrant Chinese New Year celebrations in North America. As a long time haven for immigrants and ex-pats looking to establish a life in West, the growing Chinese population quickly established cultural roots in the city and helped establish the worlds most well known Chinatown outside of Asia. By the 1860’s, community began using the New Year celebration to not expose westerners to their culture, but also incorporate elements of American holiday festivities, such as the parade. As a result, the Chinese New Year Parade was established.

    Over time, the celebrations became bigger and bigger, evolving into a festival spanning two weeks and featuring a plethora of fun events. This year marks the Year of the Dog (year 4716 on the lunar calendar), and the city has been hard a work making sure this years celebration goes off without a hitch. Below you will find some of these years events you will not want to miss!

    Mini Procession Preview and Ribbon Cutting (Feb. 10th)

    The mini procession review is the perfect place to get a sneak-peek at some of the floats that will feature prominently in the upcoming larger parade. This event follows the original parade route used over 150 years ago. Beginning at St. Mary’s Square and ending at the Flower Market Fair’s main stage (on Washington below Grant), the parade concludes with a ceremonial ribbon cutting attended by city official and honored guests (signifying the official opening of the festival). Guests in attendance will enjoy lion dancers, drummers, giant puppets and other performances. Read more here .

    Flower Market Fair (Feb. 10th – 11th)

    Immediately following the mini parade, guests can enjoy the annual Flower Market Fair , where over 120 vendor booths and concessions showcase an abundance of fresh flowers, fruits and plants while enjoying traditional dance, music and art displays. There is a significant cultural relevance to flowers and fruits, especially surrounding New Years. Oranges and tangerines both symbolize abundant happiness, and tangerines with the leaves left intact represents a strong secure relationship with your partner. Fresh flowers are a staple of Chinese households as they symbolize good fortune. In fact, a flower in bloom on New Years Day is known to be a sign of prosperity in the New Year so having a house filled with fresh, lively flowers is incredibly important and the Flower Market Fair is the place to be to stock up!

    The Chinese New Year Parade (Feb 24th)

    The crown jewel of the Chinese New Year’s festivities, San Francisco’s parade is the gold standard at which all other Chinese New Year parades are measured. This year’s parade will feature over 100 participants, allowing attendees to enjoy scores of elaborate floats, displays, and performances from groups and organizations across the greater Bay Area. The crowd favorite is always the Golden Dragon, a 268 ft. puppet operated by a team of over 180 men and women that is truly a sight to see. There will also be plenty of fireworks, so make sure to pack earplugs!

    Attendee the parade is free of charge, although spectators who wish to purchase tickets to sit in designated bleacher seats along the route may do so. Additionally, the parade will be broadcast live on KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26.

    Chinatown Community Street Fair (Feb 24th-25th)

    As the festival begins to wind down, Chinatown plays host to the Community Street Fair , featuring over 100 different vendors and concessions selling a wide array of art, clothing and gifts to help commemorate the events of the festival. Attendees can enjoy traditional Chinese food and entertainment, while being given the opportunities to take photos with some or the giant dragons and puppets that were featured in the parade.

    No matter what you choose to do to help ring in the Chinese New Year, San Francisco has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Although it may be tough to attend them all, just going to one of the many great events this festival has to offer will give you a front row seat to immerse yourself in authentic Chinese culture.

  • How to Eat Dumplings Like a Pro

    soup dumplings at Chili House SF

    Soup dumplings are an essential part of any Chinese meal, but not everyone knows what they are or how to eat them. The bite-sized food consists of a shell made from dough, which can come from several different sources of starch. It is soft and chewy. The inside contains hot soup made from a variety of ingredients. Cooks often recommend that diners consume the soup dumpling in one bite to fully appreciate the combined taste of the thin flour wrapper, meat filling, and broth.

    Common Mistakes When People Eat Soup Dumplings for the First Time

    Since the Chinese eat most food with chopsticks, some diners assume that this is also the correct way to eat a soup dumpling. However, the dumpling is too delicate to pick up or poke with a chopstick and will leak the broth of the soup all over the table or plate. Another common mistake is to grab it with fingers or a fork and place the whole thing in the mouth. That can be painful when the dumpling breaks open and hot soup spills out.

    Use a Soup Spoon

    Chinese restaurants typically serve dumplings with a large soup spoon, signaling to diners that this is what they should use to eat the dumpling . However, the diner still needs to get the dumpling onto the spoon. He or she can accomplish this by using a pair of chopsticks and picking it up closest to the knot. For those not wanting to risk a puncture, asking the wait staff for a pair of tongs is the next best option.

