New Lun Ting Cafe: An Ode to my Father

I took some time off from writing for the past month after my father passed away. It was a much needed break. This post is dedicated to my dad who was born and raised in San Francisco. He was a product of San Francisco Chinatown. He worked and retired from the U.S. Postal Service. The route he was most proud to deliver mail to were the offices in the Transamerica Pyramid in the Financial District, a few blocks down from Chinatown.

My dad’s old watering hole was a dive bar called Red’s Place on Jackson Street in San Francisco Chinatown. I have never been to Red’s Place, but I am definitely curious and want to check out the scene one day. Right next door is New Lun Ting Cafe, a Chinese American restaurant that has been open since 1909, where my dad used to eat.
A few days after my dad passed away, my sister and I had lunch at New Lun Ting Cafe. The small restaurant seats patrons at three tables, four booths, and a countertop. We sat at one of the booths with red pleather benches. My attention was fixated at the older Chinese men who would drop in alone and plop themselves at a seat at the countertop.

We each ordered a rice plate which comes with a cup of vegetable soup and your choice of coffee or tea. I felt nostalgic like I was in an old diner pouring cream from the metal dispenser into my thick ceramic mug of coffee. I imagine my dad having multiple refills of coffee when he was here.

It was a busy lunch hour and our waitress thanked us for our patience. She brought us each a large potsticker on the house as an appetizer. I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was. The potsticker was nicely browned with a crisp and chewy skin and a juicy meaty filling.

One of our rice plates we ordered was oxtail stew. I love the Chinese American preparation of oxtail cooked with carrots in a tomato based gravy.

Our other rice plate was minced beef with peas and a raw egg in the center. It might not sound or look all that appealing, but when you mix it into the hot rice, it’s delicious and comforting. This is a plate my dad introduced me to when I was a kid.

Being one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco Chinatown, New Lun Ting Cafe is no doubt filled with lots of history as well as memories. I will keep the memories of my father in my heart. Rest in Peace, dad!


8 thoughts on “New Lun Ting Cafe: An Ode to my Father

  1. This oxtail stew reminds me my dad’s famous stew. These old ‘diner’ style restaurants with simple but tasty plates and affordable prices are rare these days, especially in one of the most expensive cities in the US. What a gem…your visit would have made your dad smile. ☺

  2. my uncle red was the owner of reds bar then uncle harry his son took over. then they sold it to Koreans. I remember the place well .. thx for your ode to your dD. RIP

  3. I can totally relate to your tribute to your dad. I grew up in Chinatown and Lun Ting was one of the places I used to have lunch with my father and uncle and all their old buddies. We used to call it the “pork chop” house. Just one of the great memories from Chinatown. Thank you for sharing and the great photos.

  4. Thanks for sharing your homage to
    your Dad and the Pork Chop House.
    Well written and heartfelt. I’m a
    retired P. O. worker as well. Cheers.

  5. Growing up in SF Chinatown, my dad would take my sister, brother and me to the “Pork Chop House” every other Sundays to have either the beef tongue, roast pork, oxtail stew, or chicken ala king over rice. We usually sat at the center booths. I remember we would always ask for more of the orange colored gravy and the waiter would bring us a coffee cup filled to the brim with it. OMG – Heaven! While my dad was chatting away with his buddies or reading the chinese newspaper (Gum Saan See Bao), we would be enjoying our meals smothered in orange gravy. After our meals, we would get dessert which was jello and milk. Yummmmmmm! Great memories there! Besides the Pork Chop House, the other restaurant I really enjoyed eating at was Sun Wah Kue on Washington St. They had the best apple pie, orange pie, sugar donuts, waffles, etc…… Thanks for sharing!

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