New Year’s Day. West Portal. Most restaurants seemed to be closed, including the pizza place. As usual, my daughter wanted to eat Chinese food.
“There are no Chinese restaurants in West Portal,” said my dad.
He was wrong. There are actually two, including Xiao Loong, which we had walked by on our way to the pizza restaurant. Xiao Loong offered lunch specials, which were a welcome relief after some of the high-priced meals we had eaten.
The interior was clean and stylish, definitely several steps up from your typical hole-in-the-wall. Also in stunning contrast to some of the brusque treatment you get at a Chinese restaurant, our waiter was very friendly and courteous, a welcome change.
The lunch specials came with soup, rice (for the non-noodle dishes) and appetizer (which turned out to be a orange wedge). My daughter actually drank her Egg Drop soup but left the vegetables at the bottom.
We started with appetizers, including xiao long bao, egg rolls and pan-fried dumplings. If I attempted to make xiao long bao, they would be probably turn out like the ones served here. Many of the dumpling skins ripped when you picked them up, releasing their juices prematurely – if you’re into xiao long bao, don’t order them here.
I did, however, enjoy the spring rolls. Even though they were chock full of vegetables, my daughter ate them. These were less oil-laden then ones served over at Yank Sing.
The panfried dumplings were fine. The dumpling wrapper was a little thick, but we still ate them all.
The vegetable chow mein was decent, with lots of vegetables.
My favorite dish was my husband’s family style chili pepper tofu. We didn’t know what it was either and had to ask the waiter for a description. Loaded with vegetables, rice noodles and tofu, the tofu dish was pretty tasty.
I got chicken chow fun, which was a little heavy on the soy sauce. The pieces of chicken were deep fried though, which was unusual. Since I love deep fried food, I loved the chicken.
Even though we had a lot of food, we made our way through most of it and emerged from the restaurant with our bellies full. Is it authentic Chinese food? Well, not quite, as forewarned by the lack of Chinese characters on the menu (though there were chopsticks on the table), but I enjoyed my meal nevertheless.
So, yes, Virginia. There is Chinese food in West Portal.
Location – 250 West Portal Ave., San Francisco, 94127
Website – http://www.xiaoloong.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes