Monday, August 3, 2009

The Price of Food in San Francisco: An Introduction

As this blog starts to span more cities, countries and continents, I figure it is only fair to start my first post as an introduction to the price of Hong Kong food in San Francisco. I am no San Francisco native having only lived here for two months, but I do know that international cuisines are accessible and somewhat affordable. The average San Franciscan palate is eclectic, adventurous and quite often very picky for high standards of freshness and authenticity. I am no judge, I have no law degree, however I did live in Hong Kong once so I am on a mission to seek out some tasty HK style treats.

I came home last week after a very long day at work and decided to call in for an order of HK style Chinese take out from a joint near my home called Golden River. I chose the ever so unadventurous meal of chicken wing, kai lan, and plain white fahn. I love Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and I hadn't had at a restaurant for a while. At home, I can barely achieve the perfect crispiness to tenderness ratio that Chinese restaurants maintain. This kai lan was stellar, and I ate almost all of it in one go.

The chicken wings on the other hand were about a 7 out of 10. I somehow missed that they were going to be fried. I really prefer mine as steamed or broiled or however Chinese restaurants magically cook chicken wings in soy sauce. The catch is that I thought I had ordered the 6 piece chicken wing, detailed in the shot of the menu, however I got many more than 6. I think the photo looks like there are 9, ok hey sure 9 is 6 upside down! Perhaps I received extra because when I placed my take out order over the phone, I asked for "kai lan" and "gai ying" and the man on the phone wanted to reward me for my extra effort for trying to order food in Cantonese. Just kidding. The time of night was late, they probably just wanted to get rid of whatever food they had and call it a night.

I thought the overall price of the meal was too high. Rice + chicken + kai lan for 16 USD is way too much (~125 HKD). The order did last me for two meals and an additional light snack, so perhaps if I look at it that way, it was worth it.

I will, however, definitely go back to Golden River. They have a good selection of food that I recognize as the typical fair I ate back in HK. I miss it there, and a lot of the heartache stems from a lack of a consistent supply of cheap shui gao, wan ton min, and ngau lam.

In the meantime I will continue to seek out HK style food and lots of other cuisines in SF and report on its price.


  1. Hey Sarah, I liked your inaugural report on Honky food in America. It's pretty amazing that you have both Chinese broccoli and Cantonese speakers available in San Franscisco, as I thought that wouldn't be the case. The real American pricing, however, didn't surprise me at all!

    We have that same, 100% markup phenomenon in Hong Kong with Korean food. I miss the cheap stuff!

  2. Paul and I went to SF for Spring Break and we ate at a fabulous dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. Unfortunately, I don't remember what it was called or where it was exactly, but it makes me think that your next post should be about a food adventure in Chinatown. I was surprised to hear more Cantonese than Mandarin being spoken there, so there should probably be quite a bit of HK style food to discover.