House of Nanking is a Chinese place over here in North Beach (technically Chinatown). The story is, apparently, that it was just a regular hole-in-the-wall Chinese place in a sea of a million Chinese places (just on the outskirts of Chinatown), but that this one was the place. Like, you know how there’s 50 billion restaurants in the City, but there’s only lines out the door at a proverbial handful? It was one of those. So they spruced the place up (a little bit), donned a multi-colored sign, and continued to attract lines down the block and guidebook tributes.
I finally went a few weeks ago with the ladies. They don’t take reservations, so you have two options: get there at like 5.30 so you don’t have to wait, or get there later and be prepared to wait outside for a table. We opted for the former option this fine night, and were seated promptly. After perusing the menu for a bit, we were confronted by our neighboring diners.
“Try this,” said the man.
He gave us some of his beef broccoli. And then bits of another dish. He and his wife insisted that the way to order here is to just tell the waitress what you don’t want, and let them do the rest. While this method of ordering has historically been the antithesis of my idea of a path to a good meal, I’ve totally come around to it. I was the only veggo*, but my friends obliged anyway, even though I did not require such treatment. We told the waitress to bring us anything without meat, but that fish was ok. In addition to a pointed order of “melts in your mouth fried calamari” for good measure (the menu indicated this was “highly recommended”, and I almost always listen to menus).
Being a calamari snob, this wan’t my favorite dish. It was pretty tender though, and tasted good. Just a bit soggy for my taste, though I suppose “crispy” was not promised in the description. The other items they brought were all good. My favorites were the salt and pepper shrimp with mushroom (see photo at the top), and stirfried baby pea shoots with garlic and chili flakes:
The “Fang’s panfried garlic fish” with seasonal Chinese veggies was also good:
My least favorite items were some of the other girls’ favorites, so I won’t knock them:
Overall I liked the food and would recommend the place. I certainly think there were more things on the menu that I would have liked to try, so I’m sure I’ll be back.
*read: vegetarian. And, in my case, half-assed vegetarian (pescatarian).