Ever since my sister took my parents to Alice Chinese Bistro for Shandong food, they have been talking about how the chicken there is so good that it might even be better than the chicken at San Tung Restaurant. Now this I had to see for myself.
So I made them go back again with me.
We almost gave up on Alice Chinese Bistro because parking was such a nightmare in the area, but luckily my mother insisted that we keep trying until we finally scored one a few blocks away:
The interior of Alice Chinese Bistro is divided up rather strangely:
The dining area we were seated in felt like a convered garage space. It was freezing, so they set up some heat lamps. INSIDE. Giant outdoor heat lamps right next to the tables. I felt like half of my face was going to catch on fire until my sister was kind enough to trade seats with me. The scorching heat didn't seem to bother her, so maybe it was just me being sensitive. Sigh.
Creative indoor heating aside, the food at Alice Chinese Bistro was pretty standard. And when I say standard, I mean it was pretty darn good.
We started with a beef roll cake ($6.95):
The English translation makes it sound weirder than it actually is. It's basically a pan fried crepe with thinly sliced beef and veggies in it. Super delicious when the crepe is nice and crisp on the outside, which it was.
The whole point of the excursion was to get this, the original dry fried chicken wings ($10.95):
Omigawd. So. Freakin. Crispy. That crunch. That glaze. That burning hot chicken. I can totally see this as the perfect late night snack.
We could have stopped there, but of course we didn't. We also got the lamb noodle soup ($7.95):
Handmade flat noodles, of course. The lamb noodle soup was good, but the one at King of Noodles is better. The lamb was a bit tough, which wasn't pleasing.
As usual, my mother had to order the da ru mien, translated at Alice Chinese Bistro as combination spicy seafood, chicken (pork) noddle ($7.95). Yes, noddle. That wasn't a typo. Noodle or noddle, my mother always feels like she has to order da ru mien whenever she sees it on a menu:
Something about chasing a childhood memory, which by this point my sister and I believe she's made it all up in her head. I wasn't a fan of the da ru mien. I never have been. Every time my mother has ordered it, it's been rather lackluster. I don't know why she persists in thinking that it'll ever turn out good.
As if that wasn't enough food, we also ordered the Xinjiang noodle with chicken ($7.95):
We asked for flat noodles and they were perfect with just the right amount of chew. Or as we say in Chinese, Q. They were super Q. Definitely my favorite noodle dish of the night.
Because my sister checked in on Yelp, we also got complimentary hot soy milk around the table:
Unsweetened, exactly the way it's supposed to be so that you can tailor your own soy milk by adding the sugar yourself.
For the chicken alone, I would go back to Alice Chinese Bistro again and again. Between San Tung Restaurant and Alice Chinese Bistro, I can't say for certain which one is better. But given that the wait at San Tung is always crazy, I would go with Alice Chinese Bistro for the convenience factor. Also, because there's less people, the service feels at Alice more attentive and less rushed.
We had a lot of fun at Alice Chinese Bistro that night. One of the other parties present was obviously a son bringing his girlfriend to meet his family for the first time. We kept one ear on their conversation so that after we left, we could discuss what was so awkward about it. We all agreed that the most awkward part came after the son left with his girlfriend. First of all, why would they leave before the family in the first place? But then the coup de grace, the mother concluding the night with: "Well, she was alright. But I guess in the end it's our son's decision."
Ouch. Not the most effusive praise for sure.
Happy New Year, everyone! Here's to more good food in 2016!
Alice Chinese Bistro
420 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122