House of Nanking: The REAL San Francisco Treat!

(In case you missed it: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3)

Looking back, The Big Sur continues to be my favorite experience of the road trip. But not too far behind is San Francisco, our last stop on the journey. Dealing with fatigue, muscle soreness and heavy eyelids, we mustered up enough stamina and gas money to drive towards the city that Bob Saget built.

The short 2 1/2 drive consisted of green pastures, ocean views and enough rain to supply the set of Sleepless in Seattle. Over the next couple of days, we walked the streets of Chinatown and the infamous Fisherman’s Wharf. But first it’s time for some Chinese!

Handmade Fortune Cookies in Chinatown

With a 24 hours window in front of us, we quickly decided on places to see and visit while we were in town. Chinatown was on top of everyone’s lists and rightfully so. My sister recommended a popular eatery called House of Nanking. It was a 10 minute drive from the hotel and the menu and prices seemed right. We were greeted with a line out the door, which further proved it was the place to go in the Bay Area.

Luckily the wait wasn’t too long (locals usually have to endure 1-hour wait times) and we quickly snaked through the dining room tailing our hostess who was leading the way. When it came down to our orders, we went some local favorites like the Nanking Sesame Chicken and Pan-fried Garlic Fish.

Sesame Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes

The Sesame Chicken did not disappoint. An extremely crispy, light, batter covered a mound of hand cut chunks of white meat chicken. I was pretty stupid not to order this. But then again my past experiences with Sesame weren’t memorable which is probably why I didn’t order it (sigh….someone REALLY needs to invent a time machine). Easily the best sesame chicken I’ve ever had. And it’s only $9.95 too! HA!

Pan-Fried Garlic Fish. It was good, but nowhere near the Sesame Chicken…

Sliced beef atop rice, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. Yeah. We were confused too.

The two dishes above failed to reach the level of culinary crack that the Sesame chicken blessed us with. Although the menu described the garlic fish as being “crusted in Asian spices”, the actual product was boring and tasteless. The garlic sauce which was mixed in with the sauteed spinach and peppers was my only source of flavor. I should have ordered the Sesame chicken….

And the last dish we tried out was a “kitchen sink” of sorts. Overcooked rice, spinach and sliced tomatoes provided the foundation for silver dollar sized cuts of beef. This item belongs nowhere near their menu and I’d be damned if I see any of you order it. Stick with the Sesame chicken!!


Listen, don’t let those last two dishes steer you away from House of Nanking. The place is always mobbed and you have to give their signature plate a try. It’s really worth waiting in the rain!

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