The main reason all of us were at San Dong House, of course, was the hand-pulled noodles (all $6.99), made with a low-protein flour that the noodle master kneads, twists, and stretches to an astonishing elasticity. The noodles, slightly thinner than udon, are served either in soup or boiled with a little sauce. Moving a hank of them into a smaller bowl required stretching my chopsticks as high as I could reach, then having a friend coax the trailing ends into their destination. (Cheaters can cut theirs up with kitchen shears.)

If you're looking for noodles without broth, ignore San Dong's northern Chinese take on Sichuan dan dan noodles, dressed with a dull puddle of sesame paste and chile oil, in favor of the more robust version with bean sauce, ground pork, and julienned cucumbers. The oxtail soup noodles, and the even better beef with beef tendon noodles, floated in a beef stock seasoned with a few star anise pods to contribute the illusion of sweetness. So much gelatin had melted into the clear stock that it shimmered, feeling satiny on the tongue.

In the kitchen, a master stretches the noodles into shape.
Lara Hata
In the kitchen, a master stretches the noodles into shape.

Location Info


San Dong House BBQ

3471 Geary
San Francisco, CA 94118

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Richmond (Inner)


3741 Geary (at Second Ave.), 668-5888. 11 a.m.-midnight Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Fri.-Sat. Muni: 33, 38. Wheelchair accessible. Noise level: low. Cash only.

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The joy of eating hand-pulled noodles is simple and visceral. With your chopsticks, you pluck the smallest tangle you can catch from the Sargasso Sea of floating noodles and begin slurping. They are smooth, these noodles. An Italian would not call them al dente, but Italian pasta can't quite replicate their texture, paradoxically soft and still bouncy. You suck and suck, determined to get to the end of the strand without biting. You pause to exhale. You slurp some more. Who will punk out first, the noodle or your cheeks? Each mouthful is a test of endurance — but the victory always belongs to you.

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