Sunday, December 15, 2013

Do You Know How Hard...

it is to find really good Chinese food? Especially when much of your time is spent away from major cities. Even my favorite food city—Lafayette, LA—has a serious vacuum when it comes to Chinese cuisine. So, when Chuck’s cousin Barbara offered to drive us back to San Francisco for an experience to be covered a couple of days from now, we asked if a visit to Hunan Home’s could be added to the day’s activities.
“One of Chinatown's best restaurants, Hunan Home's is a feast for the eyes—ubiquitous pink-and-white walls lined with big wall-to-wall mirrors that reflect armies of fish tanks and tacky chandeliers—as well as the palate. The rule of thumb here is not to put anything in your mouth until you're armed with a glass of water, because most every dish is ooooweeeee hot! ...(P)hotographs of the more popular dishes are posted out front, though it's hard to tell which ones will singe your nose hairs” (
“Hunan cooking first entered mainstream American consciousness almost 50 years ago, when a generation of master chefs who'd left China after the revolution emigrated to the United States. In New York, according to restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld, the first Hunan and Sichuan restaurants began appearing in the mid-1960s. A few were awarded four stars in the New York Times, and their popularity exploded. The rise of General Tso's chicken, named after a famous Hunanese hero, began.

"’The Hunan craze in SF hit in 1976,’ says Full Noodle Frontity's Gary Soup, ‘with Tony Hiss' rave review in The New Yorker of the original Hunan Restaurant on Kearny Street.’ Hunan Home's, like Henry's Hunan and dozens of other Bay Area restaurants, dates back to that period, and spicy regional Chinese dishes soon became absorbed into Chinese American cuisine…”
(Jonathan Kauffman at
Hunan Home's “is owned and operated by the Yuan family, who is originally from Taiwan and has been in the restaurant business for decades (and) has won numerous awards for its exceptional food and service including the Golden Award for the ‘Best Bay Area Chinese Restaurant’ in the Chinese World Journal” (
This is not our first visit to Hunan Home’s, and we have a set of menu items that are musts. Among these are the hot and sour soup and the pot stickers as our meal starters. Well, this time we omitted the soup and substituted the Wonton in Hot Sauce—wontons stuffed with pork and then boiled and served in a bowl with a spicy sauce.
This was a dish to “singe your nose hairs.” Very spicy but also addictive. I could probably make a meal of two or more orders of these—as long as I have plenty of water available.

But we did add the pot stickers. Hunan Home’s are among the best anywhere—thin and tender wrappers encasing a pork filling and fried until the bottom becomes crusty.
Since I am into texture, this contrast between the soft wrappers and equally soft filling and the crusty dumpling bottoms is especially pleasing.

Then we moved on to our four entrées (Yes, four entrées for the three of us.). The Tai Chin Chicken with diced chicken sautéed with black mushrooms and bamboo shoots in a hot and spicy sauce was the one item that didn’t work for me.
I think it was—to me at least—the strong acidic presence from what I am assuming was Chinese vinegar.

The second entrée was the String Bean A La Hunan—dry stir-fried beans with garlic and minced pork.
My first experience with a Chinese string bean dish was at Henry Chung’s Hunan Restaurant mentioned above by Jonathan Kauffman at That version was in a hot black bean sauce and may have been the spiciest dish I have ever eaten. But when we left my mouth was happy—although aflame.

We have ordered these at all of our trips to Hunan Home’s, and this was the best yet. The beans had the requisite “puckered” look from the dry frying, but were still crisp-tender. And coating the beans was a spicy sauce that contained little bits of almost dry pork that developed a deeply intense flavor.

Our third choice was the Hunan Spiced Garlic Beef with baby corn, celery, snow peas, and mushrooms.
And finally came the Prawns with Honey Walnuts. My first experience with this dish was at our initial visit to Hunan Home’s, and I have eaten them at a few other Chinese restaurants over the years—most recently at Happy Garden in Paradise, CA. No one makes them better than Hunan Home’s.
I know that the preparation is probably more complicated that I would want to try at home, but the lure of the crunchy walnuts led me to a web search for the recipe. And to my surprise, I learned that the sauce on this dish contains mayo and evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. Did the Chinese invent mayo? But I learned from Jacqueline Pham at that this is a “classic in Americanized Chinese cuisine.” Ms. Pham went on to say “I only make this dish when we have guests at home, because I find it too rich for regular consumption. It's definitely one of my favorites though!”

It being “too rich” is one description with which Chuck and I would concur. It was a couple of days after our Hunan Home’s visit and before I found Ms. Pham’s blog that we discussed how the prawn dish was perfect when you had a table of people and could share. A whole plate of these—no matter how delicious and how well prepared—would be more than one person could eat.

I started by saying that good Chinese food is hard to find. So after our 5.0 Addie early dinner, we are off for another Chinatown stop.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.


eyad ammar said...

شركة تنظيف بالطائف شركة الهدي افضل شركة نقل عفش بالطائف كذلك هى افضل شركة رش مبيدات بالطائف
شركه الهدى
شركة رش بالطائف
خدمات الطائف
شركة تنظيف بالطائف
شركة تنظيف فلل بالطائف
نظافه عامه بالطائف
شركة تنظيف منازل بالطائف

eyad ammar said...

شركة تنظيف شقق بالطائف
نقل عفش بالطائف
بالطائف شفط بيارات
تسليك مجارى بالطائف
تنظيف خزنات بالطائف
رش مبيدات بالطائف
نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة عزل اسطح بالطائف

eyad ammar said...

ان اردت نقل عفش منزلك بالدمام ابيات الشرقية من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والقطيف والاحساء
شركة المتحدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بابها

eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك