See that large group of people hovering outside that restaurant? Yeah, that's exactly where you're headed: ~SAN TUNG~, AKA where chicken wing lovers go to eat. And being the Sunset, you'll be able to enjoy a nice wind tunnel while waiting outside. Brrrr, fabulous. Don't even think about coming here on the weekend--unless you feel like battling a sea of families and rowdy packs of young ones out on the town and fired up on Tsingtaos. Go midweek in the late afternoon if you can.
If you are driving, work as a team, yo: drop someone off to scribble a name on the whiteboard while the poor driver circles around for parking (it can be a beeyotch out there, bring your parking Buddha and all the "car-ma" you can muster). Stick near the door so you hear your name. In fact, keep an eye on the dry-erase board if you can--the order can get "complicated" really quickly (foul play? hmmmâ¦).
Finally, something like 45 minutes later, you get seated. I know, you're like, this better be worth it. Have a bite of the complimentary kimchee (this place is a Korean-Chinese hybrid) and at last, it's time to order up. Sure, what's not to like about shrimp and leek dumplings ($7.25), or fried potstickers ($6.50)? Neither are the most stellar examples of their category, but they're an okay way to get the ball rolling--they still manage to scratch that dumpling itch.
Let's get to it. The real reason you're here is the original dry fried chicken wings ($9). You can get diced chicken, or wet, but for your first time out, dry wings is the correct answer on this multiple-choice exam--you can do diced next time (unless you're in a larger group and are there to feast, order up!). The wings are deep fried in crack, and then glazed in a sticky-sweet sauce that's garlicky, gingery, a touch constarchy, and cracky. I can't even imagine how many wings the kitchen blazes through a night. It's mind-boggling. KFC has nothing on this joint.
A close second on the consumption chart are the dry sautéed string beans ($7.50), flash fried and tossed in a garlicky sauce with some awesome Chinese pickles (try it, you might like it). You'll see this dish on every table.
The menu is extensive, and you can try things like a refreshing and springy starter of jellyfish with cucumber ($9), or perhaps some sizzling rice soup (we warmed up instead with the pork with mustard greens and homemade noodles, $8). Because you can order homemade noodles, if you are into chow mein, this is the place to do it.
Everyone has his or her favorites here (Dry fried beef! Hot and sour soup! Five spice beef noodles! Peanut noodles! Black bean sauce noodles!). Truth be told, nothing really dazzles me on the menu once I sink my teeth in the wings. It's like GAME OVER for everything else. Thank you for playing.
I know, why am I feeding the hype? It only raises the expectations of these wings even more. But whatever, it's an SF culinary rite of passage, like a Gibraltar from Blue Bottle, or a carne asada super burrito from Cancun.
The staff here is usually quite polite, especially when you consider the chaos ("Things fall apart, the center cannot hold"). It's pretty clean. A group of four can eat plentifully and drink a few beers for $20 each. And if you live in the neighborhood, aren't you lucky, you can order take-out. Doh! Did you forget it's closed on Wednesday? Don't fret, you can go next door to Yummy Yummy for din din.
1031 Irving St.
Cross: 12th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122