San Mateo the new Chinatown? Everyday Beijing slings a mean stir-fried pancake strip
Biscuits and gravy: Stir-fried wheat and corn meal biscuit, left, and stir-fried strips of pancakes are a few "hometown specials from old Beijing," as EBR puts it. Photo by Kimberly Chun.
By Kimberly Chun
Note to self: forget Grant, Clement, and even Irving Street - I'm beginning to believe that San Mateo is the real Chinatown. Every time I venture south to the Peninsula 'burb, right around B Street and 25th Street, I'm stumbling over some great little dumpling joint or unpretentious enclave of regional Chinese cooking, tucked away in an otherwise shrug-worthy strip mall.
My latest find: Everyday Beijing Restaurant on the sleepy, sunny end of South B Street, across the way from a newish, cavernous branch of Espetus Churrascaria. A spartan interior in the tradition of no-nonsense Chinese dive restaurants, though the space is bright and airy. But what a menu: the long-form dinner version is 150 items deep (give or take a beer or four). Not only do you get only-viable-if-you're-Chinese items like marinated pig ear strips, but mystery items like "Tofu Cluster with Beijing Sauce." I haven't had a cluster in eons!
Yelpsters rave about the fish and chive dumplings - unusual, in my neck of the Mission, for sure, but I'm trying to keep my mystery fish intake down and my mercury levels low, so I passed and considered the radish lamb dumplings instead, while companion Jules enviously eyed the green onion pancake and wheat bun beef wrap on other eaters' tables.
In the end I skipped the spicy beef cartilage cold noodle and went for the stir-fried wheat and corn meal biscuit and the vegetarian stir-fried strips of pancakes, on the recommend of the friendly waitress. Stir my fries, dude - bring on the peanut oil. The latter was a delish cabbage and broccoli variant on stir-fried chow fun or chow mein; the former, a more unique blend of diced cucumbers, carrots and... biscuit. Imagine a slightly veggie-skewed Chinese rendition of spatzle. One misfire: the vegetarian dumplings - far too much alcohol came screaming off the shredded cabbage inside those puppies.
Still, Everyday Beijing definitely inspired me to haul the old cartilage back for a return visit. After all, there are dozens and dozens of items yet to try on that humongoid menu. One could do worst than eating one's way through regional Chinese by way of San Mateo (and Millbrae) - so, look out, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot.
EVERYDAY BEIJING RESTAURANT
637 S. B St., San Mateo