Many people come to San Francisco and orient immediately for Chinatown to satisfy Asian food cravings. Maybe it is the clothes hanging from windows or the loud, raucous nature of Broadway, but Chinatown just does not do it for me. I prefer to head out to the Richmond and hit Clement St.
A couple weeks back I pondered where to have the next Asian Food Club. Would we try Lers Ros for legitimate Thai food in the Tenderloin? Or perhaps Turtle Tower for arguably the best bowl of pho you will find in San Francisco? Jai Yun for a multi-course Chinese kitchen dinner? After conversing with the other members of Asian Food Club, we realized our deep hankering for one thing, and one thing only: Crab. And not just any crab, but Dungeness crab and lots of it.
We debated between iconic Thanh Long out in the boondocks, Bourdain go-to R and G Lounge in North Beach, or Vietnamese PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement. With a name like “dungeness island” and five different types of crab on the menu including, Peppercorn, Roasted, Drunken, Curry and Spicy, PPQ became the obvious choice.
If you have a large party, try and reserve one of the bigger round tables upstairs in the banquet style room. Do not be shy about donning your plastic bib either. After a couple hours of messy, juicy crab you will need all the protective gear you can get.
The best crabs (we tried all but the Curry) were the Peppercorn, Roasted and Spicy. The Drunken was flavorful but paled in comparison to the rest of our shelled friends. Also, embrace your inner Asian and eat the body of the crab, it’s where the best meat is, and why not scrape out some of the crab gut morsels.
In terms of sides, you MUST order the crispy fried Peppercorn Chicken Wings appetizer. The hot and sour catfish soup serves as a warming start to the meal. Lastly, the meal is not complete without a double order of garlic noodles. Prepare to drop your clothes off at the dry cleaners when done. The crab juices and loads of garlic make the cleaning stop requisite, but believe me, the meal is well worth it.
2332 Clement St. (cross 24th St)
Anne Pao is a contributing food writer for SF Station and Yum. When she is not satisfying carnivorous tendencies, you can find her adventuring in the Bay area outdoors. For more Pao reads check out her blog at http://sftaoofpao.com
Photo credit: http://www.ppqdungeness.com