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Top 5 Eating Establishments

Top 5 Eating Establishments

I love your blog and you're a great human being, inside and out. What are the best food establishments in the Bay Area?

-Alan From The U.S

Hi Alan, thank you for your really nice compliment.

I really appreciate this question because I truly believe people deserve to know what kinds of restaurants I go to. I mean, how else would you find out where to go for dinner with your step-dad?

Author's Note: I'm a huge fat ass. While this is a pretty good list, these five picks are not the only eating establishments I go to. I may do a "Liping's OTHER Top 5 Eating Establishments" some time in the future.

5. Shah's Halal Food

What's good:

($8.50) Chicken over rice or lamb over rice. White sauce and spicy sauce MANDATORY.


Unctuous in its delivery, Shah's portions might not fill you for the rest of the day. But this is a university located and no frills dip into a halal eating experience. The chicken is juicy and mouth watering, and the lamb is spiced to its core. The white sauce is creamy and rich without the heavy after taste. The spicy sauce is reminiscent of a Sriracha with with a more potent kick. With a side of some crisp salad and free drink of choice, Shah's is a great pick for lunch after class or cravings anytime.

Chicken over rice & Samosa.  (Yelp/Marilee A.)

Chicken over rice & Samosa. (Yelp/Marilee A.)

4. Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

What's good: 

($10.95) Pumpkin Curry and ($9.50) Pad See Ew. Delivery always on point and on time.


The pumpkin curry is filling. For your stomach, your mood and your soul. Abundant in its quantity of green pumpkin, your choice of meat (mine was duck) and peppers, the pumpkin curry is a must-order. Paired with some rice or by itself, it sets the mood for a generous evening. The Pad See Ew may be a bunch of rice noodles tossed with vegetables and meat, but the combination with its tongue dancing and sweet sauce makes it a smart pick even for a first time Thai experience.

Pumpkin Curry.  (Yelp/ Lisa M.)

Pumpkin Curry. (Yelp/ Lisa M.)

3. Hard Knox Cafe

What's good:

Ox tails, fried chicken, and potato salad. Family Style gets you 3 meats and 4 sides for only $14.


While the fried chicken is always a contender for what represents authentic Southern food, Hard Knox Cafe's ox tails were the most tender pieces of meat I've ever had. No Jared Fogle from Subway jokes. The fried chicken is crisy and juicy, but make sure to eat it first if you're opting for Family Style. It gets dry pretty quick, specially the white meat. As for the sides, the potato salad definitely has a lot of depth to it. Cayenne, dill, mayo, dijon... The whole spectrum of umami.

Tender ox tails and mac and cheese.  (Yelp/Debra A.)

Tender ox tails and mac and cheese. (Yelp/Debra A.)

2. The Pot's

What's good:

($33 AYCE) Kobe beef, lamb, tendons and those mini mushrooms. It's all a matter of personal preference. I particularly like the fish, beef and lobster balls! So many innuendos... So many choices.


Hot pot is more about the vibe and experience, not so about the food. Of course when you go to a restaurant, the food always matter. But hot pot involves the same ingredients, and unless you can absolutely tell between fresh and not fresh meat, it's always a good time. Opt for more sauces and vegetables to balance the meat. You're paying for more of a fun time rather than a masterful culinary experience. And there's nothing wrong with that.

The choices range from sea food, veggies, dim sum and thin slices of your pick of meat.  (Yelp/Mike L.)

The choices range from sea food, veggies, dim sum and thin slices of your pick of meat. (Yelp/Mike L.)

1. Banhwich

What's good?

($3.50) Combination pork, BBQ pork banhmi. Extra pickled carrots please!


It's all in the name. I love me some phở, but if I was married to phở and wanted a side piece, banhmi's would be it. You have the perfect elements for a sandwich: toasted, crusted bread with vast layers of unadulterated flavors of caramelized meat and sweet prickly vegetables. And for less than $4 a sandwich? You can't beat that. Banhwich brings memories of off campus lunch after 3rd period in high school, without the traumatic experience of high school.

BBQ Pork Banhmi.  (Yelp/H N.)

BBQ Pork Banhmi. (Yelp/H N.)

Featured: Mandarin House SF

What's Good:

($9.50) Kung Pao Chicken, ($8.75) Dry Sauteed String Beans. On point delivery time.


Newly arrived in the Chinese food game, Mandarin House SF establishes itself as a modern Chinese cuisine restaurant and departs from the image of low brow, greasy and weird after taste establishments that scatter throughout the Mission locale. The KPC is crunchy and not sickly sweet. Mixed with rice that you may order or cook in your rice cooker, it's an upgraded spin on the semi-authentic dish. The string beans are a weakness of mine, and it is delivered not dripping with oil, but with vinegar and spicy peppers that flavor the dish throughout.

General Tsao's Chicken  (Yelp/Alex L.)

General Tsao's Chicken (Yelp/Alex L.)

Ask Liping is a column where readers send Liping Huang questions that just need some real talk answers. Send in your questions by emailing your question, name and where you're from to

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