What would Yao eat? That's Yao Ming, the hella lanky Houston Rockets center, who dribbles chili oil and black vinegar on northern Chinese dishes like fennel dumplings and meat pancakes at a Mission Terrace hole in the wall -- or so we like to think. According to Yelp legend, the Shanghai native is so crazy about tiny Beijing Restaurant (1801 Alemany at Ocean) that his limo makes the long, slow crawl out whenever he's in town -- though no one in the place could tell resident food critic Meredith Brody precisely what Yao allegedly likes. No worries. Tomorrow in SF Weekly, Brody drives the lane through Beijing's Sichuan and Cantonese clichés, discovering a roster of not-so-common dishes worth the trip, even if you're rocking a mere Hyundai. Which ones are slam dunks? Find out later today at SFWeekly.com. Need a hint? Glean a preview in SFoodie's extended excerpt (after the jump).
The little building at the corner of Alemany Boulevard and Ocean Avenue has housed a number of restaurants over the years, none of them a destination for anyone outside the immediate neighborhood. But at the beginning of this year, fresh paint was applied outside (brick red) and in (creamy yellow), and new signs were hung, proclaiming the new occupants to be Beijing Restaurant.... The Beijing Special section is where you'll find unusual dishes that may require explanation -- such as egg surfaced three flavors, which turned out to be tofu coated with egg, mixed with shrimp and bits of chicken and pork; or the differences among house special steam meatball, jiao liu meatball Beijing style, or sweet and sour meatball. The specials also include hot and sour potatoes and stir-fried potatoes with chile (how often do you see potatoes on a Chinese menu?); another potato dish, shredded potatoes with hot oil, is hiding in the appetizers among the more pedestrian egg rolls and chicken wings. An entire section of the menu is devoted to "stirred flour balls," another dish we'd never heard of.