Across the street at GRB you can get something similar and just as tasty but milder: seafood Hong Kong<\d>style crispy noodles ($7.25), a stir-fry of shellfish, calamari, snow peas, carrot sticks, whole baby shiitake mushrooms, and leaves of nappa cabbage laid atop a broad nest of crisped vermicelli-style noodles. The well-modulated tone here seems rather Cantonese.
Soups track a similar divide. San Tung's hot and sour soup ($4.95), chockablock with strips of tofu, peas, bamboo shoots, and willow-tree mushrooms, arrives on the tongue with a nice sourness but later releases a pepper heat that vents up through one's nostrils. Golden Rice Bowl's seaweed egg flower soup ($4.50), on the other hand, is almost like liquid sushi, with its black webbings of kelp giving off their subtle but distinctive odor; ballast (and some color) is provided by diced root vegetables and peas.
We pause briefly to acknowledge San Tung's fabulous shrimp and leek dumplings ($6.50 for 12 a deal). The menu describes them as "little," but really they're about the size and shape of potstickers, though steamed instead of pan-fried. What is most remarkable is their richly juicy filling, a fragrant blend of ground shrimp mixed with ginger, garlic, and Chinese chives. You could make a meal out of a plate of these.
Golden Rice Bowl has an aquarium a nice touch, especially since it's purely decorative and not a holding tank full of creatures waiting to be plucked out and turned into somebody's dinner. The place is also more gently lit than its neighbor across the way, where overhead lights glare and the atmosphere is not for the faint of heart or who are, as we used to say in grade school, chicken.
GOLDEN RICE BOWL
Daily, 11 a.m.9:30 p.m.
1030 Irving, SF
Beer and wine
Mon.Tues. and Thurs.Sun., 11 a.m.9:30 p.m.
1031 Irving, SF
Beer and wine