• 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.

  • The Importance of the Peking Duck Process

    The creation of the traditional Peking duck dish is something that requires a careful knowledge of an age-old skill. Prepared the same way since the Imperial era, this Chinese dish is an important cultural cornerstone.

    The crisp skin combined with the correct fat to meat ratio is something that can’t be replicated utilizing shortcuts of any kind. Far too many people have been fed an inferior product, and there’s a very telling difference between commercially prepared Peking duck and the authentically prepared dish.

    An Overview of the Traditional Method

    The traditional method of Peking duck preparation is as old as the Northern and Southern dynasties. The chef would choose a White Beijing duck, a breed heavily domesticated in China, and roast the duck to slow perfection. They did this using either a convection method, or a second method that suspended the duck above the flame.

    The second method has been continued with a great deal of success throughout traditional Chinese restaurants. The preparation of the traditional Peking duck involves the following:

    • Choosing and plucking an appropriate White Beijing duck
    • Air is pushed between its skin and flesh, and an incision is made to remove its entrails
    • The bird is cleaned and skewered with a wooden rod which allows it to be suspended above the flame
    • The duck is sometimes soaked in boiling water to tighten skin and then filled with water and sewn shut once again
    • After being thoroughly hung and dried the duck’s skin will be brushed or marinated using sugar or other traditional agents
    • The last step involves the suspension of the duck in a large oven at a temperature of around 500F for between 30-40 minutes

    The duck will be deemed ready when its skin has a beautiful reddish color and has the crisp texture that can only be achieved via traditional cooking methods. In restaurants that continue to embrace the old ways, the chef will bring the duck to the table and slice it into more than 100 thin and succulent sections.

    Why is the Traditional Method Preferred Over Modern Alternatives?

    An article by Veronica Lin highlights some of the problems with cutting corners and utilizing cheaper and faster electric ovens. In Lin’s interview with chef Lu Xiaofei, she uncovers the advantages that cooking in the traditional large fireclay oven provides over modern electric means.

    Lu notes the chef’s ability to carefully monitor the cooking duck and to make immediate changes when necessary. This close attention to detail combined with the original fruit flavors infused with the woods creates a finished product unique to this timeless method.

    How Far Chinese Chefs in California are Willing to Go to Preserve Tradition

    The practice of preparing and serving traditional Peking duck is so sacred to the Chinese culture that local California chefs and activists lobbied to have health code exceptions made in their favor. These exceptions allow the duck to be hung in the windows of traditional Chinese establishments while being dried according to ancient methods of preparation.

    Since the exception was made for Peking duck in the 1980s , chefs have continued to embrace and practice cooking methods that keep a cultural tradition alive and well for future generations.

  • Noods Noods Noods Hits the Bay Area

    Noods Noods Noods is an incredible festival featuring the unlikely combination of two very popular worlds – noodles and video gaming. Following the success of Noods Noods Noods in Southern California, the festival came to Oakland on April 7.

    The event celebrated not only the craziest, most inspired, and delicious noodle creations and Asian-inspired food fusions, but also the upcoming official grand opening of Esports Arena Oakland. The skills of some of the best chefs and gamers in the Bay Area were on display.

    Chili House SF & Z & Y Restaurant at Noods Noods Noods

    Chili House and Z & Y Restaurant showcased our hand-pulled noodles at the event. The special noodle-coated sauce filled the mouth with waves of taste, beginning with a slightly sweet tang that was followed by a smack of satisfying, spicy hot burn.

    Kung Fu Tea master Xumin Liu, who has been performing at Chili House since January also dazzled the crowds at the event. His Kung Fu Tea performances were a very popular attraction drawing appreciative audiences.

    A Wall of Noodles

    Noods Noods Noods Oakland was presented by Foodbeast and NISSIN, The Original Cup Noodles, the 46-year-old company that helped make instant noodles a mainstream dish. A noodle lover on the way in knew they were in the right place when they were greeted at the entrance by the impressive Tower o’ Cup Noodles display.

    Inside, the outdoor noodle festival had two sections: the Marketplace with visiting food trucks from all over the Bay Area, and the all-you-can-eat (AYCE) section showcasing unique drool-worthy dishes from Bay Area restaurants. There were so many noodly and other types of Asian dishes that no one could come close to sampling everything on offer.

    About Esports

    The idea of founders Paul Ward and Tyler Endres, Esports arenas are designed to fill a niche need for gamers. Traditionally, playing video games has been a solitary pursuit, even when playing online with others. Esports arenas are places where a player can share their gaming passion with like-minded fans.

    At Noods Noods Noods Oakland, players could compete in the Super Smash Bros. Melee and Smash 4 singles tournaments with $5,000 in cash prizes. And of course, when they become hungry, there was no shortage of food.

    What to do Now that Noods Noods Noods Oakland is Over

    Noods Noods Noods Oakland provided the perfect opportunity to try some of the exclusive dishes and premiere food items from the Bay Area’s best restaurants. In a city with no limit on Asian food options, Chili House SF stands out. Chefs Han has earned international acclaim for serving both Sichaun and Beijing cuisine since 1988. Check us out online or call (415) 387-2658 to experience delicious and authentic Chinese dining.

