San Francisco's FANG Restaurant for Modern Chinese Food with a Flare

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The truth is, I don’t eat Chinese food as much as I did a decade ago, and even then, it was mostly at my desk when I’d be working late. In other words, I rarely ventured to Chinese restaurants and it’s not because I don’t love Chinese food. California has so many Asian-fusion restaurants that there are a lot of hybrid eateries now which include Chinese food as part of their offering and I’ve often landed at places in the hybrid category or my go-to sushi joint.

When we learned about FANG Restaurant in San Francisco, which is a modern Chinese restaurant with a flare, we were excited to try them out.  They call a large modern building with tons of clean sharp designs home in San Francisco’s SOMA District ! They encourage you to order “family style”, which is hard since there are so many yummy dishes to choose from or more commonly, they suggest that you simply trust them and they’ll bring out dishes the chef thinks you should try.

Aside from the food at FANG being unique, the FANG experience is known for being unique. Kathy Fang, chef and co-owner of the restaurant personally greets guests, a tradition she carried over from her father Peter Fang who has been at the forefront of Chinese cuisine in San Francisco since opening their first restaurant, House of Nanking on San Francisco’s Kearny Street in 1988. I love family own restaurants, particularly when the tradition stays alive for so long. With tradition comes a boat load of pride, which is something I felt when I met Kathy earlier this month. In addition to being a chef, she is also the author of the popular food blog MyFangalicious.com.  Among other things, I learned from Kathy that her kitchen is all women!

Above, Kathy Fang, chef and co-owner of FANG Restaurant

Now for the fun part — our tasting menu! We started with an interesting cold plate of Pickled Chayote Squash which they toss with Thai Basil and white pepper. The best way to describe the dish is clean and crisp — it doesn’t have the traditional pickled taste you’d expect, but moreso a crispy salad with vegetables, sesame seeds and chayote.

The Spare Ribs with Honey Glaze Sauce, chili oil and cilantro was to die-for — just sweet enough to melt the tongue.

Onto something a little lighter — Pea Shoots with Edamame and Garlic. It was light but had a little kick to it, which made it a great compliment to the Spare Ribs and the heavier dish which was to follow (bring on the custard….)

The Steamed Egg Custard is apparently a Peter Fang specialty – it tasted as good as its presentation. The dish looks like and has the texture of a flan, but rather than bake it, they steam the egg custard and add edamame and scallions, which makes it taste a little lighter overall than a traditional flan. So so creative! It’s also a great dish to order as a small group so you can all share, which we did with our neighbors who then wished they had ordered it.
Then back to the lighter side, have a look at our favorite dish, which was the Sauteed Spinach with White Fish. They serve it with a boat load of garlic (love love love), white pepper, lemon and ginger. Oh so delish!

The last savory dish we tried was Chicken sauteed with Choy Sum (apparently the heart of bok soy) and ginger, soy, garlic and ginger. On the top? Sesame seeds of course, which was prominent throughout the menu and part of nearly all our dishes.

For dessert, we tried a Sesame Ball and a Crispy Apple Crepe with Black Sesame Seeds on the inside, and chocolate and white sesame seeds on the outside. YUM!!! Rather than coffee, we had two fruity teas to end our meal, making it a perfect evening, rain and all!

As for other menu options? What’s great is that most of their dishes are made from seasonal ingredients they buy at local Chinatown markets. They’re known for changing the menu frequently and offering dishes that use what’s freshest at a particular time of year.

Serving both Northern and Southern Chinese cuisine, some of their appetizer options include Northern Style Pork Dumplings in sesame sauce, Chicken Dumplings with chicken, corn and scallion, Fang’s Peking Buns, which is a soft fluffy mantao stuffed with beef, duck, chicken, pork, tofu or zucchini, Sesame Bok Choy, a crisp bok choy tossed in garlic, onions, basil, sesame oil and chili flakes, Cold Sesame Noodles, tossed in a thick house made garlic sesame sauce, topped with scallions, cilantro and cabbage slaw, Cold Tofu Edamame Salad, Chili Puffed Rice Salad mixed with raw ginger, garlic, aromatics, and spiced with two chili sauces, and an Eight Treasure Salad, which is a combo of pea shoot and cabbage apple salad.

Since we love salads and healthy fresh vegetables, we tend to steer our menu selections in that direction, however if you’re a fried or pan-fried lover, they have plenty to choose from as well, including a fried onion cake with peanut sauce (WOW!)

On the creative side, there’s their exquisite Steamed Seafood Pot, which is a mixture of prawns, fish, scallop, scallions, confit garlic, rice noodles and cilantro, mushroom braised in shitake broth with soy, fresh herbs and barley, Crispy Fish Lettuce Wraps, served with fish, mint, purple cabbage slaw and apples, all wrapped in lettuce, Sticky Finger Spare Ribs, which are fun to eat with your hands, and a ton of soup options, from Country Rice Chowder, Hot and Sour Soup where you can order chicken or tofu, Sizzling Rice Soup, Fang’s Homemade Pork Wonton Soup, Traditional Pork Wonton Soup, Spicy Dumpling Soup, Japanese Pumpkin Soup, pureed into a light broth with corn, and White River Soup, where they simmer a whole fish with tofu puff, pork wontons, vermicilli, and scallions.

In the wok, you can go for chicken, beef or pork served in a variety of styles and sauces, from Nanking Sesame Chicken, Panfried Chicken Breast, Fragrant Basil Chicken, Sauteed Ginger Chicken, Mongolian Beef Tower, BBQ Pork Spare ribs, and Salted Pork Belly with Japanese Pumpkin, to seafood dishes, including a Seafood Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Mushrooms dish tossed with caramelized onions, Szechuan Shrimp with Green beans, Honey Apple Prawns coated in sweet mayo paired with five spice crisped apples, Mouth Fried Calamari in a tangy lemon garlic sauce and a Warm Crispy Scallop Salad, tossed with puffed rice, fruit, mushrooms, tomatoes, complimented by a garlic sesame dressing.

For vegetarians, they have a number of tofu and vegetable dishes, from a delicious Tofu eggplant mushroom dish with ginger and garlic sweet soy sauce and Tofu in chili black bean sauce with green beans to a slightly heavier Crispy Honey Tofu in a sweet mayo sauce served over marinated bok choy or their Eggplant in Chili garlic sauce.

I’m not a fan of rice or noodle dishes, largely because the number of carbs is so high, and I tend to stick to higher protein and veggie diets, so we avoided all of their heavy carb options. That said, they do offer some healthy rice options — rather than have it pan-fried which is common, you can order brown rice tossed with garlic, caramelized onions, fresh herbs and black beans, which is a lovely high fiber dish. You can get this brown rice dish gem with a combination of two of the following: king oyster mushrooms, edamame, green beans, zucchini or tomatoes, a great alternative for the vegetarians among you. For meat eaters,  you can choose from fish, shrimp, chicken, and pork — the same goes for their noodle dishes.

Take a look at their interior to get an idea of their chic and modern flare and design. We’re huge fans of their food and had a great dining experience. More information about the restaurant, including their dinner and lunch menus can be found at: http://www.fangrestaurant.com/

Details:

FANG Restaurant

660 Howard Street @ 3rd Street

San Francisco, CA 

415.777.8568 

www.fangrestaurant.com

Renee Blodgett
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Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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