631 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/24/14
One of the most popular (if not the most) restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown is R&G Lounge. It’s been around for almost 30 years, but has gained more widespread fame/popularity in recent years as it’s been featured on TV (most notably by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations).
R&G Lounge frequently draws a line for dinner service, but it was a madhouse on Christmas Eve. It was totally a cluster as the entire lobby was literally shoulder-to-shoulder, spilling out onto the street. Luckily I had made a 7:30 reservation, but our table still wasn’t ready until 8:30. I heard walk-ins quoted at 1.5-2hr waits, so the reservation did help a little.
Live Crab with Salt & Pepper live battered crab deep fried and sprinkled with salt and pepper seasonings
The restaurant’s claim to fame is this crab, a must-order here. The Dungeness crab is battered and fried with Chinese salt & pepper. The crab was sweet with a clean flavor, and sucking on the shells provided some of the crunchy batter and addicting seasoning. Quite nice.
Minced Seafood in Lettuce Cups stir-fried minced scallops, prawns, chinese sausage, mushrooms and bamboo shoots served with lettuce cups
Sea and earth flavors definitely came together in these lettuce cups. Not bad, but not great.
Pea Tendrils sauteed with garlic
Sauteed pea tendrils were simply done with plenty of oil and garlic.
Baked Black Cod large fillet of black cod marinated and baked in special glaze
The black cod was another highlight with a luscious flesh and a sweet glaze. Very nice.
R&G Special Beef stir-fried top choice sliced beef marinated with chef’s special sauce
The beef was good, pretty tender, with a slightly sweet-savory sauce.
Salt & Pepper Pork deep fried pork sprinkled with salt and pepper seasonings
This was a decent iteration of the popular pork dish, though pieces weren’t quite as meaty as we had hoped for. Also, it was noticeably on the salty side, moreso than usual.
The crab and black cod were clear highlights, but I can’t help think this restaurant is still pretty overhyped. Much of the other dishes were run-of-the-mill, so it’s hard to justify such a maddening line/wait here at R&G Lounge. Worth a try for someone new to the restaurant, and I could see hardcore crab lovers coming in just for that dish. But for me, it’ll be hard to justify returning with any frequency.