Tammy and I spent an extended weekend in San Francisco for a conference I attended. We had varying experiences of food while we were there, but there was one that stood out so much that we felt it warranted a review in an Oklahoma City review blog. This was Country Sky Chinese Cuisine.
The establishment was just up the block from our hotel, and we came in here on a whim after looking for a Thai restaurant that was closed down across the street. When we walked in to this small establishment we were not impressed at first. Between the size of the place, a loud table in the front, us being cold from the door being propped open on a cold night, and not being able to smell the goodness wafting from the kitchen we thought we were starting off on the wrong foot.
We were sat immediately by a friendly member of the staff, and started looking over the menu. I decided to be different for a change and ordered the Garlic Eggplant for an appetizer. I visioned chunks of eggplant swimming in some kind of oily garlic sauce. For my entree I ordered Szechuan Tofu extra spicy. Tammy ordered Chicken Fried Rice, which is her thermometer for good Chinese, and Green Beans with beef.
My eggplant came out first. I was greeted by an asian eggplant cut in half, then cooked with a dark soy garlic sauce with chunks of garlic floating in it and garnished with scallions. Not something I have seen before at a Chinese restaurant. The eggplant was perfectly cooked. It was firm enough I needed to cut it with a knife but still cooked all the way through. The sauce was thick enough to rest on top of the eggplant and you could taste the soy, garlic, and other flavors throughout. This in itself made this place a favorite memory of San Francisco.
Our entrees came out pretty quickly after I started on my eggplant. I received a large bowl of tofu and vegetables swimming in a spicy dark brown szechuan sauce and a bowl of rice to scoop on my plate. The tofu was just barely cooked and mushy and fell apart. I wish it was fried or cooked better. This was a big disappointment to me. However the flavor of the sauce and the way the vegetables were cooked offset the mushy tofu. The sauce had a profound distinct flavor of toasted sesame oil. After eating all of my eggplant I was not able to eat the whole thing. I boxed up what I didn’t finish with the intentions of eating the rest later on. With no refrigeration in the hotel, this unfortunately got wasted.
Tammy got her chicken fried rice and it was paler than what we normally see it, and she had that disappointed disapproving look in her face that I don’t like seeing, but she decided to give it a taste anyway and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor that came out of it. It was better than any fried rice she had and was amazed by the flavor of the dish. I think usually fried rice is swimming in soy sauce and this didn’t have as much soy sauce that we are used to, so it didn’t look right because of it. There were large chunks of chicken in the dish instead of the tiny little dice that we usually see. When you bite into the meat you actually taste the meat.
The beans she got because of a restaurant we used to go to all the time 13 years ago where they had some really good braised beans in a yummy sauce. These beans she said tasted just like the ones that we had and if the beans had that good char on them they very well could have been the same thing. She really enjoyed the flavor of the beans and beef. What she didn’t finish in the restaurant she finished later. The most disappointing thing to her was because the door was open letting in the cold night air our food got too cold too fast.
Our waitress and all the staff we came in contact with were all very friendly and accommodating to us. I just wish I didn’t have to travel to San Francisco to eat here, or that they delivered all the way here. I am going to try to replicate my food in my own kitchen at home, and since I haven’t yet mastered East Asian cooking I am sure I am going to fail miserably, but I would love to try and try again.
If you travel to San Francisco and plan on being near the Marina or Cow Hollow area and want some good Chinese away from Chinatown, This is the place to be.
Country Sky can be found at:
3321 Steiner St (Just North of Lombard and one block west of Fillmore)
San Francisco, CA 94123