    How Diners Can Eat a Soup Dumpling without Burning Their Mouth

    As mentioned above, it’s best for people not to put the whole dumpling in their mouth at once. Instead, they should take a small bite from the side of the dumpling while it’s still on the soup spoon. This allows some of the hot broth to drain so the diner can slurp on it first.

    If the restaurant uses smaller soup spoons, it’s best to take a small bite from the top of the dumpling first. After allowing a few moments for it to cool down, the diner can suck the hot broth through the top of the dumpling and then place the remainder of it in his or her mouth for chewing.

    It can take a few sessions of trial and error, but it won’t be long before the person new to soup dumplings eats them like a pro.

  • 10 Underrated Activities to Try on a Trip to San Francisco

    If you’re from out of town and planning a trip here to San Francisco, you could be among the nearly 69,000 people that visit the City by Bay each day. Tourism in San Francisco brings in approximately $8.9 billion in annual revenue to the city as people visit places such as Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Once you’ve seen Alcatraz, had some chocolate at Ghirardelli, and consumed an authentic meal in Chinatown , what else is there to do? Aside from visiting us here at Chili House on Clement St. (of course), there is a ton to do. Here are ten underrated activities in San Francisco that promise to delight and get you away from the typical tourist crowds.

    view of Alcatraz from San Francisco's Presidio

    1. Hike the Presidio

    San Francisco is a city, but it’s one that makes it simple to get back to nature. A former military base within the city limits, The Presidio is now a national park with more than 24 miles of trails that wind through meadows, overlooks, and eucalyptus groves.

    2. Sample Craft Beers

    Northern California is known for its wines, but San Francisco also has an exploding craft beer industry. If wine isn’t your thing, or you just don’t want to make a trip to Napa, spend some time touring some of the city’s craft breweries. A few notable ones are Toronado , Monk’s Kettle , and Hopwater Distribution .

    3. Explore Chinatown’s Alleys

    A visit to San Francisco isn’t complete without some time in the city’s Chinatown. Once you’ve sated your appetite with some authentic Chinese cuisine, be sure to explore all that Chinatown has to offer. In particular, the surrounding alleys, such as Ross Alley, have some interesting shops and bakeries.

    4. Go to North Beach

    Also known as San Francisco’s “Little Italy,” North Beach is a neighborhood that is often overlooked by tourists. Visit here, and you’ll be delighted to find some excellent Italian food, coffee shops, bakeries, boutiques, and bars.

    5. View Clarion Alley’s Street Art

    If you find yourself anywhere near the Mission District, be sure to track down Clarion Alley so that you can view the iconic street art. The entire alley is full of colorful murals and street art, some of it political in nature.

    6. Climb the 16th Ave Tiled Steps

    After you’ve walked up the winding Lombard Street, head over to Moraga Street between 15th and 16th Aves for another treat. This neighborhood project of 163 tiled steps is stunning from the bottom, and once you reach the top, you’ll have views of the city and the ocean.

    7. Check Out the Free Museums

    You can certainly pay to go to some museums in San Francisco, but you’ll also find some interesting history in a few of the city’s free museums. The Cable Car Museum shows the inner workings of the city’s cable cars and its system. The Wells Fargo History Museum teaches visitors how to properly drive a stagecoach. You can meet native animals at the city’s Randall Museum .

    8. Hang Out in Dolores Park

    Golden Gate Park is a must-visit but if you want to hang with the locals, be sure to put Dolores Park on your list as well. This massive expanse of green is the perfect spot to catch some rays, have a picnic, people watch, and view San Francisco’s skyline in the distance.

    9. Climb the Batteries on Bluffs Trail

    If you go to Baker Beach, you can find the “Batteries to Bluffs Trail,” which will take you on a scenic stroll along San Francisco’s coastline. A stop at Marshall’s Beach will give you some incredible Golden Gate Bridge photo ops, where you can also view and climb the massive batteries.

    10. Explore the San Francisco Zoo

    The San Francisco Zoo is one of this nation’s top zoos. Located in the Sunset District, the zoo hosts more than 1,000 endangered, exotic, and rescued animals in the midst of lush gardens and plant life.

    Of course, you’ll want to visit all of the standard spots on your upcoming San Francisco visit. But, use these underrated activities to fill in the gaps and make your experience in the City by the Bay as unique as possible.

  • 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!