Time: Saturday. April 12. 6:30 PM. Reservation.
Location: SF; Outer Richmond
Address: 2332 Clement St
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Crab
Party Size: 7 (M&V; more)
Order: 13 beers, 3 appetizers, 3 sides, 3 crab
Pre-tip Cost: $255 [$230 food & drink; $15 tax]
Verdict: Messy, garlicky, delicious.
The Richmond is one of the neighborhoods of San Francisco that is sneaky good with its restaurant selection. It doesn’t garner the same fanfare nor have the same flash as the Mission but under its blanket of fog rests a bevy of unassuming yet darn good eateries.
PPQ Dungeness Island is just one example of what the Richmond has to offer. Located on Clement St just short of 25th Ave, the blue awning juts out over the sidewalk displaying a logo that gets right to the point “crab is here.”
The restaurant has two floors. The first floor on street level is a tad more decorated with smaller party tables crammed together. The upstairs is set up with larger round tables for more sizable groups without much in the way of decor.
The menu is rather extensive, offering a full range of Vietnamese dishes ranging from the standard pho soups and rice dishes, spring rolls (fried or cold), and some vegetable sides to go with a few meat-centric entrée options. Of course, there is the star of the show – the Dungeness crab which they prepare five different ways: peppercorn, roasted garlic, drunken, curry and spicy.
Our order was pretty simple. Three appetizers, three sides and three crab.
The appetizers that we started the night off with were the peppercorn chicken wings, some deep-fried calamari and the imperial rolls.
The chicken wings, in the front of the above picture were buried in an avalanche of roasted garlic and peppercorns. The wings themselves were extra crispy and a little light on the meat but I didn’t care as I found myself devouring mounds of the excess garlic/pepper mixture.
The calamari wasn’t anything to shoot fireworks over but the one bite of the imperial roll was good enough to have me wishing I grabbed more.
After wrapping up the appetizers, the sides started to roll in. Crab fried rice, braised string beans and the absolute must order, the house garlic noodles.
The garlic noodles are thick and soft and covered in the fragrant bulb. While walking through the restaurant, it would be hard to find a table that wasn’t slurping up a bowl.
The green beans were cooked to the perfect firmness.
I didn’t snap a shot of the crab fried rice but fear not – there will be much more crab to come.
We decided to get three different preparations of crab – peppercorn, spicy and roasted garlic.
The peppercorn crab was covered in the same bath of roasted garlic as the chicken wings. The spicy crab had a mild kick to it but wasn’t too much to handle. Both of these crab were flavorful and meaty but the roasted garlic was my hands down favorite. Of the three, it tasted like the meat absorbed more of the seasoning it was cooked in.
Of course, the best part about eating crab is the hands on experience. All the cracking and the digging to extract the last white morsel from the inner depths of the claw grants a sense of accomplishment when the meat finally touches the tongue. The mountains of shell piled up in the bowl, the spent napkins strewn across the table and the used bibs all tell a story of a messy battle with the marine tank. This is a satisfying meal, especially in large groups…but the somewhat barbaric and sloppy eating style might not be ideal first date territory.