Hunanese cuisine may have once taken a backseat to the Bay Area's roster of Chinese spots, so it’s no wonder that this snug gem has attracted many a local and curious palate. Try to snag one of the beautifully carved booths in the back—then you'll be privy to the goings-on in the kitchen. Settle in and begin to peruse the menu of specialties.
Boldly flavored dishes incorporate oodles of smoked, cured and fermented ingredients—from the bacon-like pork wok-tossed with leeks, garlic and soy, to the pungent pork, black bean and pickled chili mixture that tops a mound of spicy, hand-cut godfather’s noodles. That whole chili-braised fish, bright and flaky in its bath of red chili sauce flecked with scallions and garlic, is an absolute must.