Just thought I found an interesting place in San Francisco Chinatown. Usually Cafe Broadway is your typical congee place that also doubles with wonton noodles and other tasty carb-overload dishes. On occasion when eating lunch I’ve noticed that there were some big tables reserved that had some fantastic looking seafood dishes (saw steamed razor clams with vermicelli, golden-yolk fried dungeness crab, and black bean steamed oysters). A bit odd at this type of place, especially with no displayed seafood menu seen anywhere, but curiosity overcame me and our family decided to try out a seafood dinner here.
Giving a quick call, it appears that they are willing to accommodate seafood cuisine if given a heads up, typically a day or so, but even as late as 4 pm (for courtesy sake, I’d try earlier). From what I can gather and speculate, the seafood is purchased from the nearby Chinatown markets (hence why an early call is suggested). There are no visible fish tanks in the restaurants.
Big surprise for our reservation though, they had mantis shrimp! I’ve only seen them once recently in the bay area (at Tai Yuan restaurant in Daly City and we only found that out after we were eating dinner and overhearing a server announce that fact to another table…). Asking the server (at both Tai Yuan previously) about the mantis shrimp, they claim that they were flown in from around South East Asia and that’s about all I could find out. In any case, we decided to reserve that along with steamed fish and a dungeness crab and ordering whatever veggies they had when we arrived.
Starting off the dinner and unsure of a protein source, the waitress suggested a deep fried squab.
Usually, I don’t expect much from Chinatown, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not overcooked and fairly juicy, I was pretty happy with it overall.
Following that, we order mantis shrimp maggi-style.
Very well done, more of a wet style than a dry style. But the mantis shrimp weren’t overcooked and I am simply reminded of a few bites in Hong Kong.
Also since we got a little greedy, we decided to try salt and pepper mantis shrimp
Salt and pepper style was done fairly well, not too greasy with a good amount of spice. These things were pretty tasty, though my preference is still on the maggi-style.
Over indulging, we went gung-ho and gone for steamed crab as well.
Didn’t expect the flat rice noodles (vermicelli was my expectation), but boy they went well with the garlic and the crab.
Following that, we went with some clear broth beef stew.
Not the most beautiful dish to stare at, but the peppery broth gave the dish a nice kick. The beef stew was not too tough and the radish absorbed the broth fairly well.
Lastly, finished the seafood galore with a simple steamed black bass.
Not overcooked, and the draw of ginger and scallions brought out the flavors nicely. Not my favorite fish to eat, but done well.
We ordered ong-choy with fermented tofu (not pictured) and that was a little on the saltier end, but still nicely done.
Honestly, I’m fairly surprised at this meal. Did not imagine I would find a well cooked seafood dinner (especially the rarely seen mantis shrimp!) in Chinatown. Very big props, though at our saturday dinner, there were only two waiters with a fairly smallish crowd; though as we were preparing to leave, a small table next to us brought out some Hennessy and were enjoying their soon to be feast (they ordered the mantis shrimp as well). I’m sure they were regulars and knew what to order.