Chinatown Diaries, Summary of Previous Posts: Washington Street Corridor

Clay pot rice with Chinese sausage at Utopia Cafe (photo: Jonathan Kauffman/SF Weekly)

Chinatown Diaries chronicles one man’s effort to eat at every restaurant and food shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown, surveying the neighborhood block by block, rice plate by rice plate. Maximum entree price permitted: $10.

This Washington Street directory is a catalogue of restaurants I have written about, either on SF Weekly‘s food blog or on my own. (See the interactive map for the full list of restaurants covered.) Please note that there are other restaurants and food shops on these streets, but these were the only ones I thought worth writing about:

* = recommended

Napoleon Super Bakery
1049 Stockton (at Jackson), 951-8133
Serves: Chinese pastries of many different varieties, but most of the customers are there for the baked buns — corn and ham, pork floss*, raisin, taro, custard.

Lucky Creation
854 Washington (at Ross/Stockton), 989-0818
Serves: Buddhist vegetarian restaurant known for its mixed gluten plate; keep in mind Chinese Buddhist cuisine eschews garlic and onions, so dishes tend toward the bland.

San Sun
848 Washington (at Ross), (415) 296-8228
Serves: Primarily Vietnamese-Chinese noodle soups — hundreds of them — and stir-fried noodles. The pho ga, or chicken pho,* has beautifully balanced, delicate flavors.

Kam Lok
834 Washington (at Waverly), 421-8102
Serves: Basement restaurant with solid, very homey Cantonese food. The hot pots are nothing special, but the yee mein are pretty good; the $38 salt-and-pepper crab dinner, which feeds five or six, may be Chinatown’s best bargain.

Napoleon Super Bakery’s pork floss bun.

Imperial Palace
818 Washington (at Waverly), 956-9888, imperialpalace-restaurant.com
Serves: To be frank, lousy dim sum, as well as Cantonese dinners and banquet fare.

Sam Wo — CURRENTLY CLOSED
813 Washington (at Grant), 982-0596
Serves: Noodles and rice plates. San Francisco’s favorite after-bar destination. Please, oh please, reopen, Sam Wo.

Utopia Cafe
139 Waverly (at Washington), 956-2902
Serves: A variety of Cantonese rice plates, but everyone who goes there orders clay pot rice; while it’s not generally as good as the rice at Ma’s Dim Sum, Utopia’s version with chicken and mushrooms is particularly fine.

Chinatown Restaurant
744 Washington St. (at Wentworth St.), (415) 392-7958, www.chinatownrestaurantsf.com
Serves: Although Chinatown Restaurant is the most aggressive restaurant in the neighborhood to court tourists, and that’s obvious on the menu, the “homestyle dishes” section of the menu has some decent (and very expensive) Sichuan food. The balcony offers some of Chinatown’s only outdoor seating.

Bread of Life
94 Walter U Lum Pl. (at Washington), heraldbreadoflife.com. Window opens at 10:30 a.m. Tue.-Sat.
Serves: A small selection of Chinese-American pastries (hot dog bao, mini pork buns); the only pastry worth ordering, unless you like dinner rolls, is the pineapple bun. A sort of permanent popup, located in a knickknack store and connected to a Christian organization that provides job training and social services to immigrants.

More to come as I continue down Washington Street.