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.
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/