Chinafornia - Page 2

Dishes at Kathy's California Chinese Cuisine have a north-China look with western US influence, complemented by an old world Vienna atmosphere
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Photo by Rory McNamara

The roll call here includes more shredded cabbage and broccoli florets, along with quarters of button mushroom and (a non-vegetable) peeled shrimp.

Our intel source, a local, suggested that we would find the walnut prawns ($10.95) exceptional. Since I have never found walnut prawns exceptional, I was prepared to be disappointed. But ... Kathy's walnut prawns are exceptional! The large, plump shrimp are shelled, then stir-fried in a creamy sauce spiked with some sort of liquor (brandy or rum?), and scattered with candied walnuts and raisins. It is very tricky business to introduce this much sweetness into a savory dish; a balance must be struck, lest you end up with some kind of shrimp dessert. Kathy's version strikes that balance.

Tangerine beef ($10.95), meanwhile, left me secretly chagrined, since the flaps of beef, while tasty, were not coated and deep-fried to heart-stopping crispness before being tossed in a thick and glossy orange sauce. The drill here was more of a conventional stir-fry (with a medley of vegetables) in a soy-based sauce, with the tangerine figuring as an occasional burst of zest. More interesting, or at least unexpected, or unadvertised, were the lithe slices of green apple ringing the platter; their sweet-tartness helped balance both the saltiness of the soy sauce and the richness of the meat.

Other pluses: service is practiced and friendly. You can get brown rice instead of white. Transport logistics are, apart from the terrifying intersection, rather painless, with Muni just steps away and street parking quite easy. The relaxed, well-mannered crowd is easy to take. And, on that happy note, I'm done with Chinese food for a bit. Probably.

Kathy's California Chinese Cuisine

Dinner: nightly, 5–10 p.m.

Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

408 Dewey, SF

(415) 665-6888

Beer and wine

MC/V

Not noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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