I love dim sum and I am always on the look out for a good pork bun or pot sticker. Every time I order Chinese, I get pot stickers. My first dish during my visit to Japan, gyoza. I visit my local shop in Palo Alto religiously (Cho’s!). Recently, I’ve found my new spot in San Francisco. Keith came to town from Healdsburg and was set on getting something Asian for lunch. We were on our way to this Vietnamese sandwich shop in the Tenderloin, when Keith suddenly proclaimed “I could do some Pork buns too…” Keith had lived in SF for years and has uncanny knowledge of hole-in-the-wall eateries. He had been boasting for years about the pork buns at his spot “deep into Chinatown.” I jumped at the opportunity to have him show me ‘his spot’ for dim sum.
After a tenuous bus ride on the 1, we arrived in the heart of Chinatown (Stockton & Clay). It was a rare departure from the bus at this stop, usually I’m continuing on to the Financial district. Keith hopped off and headed straight for an alley, adjacent to the bus stop. On our quick walk, we passed the underground mahjong halls, where old Chinese folk were gambling away. Stares from inside the halls in our direction were fiercely territorial, translating into something along the lines of “you better know where you’re going, white boy.” Slightly intimidating but very exciting because I knew this place had to be good. We arrived quickly at our destination, Hang Ah Tea Room.
With the dining room slightly populated, we took our seats. I let Keith drive the order. Patiently waiting, we salivated as we saw plates of pork buns, crispy shrimp balls, and some other unidentified dishes float around the room. And then our dishes came.
First was the crispy shrimp balls. Amazingly flavorful, not rubbery ground shrimp crusted with perfectly crispy rice wraps. Sauced with sweet & sour, soy & the house made spicy bean paste, these balls of shrimp were outstanding.
Then came the pork buns. Beautiful white fluffy pillows filled with savory & sweet bbq’d pork. Some of the best I’d ever had. Then the pot stickers. Perfectly crispy and savory. Love in every bite. Accompanied with the egg rolls, this was heaven. We mopped up every last bit of everything that was on our table, and almost ordered more.
This place is extremely legit, and I will be returning on a very regular basis. Oh, and its cheap. $2.10 for pork buns, and $2.75 for pot stickers. Don’t spread the word, I’d like to keep prices down! So, be greedy, be secretive, and don’t bring your co-workers to lunch. Let them go to the big name places…