We’re eating our way through San Francisco like a Japanese horror movie.
Last night we went to church at Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral, then walked the eight blocks or so through Chinatown on Grant. We had a drink later in the Hilton, which was once the Holiday Inn, the only place we could afford that was decent in the city in the 70s (it was within the company’s expense parameters).
We wound up at the oddly named R&G Lounge on Kearny, which our concierge said is simply the best place to eat in Chinatown. We entered into sheer chaos, with two phlegmatic hostesses corralling reservations, walk-ins, large parties, and so on. People without reservations were given a pice of scrap paper with a number written on it and the admonition, “At least an hour.” They all docilely waited either outside or inside, some with infants. The entire place looked like a train station with a stereotypically poor public address system and everyone vying to get a seat on the last train out of town.
Our 7:30 reservation was honored at 7:40. I began to down lychee martinis and we shouted at each other and the wait staff over the noise in the packed dining room. We ordered a variety of food (including a wonderful salt and pepper calamari), but focused on the house signature dish, a huge crab with about 150 spices that most tables were enjoying. It was incredible.
This was the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in San Francisco, and anywhere outside of Hong Kong, for that matter. The majority of diners appeared to be local, though the diversity was startling. (One matriarch, speaking in German-accented English, marched here look-alike daughters and male friends/husbands in, clearly having done this before, and began barking orders at the staff and her family around a huge table!)
I’d advise you avoid Saturday night, but DO get to the R&G, http://rnglounge.com.
And I CAN drink three lychee martinis IF the walk back to the hotel is downhill.
© Alan Weiss 2012