Namadako sunomono: seaweed, cucumber, and octopus (complete with torch-seared suckers!) in a yuzu kosho dressing at Sebo.
How wrong: I was supposed to be spending the weekend inner-tubing on Cache Creek and camping, but the rainy forecast sadly made me change my plans. I’ve had a rough week, and reenacting a campsite at the Glastonbury Festival (without the music) wasn’t really in my cards. At all. Plan B now involves sleeping indoors, thankyouverymuch.
Since we’re queued up for a weekend of crap weather, I thought it would be a good time to highlight a few of my favorite off-the-radar delivery options, especially since Mission Chinese Food is closed for most of the month, so no dice there. In case you feel like staying in, watching a movie, and not trying to concoct a mystery dish out of your barren fridge, I’ve got you covered.
Keep dry, well-fed (don’t forget there’s the COCHON 555 event on Sunday—and it’s indoors!), and if you’re in the mood for getting tipsy, there’s the new Churchill to check out, and starting today, both Mijita locations are offering $5 margaritas all day long on Fridays (except on game days at the ballpark location) throughout the summer. Or should I say “summer.”
Review is for delivery only.
Sometimes you just need to change it up from the usual Thai-pizza-Indian delivery, right? Enter HELMAND PALACE. This Afghan outpost has been making legions of diners happy with its well-prepared and flavorful dishes (and lunchtime buffet, RIP!) since 1989, first on Broadway, and then a landslide forced their move to a random stretch of Van Ness Avenue. But it’s worth seeking out, offering one of the better deals in town, with hearty portions and white tablecloths (nice touch). I also recommend it as a place that’s good for mixed parties of vegetarians and meat eaters—there’s plenty to keep everyone happy.
Regulars go crazy for the kaddo ($5.95), an appetizer of pan-fried and baked pumpkin, topped with a ground beef sauce and yogurt-garlic sauce. Since the pumpkin is additionally seasoned with sugar, I have always found it too sweet, but some folks sell their firstborn for it. Dessert for dinner! I prefer the mantwo ($6.95), tender beef and onion-stuffed dumplings in a soupy combination of yellow split peas, carrots, beef sauce, and yogurt. (You’ll scoop it all up with the bread that comes with an order of an entrée.)
As for entrées, they range from a variety of kebabs and kofta ($12.95-$13.95) to pricier lamb and beef dishes, maxing out at $22.95. The entrées come with a delicious housemade flatbread and a trio of side sauces (sweet chile, cilantro, and yogurt), plus rice and various side dishes. Yup, a good deal all the way around.
Delivery starts at 6pm, and they like you to order a minimum of $20. It’s food that travels well, and is homey and fulfilling on a chilly San Francisco night when you wish you had someone cooking for you.
Helmand Palace - 2424 Van Ness Ave. - 415-345-0072
Review is for delivery only.
It surprises me that more Vietnamese places around town don’t deliver (come on Larkin Street, get it together). And I am especially surprised that one of the very few Vietnamese places that does deliver is on Valencia Street: THANH TAM II. (Don’t ask me where number one is.)
I have picked my way through the menu here—eating a number of lackluster dishes—but the one that consistently gets my vote is #53, the grilled chicken and egg roll noodle ($7.95). It’s your classic bun cha dish, with vermicelli noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, and peanuts, topped with grilled chicken and a sliced-up imperial roll. It’s huge, satisfying, and the one dish I keep returning to. It’s the only dish I keep returning to.
And on the rare hot San Francisco night, this is exactly the food I crave, along with goi cuon (cold shrimp and pork roll, $6.50) and maybe a beef salad (goi bo, $8.95). You’ll need to order up, because delivery requires a $20 minimum, and it’s cash only. But if you could just get away with ordering two #53s between you and your dining partner, and maybe a couple selections off the beverage list, that’s the way to go. One bonus thing to note: they just started offering banh mi for $5. Delivery starts at 5pm.
Thanh Tam II - 577 Valencia St. - 415-252-1190
Review is for delivery only.
Is there anything better than dim sum for dinner? Sure, it’s a little wrong, but sometimes, it’s just what you need. I usually have my steamer at the ready so once my delivery shows up, I can give any dumplings a quick reheat. (Highly recommended—lukewarm dim sum sucks.) Although a few times the dumplings have arrived pretty warm (they’re coming all the way from the Marina, so I don’t expect miracles.)
So, COUNTRY SKY CHINESE: no, it’s not mind-blowing dim sum, but it’s definitely good. And holla! We’re talking dim sum TO YOUR DOOR. The best deal is your choice of three pieces for $11.95. I always get the shrimp and cilantro dumpling—sometimes twice, it’s that good. The baked BBQ pork bun is another winner, and reheats well the next day. Chicken bun, check. And of course there’s shumai (chicken or pork). Almost everything is $4.50 each.
My other fave on the menu is their Hunan wor wonton soup ($4.25/$7.95). It comes piping hot (and is MSG free!), loaded with beef, roasted pork, mushrooms, plump won tons, carrots, bok choy, and shrimp, and it’s spicy. I’m a fan.
Delivery minimum is $15, so do the dim sum and a large soup and you have dinner for two, plus some leftover soup for lunch the next day. Nice people on the phone—always pleasant—and delivery usually takes the amount of time they quote (often 45 minutes).
Country Sky Chinese - 3321 Steiner St. - 415-567-2888