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Chinese Food Finder: The Bay Area and San Francisco

by: Carl Chu

Manhattan Beach CA: Crossbridge Publishing Company 2004, $11.95, Paperback
ISBN: 1-932296-05-0

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2005 Issue: 12(2) page(s): 17 and 18

This third Chinese Food Finder volume follows others about Los Angeles, and New York City and environs. As have the others, it is more than a local expression of where to eat. That information is within its pages, but so is a lot about individual dishes and about many of China's regional cuisines.

Read the book's white pages for background information, then read the blue ones to learn about the restaurants where they are featured. Chu provides location, telephone number, and two or three dishes from each particular place. Go to them and try them, and try many other dishes at them, too.

Linda Burum of the Los Angeles Times said of that city's Chinese Food Finder: It is a trove of delicious information that unlocks the mysteries of even the most cryptic of Chinese menus. How true, even for Chinese food buffs. We used this particular volume to locate then try similar deliciousness in the Bay area. Amy Spector of www.Gayot.com said the one she reviewed leaves one salivating for dishes she never knew existed. If this is true for us two foodies, imagine what you might find in its pages.

Also true for the first Los Angeles volume, which has since been revised and very much improved, this particular Bay area bonanza needs serious attention to detail if you are using it and unfamiliar with its region of the country. To make it super valuable, as in the Los Angeles revision, it would be better with additional proofing. Perhaps it was rushed to press rather than wait, so just check all names and addresses in a local telephone book, then take off. In fact, the first thing to do is to check each area code before trying to go to a restaurant. That simple item will help you get to the right area on the first try.

Mr. Chu, we love this and all of your books, and because we do, we await new volumes and suggest that you consider:
1. Including a few maps
2. When names repeat themselves such as the Richmond area of San Francisco and the nearby city of Richmond, be more careful.
3. Be sure that all names and addresses are identical throughout the book. Koi Palace is one restaurant but it has two locations in this volume (Millbrae and Daly City). Only the latter is correct.
4. When listing restaurants alphabetically or by culinary or regional location, do provide cross references to other pages where they are discussed. Not all blue-page places are in your alphabetic listing and elsewhere. All their page numbers in the Index would solve that.
5. The book would benefit users going to a particular region of the city if all restaurants in that region were listed in one place. That saves flipping back and forth and missing places.
6. For those from out of town, a regional map with distances by miles and times to get from a central location would be of great value. So would some rating scale.
We were in the Bay area for eight days and could never eat in every place that titillated our taste buds even though this was not our first visit. We needed less help making educated choices than the one other couple we met using this book.

We ate in more than a dozen places, and even with help, did miss quite a few we now know we should have tried. Without this book, our guess is we would have missed even more. One final comment, please write Chinese food finders for Boston, Vancouver, and Washington D.C. regions. Also, think about doing them state by state where fewer Chinese-restaurants can be found. We appreciate your efforts and just want more of them.

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