the house: Standing Out Amidst Strip Joints and Touristy Cafes [CLOSED]

  • Home
  • Asian
  • the house: Standing Out Amidst Strip Joints and Touristy Cafes [CLOSED]
Restaurant San Francisco

The house looks low-key, but has become a local favorite.

This meal took two years to pull off. My dad and step-mom had eaten at the house twice and raved after both meals. Unfortunately, on ensuing trips to San Francisco, either the timing wasn’t right or the people I was traveling with had other notions. All along, my hunger for the house grew. I even made reservations to eat there with my parents before I flew back to Los Angeles, but they decided a late lunch plus an early reservation equaled postponement. Since I had a flight to catch, not only did I miss out again, but they got to eat there a third time, their best meal yet. That hurt.

This time, there was no stopping me. I woke up at 6 AM to drive there from L.A. with my girlfriend. We hit zero traffic on the freeway and even landed a parking spot in front of the restaurant. We entered the house with empty stomachs and a stack of expectations.

This sunny little neighborhood Asian café sits just a block north of Broadway’s row of low-end strip joints and touristy Italian cafes.

Restaurant San Francisco

Thanks to sleek wooden design touches and framed black-and-white photos of food on the walls, the house seems a world apart from its dingy neighbors.

Larry Tse and wife Angela opened the house in 1992. Larry, the Executive Chef, emigrated to San Francisco at age five from Hong Kong and learned to cook by working in Chinatown. His parents also had a restaurant. Angela serves as Manager and assumed dessert duties in 1997, when their Pastry Chef left. The Tses opened a second location in the Sunset District in 1996, and it went out of business, but the North Beach original is still thriving.

Every meal begins with a tasty dish of sweet cucumber strips topped with sesame seeds.

Dumplings San Francisco

To start, white shrimp and Chinese chive dumplings (6 for $8.50) were a solid rendition of har gow, plated with colorful pickled beet sheets.

Asian Food San Francisco

The deep-fried salmon roll with Chinese hot mustard ($7.50) came topped with black caviar, served on a julienned carrot and red pepper bed. Thin wrappers featured layers of nori topped and crisp pastry, filled with velvety salmon. Hot mustard dipping sauce was fiery but worth the pain.

Asian Food San Francisco

The dish my dad and step-mom always raved about was wasabi noodles topped with flatiron steak. At lunch, the house offers the springy noodles with pork tenderloin ($8), which suited my swine-loving sensibilities even better. The fabulous plate came with Asian slaw and sweet matchstick cucumbers. The pork was so tender, and very lean, with huge flavor, flavored with but not overpowered by the spice of the wasabi.

Steak San Francisco

My girlfriend and I were still able to score flatiron steak, just not in the form we expected. Angus flatiron steak with roasted shiitake mushroom sauce ($14) arrived atop spinach and mashed potatoes, with spinach oil ringing the plate. There were also soy beans and cherry tomatoes to complete the dish. The meat was fork tender and tasted sensational dipped in mushroom sauce and spinach oil.

We had all meal to admire Angela Tse’s warm apple crumbles, since they sat right behind our table on a counter by the register. They looked great, but we went for the special of the day, persimmon pudding with caramel sauce ($8). I’m glad we did. The ‘pudding” was cut into a pie-like slice, rich brown, syrupy soft, streaked with lines of vanilla and caramel sauces, just amazing.

To drink, I went for a refreshing glass of lychee black iced tea, which came with a pitted sweet lychee bobbing on top.

Based on my parents’ raves, I had high expectations, but the house was even better than I expected. The quality of the ingredients was so high, the preparation and plating sophisticated, and the price point so cheap given the quality. I was really impressed. I have no doubt I’ll return to the house, a restaurant with lower case lettering and upper case food.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Leave a Comment