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!