Be prepared to walk into a huge 3 course meal for only $6 and some change. This restaurant is located in a good neighborhood and the decor is fresh. Most cheap Chinese restaurants will look a bit run down while this one actually looks pretty good. As soon as you sit down they will offer you free hot tea and iced water on request. The table settings are all placed in advance but they will take them away once you order since their happy hour is served in individual portions rather than family style. The first course is a bowl of their soup of the day. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, their soup of the day doesn’t taste overly salty or drenched in MSG. (MonoSodium Glutamate) The entrees here are humungous. It looks like the plates were meant for two people. At the end, they bring out a few slices of orange and some fortune cookies for dessert.
We ordered six plates on our visit there. I tried a piece of every plate so I can share my experiences here. The Dragon Beef and Dragon Chicken stood out the most. They were pieces of fried meat with sweet and sour sauce that was more on the sweet side which gave it the perfect taste. Each piece was nice and crunchy but not hard at all. The Dragon Chicken and Beef were soft on the inside. There were no vegetables on this plate, it was for pure carnivores. One of us ordered the Beef and Broccoli plate and the meat was very tender. The broccoli didn’t taste flavorless at all and the beef was not over powering. The meat was from a mediocre cut but was somehow as soft as the Steak Cubes from a higher end restaurant like Koi Palace. The shrimp was horrible, avoid ordering that from the happy hour menu. They were hard and oily. For under $6 you can’t really expect really good seafood anywhere in San Francisco anyways so that was somewhat expected. Another plate we ordered was the Beef Chow Fun. The Beef Chow Fun was not on the happy hour menu but we ordered it anyways. There isn’t much skill required to make a plate of noodles so it came out exactly as we expected, there was nothing extraordinary about it. Overall, most of the dishes that were served for happy hour are highly recommended, just stay away from the shrimp.
The service during happy hours was excellent. Generally, cheaper Chinese restaurants would ignore customers as they come in and seat them at an uncleaned table. Then they would rush the order out of the customers and slap the entrees carelessly on the table. Before people are even done eating, they will serve the bill and give out a “you need to go” vibe. Tsing Tao was the opposite of my stereotype of a cheap Chinese restaurant. We didn’t feel rushed at all and they waiter was smiling as he spoke to us. Our entrees came out relatively close so no one needed to watch others eat while they wait. The bill did not come until we asked for it and we were not rushed to leave. It was relatively slow during happy hour which may explain the better service we were getting compared to the usual experience in a Chinese restaurant but that just means we paid less for more service.
Tsing Tao Restaurant
3107 Clement Street
San Francisco, Ca. 94121
Happy Hour Every Day from 10AM to 4PM
Approximately $5-6 per person