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!