I love seafood. Crab is easily one of my favorites. Growing up, I was able to eat a whole dungeness crab on my own for dinner. My parents used to tell me the story of their first date eating dungeness crab at Pier 39. I guess the crab doesn’t get far from the sea.
There’s a place in San Francisco that serves some of the best prepared dungeness crab and garlic noodles. It’s called PPQ Dungeness Island in the Richmond District. My belly leaves this place completely satisfied every time. I first discovered this restaurant in San Francisco because it was down the street from where Chris lived. For almost three years, we kept saying we were going to try it since we’ve heard such great things about PPQ. Of course the moment Chris moved away from the Richmond (and his garage parking spot), we make plans to go. And we’ve been going back regularly since that first time – hunting for a parking spot every time.
Deep fried goodness. These imperial rolls are crispy fried rolls that are not too oily and a great way to start off your meal. A delicious combination of pork, shredded veggies, and vermicelli. They taste great by themselves or wrapped up in lettuce and dipped in fish sauce.
Soft Shell Crab
Not sure what else to say except deep fried soft shell crab. The picture shows two orders so this is a pretty tiny starter. These are more on the pricey side but they are a great splurge for a once-in-a-while meal. The batter on the soft shell crab is not too thick; it coats just enough to make it crispy on the outside while maintaining the soft crab meat on the inside. The dish is seasoned with only salt and pepper which allows the sweetness of the crab meat to come through. You know they’re using fresh soft shell crab because there’s no other flavors for the crab to hide behind.
Cabbage Salad with Chicken
This is exactly what the name describes but Vietnamese style: a shredded cabbage salad with chicken. The cabbage is shredded into fine thin slivers and tossed with freshly cut mint, red cabbage, carrots, shredded chicken, peanuts, and fried onion bits. I highly recommend this salad because it’s really light and refreshing. It’s a great counter balance to the crab and garlic noodles. One way to think of this salad is that it’s almost like a coleslaw minus the mayo and substitute it with fish sauce.
PPQ’s garlic noodles are to die for. Definitely not a lot of smooching is done after enjoying this dish. When they’re first brought to the table, the aroma just wafts through the air and induces excessive drooling. The taste of fresh roasted garlic and butter are just so homey and comforting. The noodles are cooked al dente giving the dish a great texture; not mushy at all! My favorite thing to do is pour the sauce from the Roasted (Garlic) Crab onto my garlic noodles. It turns into this pasta with a garlic crab sauce. I could eat a whole order of noodles on my own.
Roasted (Garlic) Crab
The menu just calls this the Roasted Crab. My first time here I made sure to ask if this is the one with garlic. This preparation of crab actually has a sauce. Let me warn you: this dish is extremely rich. The crab is slathered in butter and garlic and roasted until cooked so you can only imagine just how buttery the meat is. Though garlic is used, the aroma is not overpowering and very subtle in taste as well. As much as I love the flavor of this crab, the texture can get a little monotonous so it’s important to order other foods to go with this.
A fan favorite. The Peppercorn Crab is prepared by first dredging the crab in flour and then quickly fried. Next, it’s stir fried with coarse ground peppercorn and garlic. This preparation is extremely aromatic. Due to the frying, the meat of the crab is slightly dryer in comparison to the Roasted Crab. By no means does this mean the crab is overly dry. The meat is still succulent and juicy, but the preparation method helps remove some of the moisture from the meat making it taste even sweeter.
PPQ is definitely casual dining. You will see the occasional dressed up parties who are heading out to some type of bar after dinner, but I always come in a t-shirt and sneakers. You’ll be eating with your hands and crab shells will be flying left and right, so wear something you don’t mind getting a little bit dirty. Don’t worry though, PPQ provides those lovely plastic bibs to protect against over zealous crab cracking. The best way to describe this place would be a Vietnamese Boiling Crab, minus the bags the food is served in.
The restaurant has some rooms for private events. They also take reservations and I highly advise this because they get really packed during dinner time, even on weekdays!
I love PPQ. Great fresh seafood for a reasonable price. But be careful when ordering. No doubt, each dish is absolutely delicious, but the tastes and textures can become a little repetitive after a while. It’s best to come with a large group and each person gets a small tasting of each dish. I recommend coming with a group of 4 or more people. One crab feeds about 2 people and the more people you have, the more different preparations you can order. This is a great place for groups of friends to come and catch up because it takes a while to eat crab with all the de-shelling so you’ll have lots of time to talk to each other.
(4 / 5) Rating
(3 / 5) Price
For rating guide, click here.PPQ Dungeness Island
2332 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121