My family's quest for a late lunch after grocery shopping on Irving St brought us to Lychee Cafe:
We were slightly too early for happy hour (2pm-6pm), but we didn't feel like waiting around just for it. So in we went:
The restaurant was super spacious, with high ceilings and lots of natural light. Not exactly usual for a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco.
My father always orders seafood pan fried noodles ($5.75) when he sees it on a menu:
My mother, on the other hand, always wants Fujian (or "Fook Kin" as spelled by Lychee Cafe) friend rice ($8.50):
As for me? I love myself a good baked seafood rice ($6.75):
Yea...that's a lot of noodles and rice. We should probably pick only one per meal, but we can't help ourselves.
Lychee Cafe has a three dishes plus soup special for $17.95. You get to choose from a pretty long list. We were only really interested in two. One was the deep fried flounder:
The second was the walnut prawns:
Both are dishes you can't really make at home. We used to order these all the time at the 3-dish-1-soup restaurant by our house before it closed, so it felt really nostalgic get them.
The menu said that a single item cost $6.50, which we thought to be a good deal, so we didn't bother getting a third item. It wasn't until we got the bill that we learned the $6.50 price only kicks in after you've ordered at least three dishes. Instead, each came around $10.
Ugh. That was super annoying, but it took so long for us to finish our meal that we didn't even want to bother arguing.
Everything was slow. From getting our orders taken to getting the food to getting the bill. We stopped expecting service and started getting things for ourselves. Someone from another table even went to refill their own teapot with hot water.
We didn't really have any plans, so we weren't in a hurry. The table next to us, however, got really fed up and made a bit of a fuss. We must have been in really good moods that day, because we found the slow service to be almost...endearing. The servers were so nice that we couldn't get mad.
We even stood around and waited while the lady behind the counter made our $1.50 hot milk teas (that never arrived) to go. We actually wanted to take the drinks off our bill completely, but the lady was so smiley and apologetic that we couldn't find the heart to tell her to forget it.
If you have a long afternoon with nothing to do and nowhere to go, by all means, meander into Lychee Cafe. The food is decent and the prices are super affordable. Just remember, if you do the 3-dish-1-soup deal, order at least three dishes! And if you go during happy hour, certain dishes are only $2.75. Say wut?
To sum up our experience at Lychee Cafe, go with low (low, low) expectations and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
2333 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122