Panda Country Kitchen

Just wrote this review on Yelp! 🙂 Keeping a record here:

五粮液酒家
Panda Country Kitchen
4737 Geary Street (at 11th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA94118
(415) 2210-4278

We have been going to this place at least once every week since Nov. 2006, sometimes 2-3 times a week, and we’ve never been disappointed, by either the food or the wait-staff.

My husband is a big fan of szechuan food. Ever since he left New York for SF, we’ve been hunting up and down the peninsula for an authentic Szechuan restaurant. For a few years, we settled on Spices (辣妹子) on 6th Ave. and Clement.

Then we found Panda Country Kitchen! There is no turning back. After we’ve tasted the more authentic version of Szechuan dishes at Panda Country Kitchen, we couldn’t endure Spices’ super grease any more. At the end of May we were surprised at seeing the restaurant putting up a “closed for one week annual vacation” sign. We went back a couple times to check on it in the following weeks, it stayed closed. Oh No! We lost our favorite restaurant in the city!

Today we drove by on our way to a different restaurant, and discovered it was back! 🙂 Too happy, we promptly changed our plan and had our usual feast at Panda Country Kitchen. Yumm!

Panda Country Kitchen’s chef originally worked at the New York szechuan restaurant 五粮液 (it borrows the name from a famous Chinese hard liquor), which is popular among New York Chinese.

You could see the difference in the dish’s look, it is professionally made Szechuan style, not the imitator-style at Spices. One obvious visual cue is the lack of the sea of red spicy oil that drenched every dish (for certain dish, such as spicy boiled tender fish, yes, the fish fillet is usually served in a sea of red spicy oil. But often in other Chinese restaurants claims to serve szechuan food, all their dish tend to rely on the spicy oil for flavor, resulted in over-greasiness that are neither authentic nor necessary). At Panda Country Kitchen, the dish tasted just right, with plenty szechuan peppercorn’s numbing and the varied pepper style spiciness.

Our favorite dishes include:

– Dry Sauteed Shredded Beef (干煸牛肉丝)
This is our favorite dish here. The beef were full of flavor and it was slightly dried on the outside which gave it a very nice chewy texture, and it was still tender inside. Plus the fresh pepper and veggie that accompanied the beef added extra layer of taste to the dish. What a treat!

– Frog Leg with Fresh Home Made Pepper (剁椒田鸡)
Enough said, “Home Made Pepper” is a special kind of fresh pepper that are diced in this dish. Try it if you like Frog Legs. and you won’t regret it.

Sizzling Rice Tender Pork (锅巴肉片)
This is one non-spicy dish we order from time to time. The sizzling rice added more texture to the dish, and the Pork and the Sauce are very tasty.

Sauteed String Beans Szechwan county Style (绍子豇豆)
This is another non-spicy dish. It is made with diced string beans(previously sauteed) and ground pork. Little Szechuan down in San Mateo had a similar dish, but we think this one is better.

Spicy Noodle Cooked with Ground Pork (担担面)
VERY Spicy. The most authentic Dan Dan Mian we’ve had outside of China. yum yum yum!

Live Fish Cooked in Szechwan Bean Sauce (豆瓣全鱼)
Okay, you can skip this dish if you don’t like to see a fish head on a dish.
Otherwise, this is a lovely dish. The sauce explodes in your mouth with all sorts of spiciness, and the fish is oh so tender. drool…

My favorite desert dish here is:
Yum Pancake (金沙苕饼)
it is a sticky-rice-like cake, except it is made with yum flour, red bean filling, and the little cake is fried to golden brown. Delicious!

Sunday Afternoon with Maugham

The prettiest time in our apartment. The sun is drawing bright squares on the floor. Breeze is amusing our seashell wind chime on the balcony. tibetan flags dance above the blooming geranium . Mi is slow cooking some delicious stew dish. The sunny space is filled with that lovely aroma of cooked meat and the sweetness of soy sauce. I’m finishing up a glass of slightly chilled Gamay Rouge. Two cats are sleeping on the two sides of me. Occasionally we hear kids laughter from the gardens downstairs.

I’m reading a thin volumn of short story collection by Maugham, which i got from Green Apples two weekends ago.

Delightful writing. Reminded me of Greene, but not so serious. A humorous and curious creature. And such lucid writing.

Needs to get the full collection of his short stories. English language seems to take on a new life when written by him.

Ashenden, leaving them to their emotions, strolled through the garden and sat down on a bench that had been prepared for the comfort of the tourist. The view was of course spectacular, but it captured you; it was like a piece of music that was obvious and meretricious, but for the moment shattered your self-control.”

What’s even more fascinating to me is how class-conscious the British society is. And Maugham’s eyes missed nothing, and his pen, merciless.

It amused Ashenden to see R., so sharp, sure of himself and alert in his office, seized as he walked into the restaurant with shyness. He talked a little too loud in order to show that he was at his eas and made himself somewhat unnecessrily at home. You saw in his manner the shabby and commonplace life he had led till the hazards of war raised him to a position of consequence. He was glad to be in that fashionable restaurant cheek by jowl with persons who bore great or distinguished names, but he felt like a schoolboy in his first top-hat, and he quailed before the steely eye of the maître d’hôtel. His quick glance darted here and there and his sallow face beamed with a self-satisfaction of which he was slightly ashamed.

Green Apple Seed and Park Life

ATTENTION! Used Book Lovers!

The famed Green Apple Bookstore is doing something new. They opened another storefront on Clement @4th Ave., where they sell tones of books at 50-75% off the already marked down prices. Some are marked as low as $2 a piece. The slogan is “Warehouse Clearance”. They are closing down their warehouse, so they are selling everything that were used to be stored in the warehouse, i guess.

248 Clement Street @ 4th Ave. (the old Busvan building)
10am-10pm every day
www.greenappleseed.com
415.387.2157

While we were there, we stumbled upon a very cool store two doors down. It is a gadget/design/gallery store called “Park Life”. Calling it a store seems to be an oversimplification. It is a space where usually a store will be, but it seems to encompass more than the normal concept of a store. It features interesting objects, gadgets, books, t-shirts, art… ranged from salk pepper shaker, to alarm clock that runs away to hide (so to get you out of bed), to one of a kind t-shirt, and even original art displayed in the back of the store.



And it is a store with a blog: parklifestore.com

Michael Ondaatje’s “Divisadero”

Michael Ondaatje has a new novel out! Just read the review from current issue of The New YorkerThe Aesthete, by Louis Menand. The name is “Divisadero” and it seems that a large portion of the stories are set in Northern California! 🙂 I have to go and find a copy.

“We have art so that we shall not be destroyed by the truth. – Nietzsche”

to be cont’d…