  • 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.

  • Why Chinese Resturants are so Popular During the Holidays

    chinese food at christmas

    Each year, millions of Americans gather at Chinese restaurants on Christmas day. In fact, Christmas and Christmas Eve are the busiest day of the year for most American Chinese restaurants.

    The combination of Christmas and Chinese food is iconic. According to Google Trends , more people search for “Chinese food/restaurant” during the week of Christmas than any other week the year. It isn’t just internet searches either. On December 25, Chinese food orders increase by as much as 152%, according to GrubHub in 2013. This phenomenon is not new.

    Be sure to book early to take advantage of our limited Peking Duck or banquet dining options. Chili House SF experiences some of our busiest days of the year during Christmas and other holidays!

    History of Chinese Food on Christmas Day

    Chinese food became a traditional go-to within non-Christian immigrant communities. The tradition seems to have originated in New York City as far back as the late 1800s. Immigrants from cultures that don’t typically celebrate Christmas found they had time off to spend with family, but no traditions of their own. Chinese restaurants were open on Christmas day and offered an inclusive, welcoming environment. So a century-long love affair was born!

    Chinese cuisine symbolized the urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle in the early 1900s. For many new Americans, enjoying Chinese food was a way to celebrate the great American cultural melting pot.

    Since Chinese restaurants come in a range of prices, it is an affordable treat for budget-conscious families. Many Chinese restaurants offer family-style meals that promote sharing and camaraderie. Some San Franciscans who celebrate Christmas also opt to enjoy a Chinese meal on Christmas Eve or even Christmas day. They prefer the low-stress, relaxing experience.

    Chinese Food as a Holiday Alternative

    Lifehacker lists “eating Chinese food” as one of the top alternative activities for Christmas day. Other classic alternatives include going to the cinema as many new films release on Christmas day. Also, they suggest visiting parks and open spaces or spending time enjoying a favorite hobby. If you are feeling social, you will find plenty of company at a popular Chinese restaurant.

    Other cuisines also see a boost on December 25, according to GrubHub. Muslim halal, Indian, dim sum, kosher, Thai, and Vietnamese food also saw an increase in takeaway or dine-in orders. Though these others have not yet reached the same level of popularity as Chinese food.

    Ten Most Popular Chinese Dishes For December 25

    Just in case you are looking for ideas of what to order, GrubHub told CNN the most popular Chinese dishes on December 25, 2014, were:

    1. General Tso’s chicken
    2. Crab Rangoon
    3. Egg Rolls
    4. Sesame Chicken
    5. Wonton Soup
    6. Fried Rice
    7. Sweet & Sour Chicken
    8. Orange Chicken
    9. Hot and Sour Soup
    10. Pot Stickers

    (List source ” It’s true. Everyone eats Chinese food on Christmas ,” CNN.)

    Enjoy a Worldly, Modern Tradition

    While this tradition originated in immigrant communities in New York City, it soon spread across the nation. It quickly reached San Francisco, due to the thriving Chinese community.

    Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, continue a modern tradition by booking your Christmas Eve, Christmas, or Boxing Day meal at your favorite Chinese Restaurant. Don’t be surprised if your favorite restaurant is fully booked, reserve your table early to avoid disappointment.

  • 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.

  • How to Serve & Eat Peking Duck

    At Chili House SF, we take a huge amount of pride in our Peking Duck. Our duck is always made fresh for patrons and never re-heated or pre-cooked. Our servers carve the duck, crispy and fresh, right out of the oven when it comes to your table. We only serve a maximum of twenty Peking Ducks per day and reservations are required because we insist on maintaining the highest standards in our preparation.

    Patrons from local San Franciscans to visitors from around the world appreciate the care and precision with which our Peking Duck is made. From your seat at one of our tables, here’s how the spread will look when ready to serve:

    At this stage, there are 5 components of the Peking Duck dish ready to assemble:

    • The duck meat
    • Steamed pancakes
    • Sweet bean sauce
    • Spring onions
    • Cucumber

    Here is the proper way to then put together these components for a mouth-watering treat!

    1. Lay one pancake flat on your plate, and spread a small amount of the sweet bean sauce around the top-middle section of the wrap.
    2. Next, place a few pieces of duckon the top-middle section over where the sauce has been spread.
    3. Next, lay a small number of cucumbers and spring onions over the top of the duck meat. The goal is to have the duck be the juicy outer layer of the bite that first hits your mouth, followed by the more crunchy, textured cucumber and onion in the center of the bite.
    4. Fold the bottom half of the pancake over the meat, sauce and vegetables at the middle of the wrap.
    5. Pull the right and then left edges over the middle of the wrap, then flip over the assembled wrap.
    6. Pick up your delicious treat with your chopticks and enjoy!

    Although it surprises many, the way in which you assemble the components of the Peking Duck wrap greatly influence the taste. Experimenting with more or less sauce, and changing the order of the assembly between meat and vegetables has a noticeable affect on the flavors of subsequent bites.

    Finally, be sure to enjoy any leftover pieces of Peking duck meat as part of a delicious soup following the main course!