Along the somewhat chaotic stretch of Mission Street south of Cesar Chavez, it's easy to miss Jasmine Tea House — even with its blazing rainbow-colored neon sign. But one taste of the repast from this humble destination will forever embed it in your memory. The sesame beef — fried to perfection in a tangy, sweet sauce — is our usual, but from the citrus-touched walnut prawns to the expertly prepared duck and melon soup, there's hardly a loser on the menu. The food here caught the attention of President Bill Clinton on a visit to San Francisco in years past, and according to the owners he's addicted: He orders their takeout whenever he visits the city. The lunch menu is perfect for thrifty diners, offering modest portions of the dinner menu's greatest hits for just over a five-spot. And even though dim sum isn't the restaurant's strong suit, when you're hankering for a pork bun on a Sunday and find yourself at 28th and Mission streets, Jasmine is your only salvation.
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