One of the great pleasures of San Francisco’s culinary scene is the abundance of different Asian cuisines. The heartiest and homiest revelation for me has been that of Teochew food. The southeastern province of China shares influences from Shantou, Malaysia/Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. On a simple jaunt about the Sunset District, I stumbled into Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia, and I haven’t been the same since.
The restaurant is a tiny little hole in the wall that resides beneath a giant glowing yellow sign on Noriega Street between 21st and 22nd avenues. Once inside, everything changes. The smells of tangy fish sauce, pork, and braised fowl waft through the large dining room. In front of every guest is a big bowl of noodles, decorated with ground pork, shrimp cakes, dumplings, and offal. My mouth starts to water as I speculate over what to order first.
The menu is long and the options vary slightly, but for the most part it’s soup. Egg noodles and rice noodles are nested into bowls while soups are poured over or served in a small bowl on the side. Each soup is loaded with either duck, beef, chicken, or seafood and slightly varies depending on the type of noodle. The #10 is a wonderful place to start, braised duck leg with wonton and a blend of egg noodles and Chinese flat rice noodles and broth on the side. The blend of noodles creates a wonderful texture of starchy breadiness with a clean springy texture from the rice noodles. The giant duck meat peels of the bone, adding deeper, meatier flavors to the whole mixture with every tear. Although the dish sounds like there is a lot going on, it is actually quite simple. The deep, rustic flavors are compliments of fresh cilantro and scallion, and the soup is almost sweet from cloves and star anise.
The other dish worth traveling out here for is the #24 seafood combination. Shrimp, fish balls, squid, ground pork, and fish cakes are all piled atop that same blend of egg and flat rice noodles. The wonderful blend of oceanic textures will bounce around your mouth and wash down beautifully with some piping hot broth. Prepare to be hooked for life.
Similar to the vastly popular Hai Ky Mi Gia, another Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin, Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia is almost like the residential version. The menu is almost identical, but you come out here to avoid the crowds that come with the city. Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia feels like you’re visiting a relative’s house, the service is sweet and the food is even better. Sometimes you need to travel for good home cooking and Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia is well worth the trip.
Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia, 1427 Noriega St.