Hing Lung: Top San Francisco Jook Joint

Hing Lung Restaurant
674 Broadway St. (at Stockton)
San Francisco, CA 94133

Finally, a true grubgirl-confirmed value find. If you can make it here on a weekday between 8-11am, you can order jook specials for $2.50 a pop. That’s right.

K-dub and I happened to have a Friday “work from home” morning and ventured out here. Upon entering, you’ll walk down a short hallway with the kitchen directly visible through greasy glass panes on your right. There are lots of steaming pots of jook, and several deep fryers, and I noticed at least 3-4 cooks. (They weren’t waiters, that’s for sure.).

If you come here, make sure you prepare yourself and your sign language skills. We were greeted in Cantonese and signaled that we wanted seating for 2. A series of head nods, grunts, and obsequious smiles followed, which ended up with us seated in the medium-sized banquet hall at a round table shared with 2 others.

Also, if you want to come here to get your bargain jook, make sure your tolerance for cleanliness is modified somewhat. I didn’t see overt dirt or health code violations, though the gender-neutral patron at the table next to me seemed to have chosen to dine out while fighting a case of whooping cough. (I always flashback to that scene in “Outbreak” where someone coughs in the theater and you can see the viral swarm spread out amongst the whole audience…) The issue I had more was what seemed like the gradual build up of grime over time. From the greasy windows, to the questionable formica tabletop, to the laminate on the menus, all I could think about was that I should not have worn shorts to eat here. And, that this place just needed some good old-fashioned elbow grease and a warehouse-sized tub of Simple Green, Formula 409, Comet, name your industrial-cleaning product. I suppose my distaste was not so much at the grime, but that the management could allow such a lack of chutzpah in cleaning the joint.

So with that out of the way, I would still go again; I’d just wear pants and bring some Redi-Wipes or Purell. Why? The jook was tasty. And a bargain.

There is a 1-page menu listing all the $2.50 specials, so we both ordered a meat congee, and shared 1 fried Chinese bread for $1.50. I got pork with preserved duck egg, and K-dub got a beef congee.

We arrived at 10:30am, and did have to wait a bit for our order to be taken. This seems a little opposite of other bargain Chinese restaurants where it seems like I’m being asked my order before I’ve even sat down.

The fried bread arrived first. For $1.50, it was room temperature, yet still crispy. So that means it wasn’t hot ‘n crispy, and thus not made to order. The center was chewy, the outside was heavily fried, and the portion was huge. In about 10 minutes, our congee followed.

Now that was pretty hot, and the bowl was, for this grubgirl, just right. (Note, takeout containers are $0.20 extra…gotta watch those margins! So maybe that’s why I was also motivated to eat everything in my bowl.) My companion, however, had some leftover. But she had more fried bread than me, too, and you know that just expanded in her stomach.

For a total of $7.10 between the two of us, that was a very successful morning. And though we left after 11am, my suspicions that they would try to make us pay full price because the bill was settled after special hours, did not come to fruition. All in all, a fun adventure.

– great value for the food
– hot and large bowls of congee
– huge servings of fried bread

– cleanliness level isn’t for everyone
– the wait for the food didn’t seem to match the patron:waiter ratio
– fried bread not served piping fried hot

This entry was posted in China, Financial District / Downtown, Meals under $5 per main course. Bookmark the permalink.

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