I am super fired up to introduce this new series of occasional reviews that I am going to be calling "Eating Out With Eddie," who is kindly sharing some of his Asian restaurant discoveries from around town with me (Eddie is Eddie Lau, a former cook at Orson, who is currently taking a break from kitchen life).
My sis and I are both slaves to dim sum, like, total har gow hookers, so Eddie took us to his favorite Cantonese dim sum place in the Outer Sunset, ~S&T HONG KONG SEAFOOD RESTAURANT~. Eddie has done extensive dim sum tasting and "research" around town (that's what I call my job), and after one visit, S&T is now my reigning champ of dim sum in San Francisco as well. I say it's even better than Ton Kiang and Yank Sing--gasp! And a hell of a lot cheaper, let me tell you. Oh, except I didn't get to try S&T's xiao long bao/Shanghai soup dumplings--and Yank Sing's are quite irresistible (well, until I get the chance to go to Shanghai).
And check this out: the three of us, each blessed with a constitution built for indulging and sporting mighty hearty appetites (think linebacker), completely scarfed for $20 a head. Unheard of. Crap economy be damned--at S&T, you will feast!
The place was pretty bumping on a Sunday, but since there were only three of us, we managed to get seated within ten minutes. Nope, no Hong Kong Flower Lounge wait here that makes you want to stick one chopstick in your eye and the other in the hostess's. Oh, and our magic number of three people worked out really well for sharing almost all of the dishes.
As for the décor, there were some tanks of live fish, two packed rooms of feasting families, and overall it was a tidy place where you could bring a dim sum virgin or your picky aunt without them getting fussy or freaky.
There are no carts, just an order sheet. It was quickly apparent Eddie was totally the keymaster to cracking the code of some items on the dim sum menu--there were at least 20 without a translation. What can I say, you'll either need to bring a Cantonese speaker/Chinese character reader with you. Or maybe you can hire Eddie to be your dim sum escort. Or maybe you can pray your server will understand what the hell you're asking for. Maybe try crying? Bring an Etch-a-Sketch? Scribble down images on a scratchpad like Holly Hunter in The Piano? Make it happen.
First off, anything with shrimp was just delicious. And if you don't like shrimp, this place is going to be challenging--or at least you're going to be missing out on some shrimpy bliss. The har gow ($2.90) were so sweet and plump, with a delicate wrapper, and the pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings ($3.90) were savory and had good texture. Hey, nice buns.
But the hands-down champ was the shrimp noodle roll ($3.90), a delicate rice-based noodle that was almost like a crepe, snipped at the table, and enclosing the sweetest shrimp inside. Seriously swoon-able, and lucky you, it's translated on the menu. I am salivating just thinking of this dish--the smooth texture of the noodle was downright sexy. Meow. Next time, I'm trying the BBQ pork noodle roll, the bitter melon chicken noodle roll, and three more shrimp noodle rolls. What can I say, I'm a girl who knows what she wants.
A few standards that surpassed executions I've had elsewhere were the shiitake siu mai ($2.30), not greasy at all, and ditto on the stuffed crab claw ($5.00) that tasted freshly made, and wasn't too mushy in the middle, or too fried on its exterior. Oh wow, the sticky rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf ($3.90) was also an exquisite dish--hearty and fulfilling.
I'd never tried the execution of a deep-fried taro dumpling ($2.90) like the one here--it came with a savory filling of dried shrimp, green onion (as Eddie likes to call them, grunions), and a lovely lacy exterior. There was also a unique dish of deep-fried tofu skin (yuba) with shrimp inside (yay!) ($3.90) that rocked. Loved the play of the crispy texture against the tender shrimp tucked within.
Some off-the-menu items were the delicate fried tofu (very mild), a meatball thing that I adored, and a couple other dumplings that I only have pictures of. Sorry, I am fired. I was so excited to be eating delicious dim sum that wasn't going to bankrupt me that I wasn't very diligent in my notes. Oink oink!
There were some traditional dishes I'd like to come back for--the table next to us was digging into some pig's blood, not sure I'm quite ready for that one, but I will take on the chicken feet! In fact, I'm curious how dinner is here as well. Anyway, be sure to finish with a creamy egg custard tart ($3.90), noted "Portugal Style." Lovely pastry, filled with decadent eggy custardy goodness.
If you want to get some dim sum to go, there is a small walk-up spot next door where you can order to your heart's content and schlep home bags of dim sum bounty. All I can say is if my significant other turned up with a pile o' dim sum from S&T, I'd totally be inspired to play keymaster and gatekeeper all day. Zool! Actually, just cool.
S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant
2578 Noriega St.
Cross: 33rd Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
Dim sum $1.90-$5
This is always fun for me: a rock star tablehopper reader wrote in some very useful insider info in relation to this review. For those of you who were salivating over the dim sum descriptions and wishing you had your very own Eddie to take you there and translate the menu, well, check this out! A regular who been going since it opened about 20 years ago (and said, "They are at the top of their game right now, I think, both for dim sum and dinner.") had this to share: "If you ask at the front desk, they'll give you a supplementary checklist with the English translations of the un-translated part of the regular dim sum checklist. The Salt and Pepper Tofu that you mentioned is on that list along with one of my favorites, braised stuffed tofu skins--they are stuffed with pork and are absolutely delicious. Also on that list are shrimp-stuffed eggplant and shrimp-stuffed green peppers and some bargain items, many of which are really quite good."