San Francisco, CA

Where to Eat Authentic Sichuan Food around the Castro

Brandon Wang

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The Castro is a neighborhood in San Francisco that is most well known for its gay culture. The area is rich with popular bars and has an above average number of adult shops as well. In addition, the Castro is home to the GLBT Historical Society Museum which is the original and very first collection of solely gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history. While the Castro is a very lively neighborhood and has quite a few great restaurants, it may not be your first go to for Sichuan food. Suprisingly, one of the most authentic and delicious Sichuan restaurants can be found around the Castro at the restaurant called Mama Ji's.

Mama Ji's originally started in the city of San Francisco as a pop up establishment and was eventually popular enough to warrant a full restaurant. The restaurant is named after Lili Ji who has worked together with her husband to run one of the most successful Chinese restaurants in the Castro. Lili Ji originally was raised in Guangzhou in the Sichuan province of China which has had a very strong influence over the food found at Mama Ji's.

All of the Sichuan items on the menu are definitely on the spicier side which is a very distinctive feature of Sichuan cuisine. The most popular items on the menu include the Chongqing spicy chicken, fish braised in chili bean sauce, and silky tofu with beef. While all being staples in Sichuan cuisine, these menu items are all executed near perfectly at Mama Ji's and will leave your mouth feeling numb and begging for more.

In addition to the plethora of mouthwatering Sichuan food choices on the menu, Mama Ji's also offers a suprising variety of dim sum options as well. Some of the more popular dim sum items on the menu include the sesame balls, glutinous rice with Chinese sausage, and the soup dumplings which while are Shanghainese are just as delicious as many of the Sichuan food items. For the vegetarians, there is also a vegan steamed bun that has some of the most delicious tofu filling and will definitely suprise you with the amount of flavor.

Recently, Mama Ji's has also gotten their hands on a license to serve beer and wine. Currently, their drink selection may be a little limited but has very quality options despite the small size.

Mama Ji's can be found located at 4416 18th St.

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