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Mission Chinese Food Chef Danny Bowien's Chinatown Food Picks

When Mission Chinese Food's chef Danny Bowien walked Eater into ABC Kitchen for some Hainan chicken on Sunday, two older gentleman saw him through the glass window from the street, then they came into the restaurant where we were sitting, and shook his hand. Turns out, they were Danny Ho, the owner of Grandeho's Kameykyo, and Brandon Jew's uncle, who owns the city's two Sunflower Vietnamese restaurants. The two seasoned restaurant owners just wanted to say hello, and talk shop a bit. When they left, Danny smiled, "You know you've made it when they know you in Chinatown." You gotta love this from a guy who tops out lists in Bon Appetit and just spent a day on The Martha Stewart Show in New York. Lucky for us, Danny spent a few hours on Sunday, showing us his favorite Chinatown haunts, and what he likes to order. Check out the stops we made after the hop and find lots of additional tips in the photo gallery captions above.

1) Hing Lung Company (1261 Stockton St.): When it's time for freshly roasted parts of a whole pig, Hing Lung serves up char su pork belly with tender flesh and "shatteringly crisp skin," as Danny puts it. Meats here are roasted in a chamber so that the drippings from the belly roll down the animal to baste it while it cooks. Go for the cheek, says Danny, "it's actually really good."

2) ABC Bakery Cafe (650 Jackson St.): "This is like a Chinese Denny's," says Danny, "but you can get the benchmark of chicken cookery: Hainan chicken." Using a laborious poaching process, a mature bird is cooked until the skin becomes thin, and if you do it right, there will be a thin, clear layer of gelatin right under the skin. "Look for bright yellow colored skin and a red bone and you know you've got a good one." At ABC the dish comes with palate cleansing bland broth, sea scallop dotted rice and a little salty spicy ginger scallion paste for dipping.

3) Sam's (618 Broadway): "They have burgers that remind me of the grilled ones I had in the backyard growing up," says Danny. We've also heard Danny came here with a certain TV star (who shall remain nameless) during a recent SF shoot. The Sam says he went through 150 to 200 burgers per night over the Halloween weekend.

4) Great Eastern (649 Jackson St): This spot is great for dim sum and they also have "nice seafood." Get the cheung fun (rolled and steamed rice noodles), bittermelon and beef dumpling (#41 when we went), and whatever else strikes you.

5) Sam Wo Restaurant (813 Washington St.): Notoriously crap service, dingy atmosphere, and a weird low-ceilinged attic dining area that's open sometimes during the dinner hour and late night. "I only come here after a long night of drinking," says Danny.

6) Pot Sticker (150 Waverly Pl): The chef from Z & Y moved on to Pot Sticker, so this is Danny's go-to for spicy Szechuan food now. He and Anthony Myint used to come here in the early days of Mission Chinese Food for inspiration. Danny recommends the pork intestine, lamb skewers and filet of sole with numbing spicy sauce, if you can handle it.

7) Hing Lung Restaurant (674 Broadway): Go to the restaurant Hing Lung for jook aka congee, alkaline noodles and ginger scallion noodles. Danny gets a Chinese donut to dip in the jook. If they have the ones wrapped in rice noodles, go for the carb-on-carb action. It wasn't there during our trip, but it's Danny's donut of choice.

· All Danny Bowien Coverage [~ ESF ~]
· All Chinese Food Week Coverage [~ ESF ~]