I’m not sure if it’s the Asian heritage in me, or the fact that I was raised in the suburbs, but my love for Chinese food runs deep. Ever since I was little, I pined for BBQ pork fried rice and chow mein. Growing up, we had two fabulous Chinese food restaurants near my house, one of which has extreme local fame and has been visited by presidents, cooking dignitaries, and hall of fame athletes (shout out to Chef Chu’s!). In short, I was a bit spoiled in my Chinese food upbringing. My family would habitually order from one of the two often for any occasion, including Christmas. The standard menu items have always been very comforting for me and always special when I had been away from the cuisine for an extended trip. From fried rice, chow mein and egg rolls, to pot stickers, Mongolian beef, and chicken salad, there was never a wrong choice. But, my two staples have always been BBQ fried rice and pot stickers.
Living in San Francisco has certainly been a treat with all the easily available Asian food options. I have been sampling different local Chinese places for my entire time here in the city and had been pretty set on my local delivery place who does a great chow mein and specialty beef dish. That was until I found U-Lee. Located on Hyde @ Jackson, this tiny little restaurant packs some serious punch. Now let’s get something clear first – I am not writing about higher end Chinese food. I am not writing about the fusion of cultures one would find at the cultly popular Burma Superstar. I am talking strictly about simple, cheap, and what is also known in some circles as ‘dirtyChinese’ food. But don’t get me wrong, there is nothing dirty about U-Lee and their menu offerings. This 20 seat (and that’s a stretch) restaurant makes some of the most delicious Chinese food I have had in this diverse city… and its cheap!
The one thing that they are known for is their pot stickers. The taste isn’t any different than what you’ve had before, however they are definitely hand made and definitely fresh, not frozen, every day. What is special about these dumplings is that they are about as big as your closed fist. They are f****** huge. Note, the picture featured here does not do the size justice. They come in an order of 6, and I challenge the solo eater to eat more than 3 without feeling grossly overstuffed. The pot stickers are delightfully crispy on one side and deliciously savory on the inside. They are alone worth the trip.
Due to the fact that I was dining alone on this occasion, I only ordered pot stickers and fried rice. I felt like I put a dent into both, even though I only powered through two dumplings. The fried rice at U-Lee is, at this juncture, my favorite fried rice in SF. Bold statement, but it is delicious. The rice has great flavor and is not too greasy. The proportions of egg, pork, and veggies are perfect. I usually put some soy sauce on my fried rice, but this is so good it doesn’t need any other aid. To say the least, it was fantastic. The only down side of this restaurant is that the do not deliver. However, it makes it a little more special when you decide to dine in or carry out their offerings.
On your next rainy day, when you want that comfort of steamy, savory Chinese food, go check out U-Lee. You won’t be disappointed.
1468 Hyde StreetSan Francisco, CA 94109 – (415) 771-9774