Tucked into a small corner on Irving Street, San Francisco, lies one of the best fried chicken places I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. Evident by the crowds that swarm the storefront during lunch and dinner times, San Tung is unbeatable in its northern Chinese cuisine.

The Inspiration Behind Our Visit

For the past year, my roommate had been telling tall tales about the most legendary fried chicken she had ever tasted. I was skeptical, as I heard too many of those claims to count. While she was waxing poetic about the dish and its savory sauce, she could not remember the name of the renowned restaurant she had eaten at. Disappointed, I resigned myself to never being able to taste the famous dish myself.

Despite this initial setback, I was blessed a couple months later with a video that came up when I was scrolling on Tiktok. A couple of food influencers had visited a fantastic restaurant that checked all the boxes. Bomb dry-fried chicken? Check. Served tossed in a delicious sweet-savory sauce? Check again. Lo and behold, my friend joyfully confirmed that it was indeed the place I was dreaming of.

Our Experience

As we approached Irving Street, our anticipation grew—until we witnessed the wild throng of patrons ourselves. Within the restaurant, there was a flurry of activity—waitresses carrying trays of food out to waiting diners, and the host seating parties with superhuman speed. Many parties had given up being seated and had left prematurely. However, my roommate and I were determined not to leave until we had a taste of that chicken.

#SpoonTip: Order takeout via the phone to skip the line!

Once seated and given the customary tea, we proceeded to order their house specials: the dry-fried chicken and the black bean sauce noodles. Despite the avalanche of orders the kitchen received, service was lightning quick and we received our food in record time.

Each chicken wing had been fried to absolute perfection, harboring a melodic crunch and glistening with the spicy, peppery ginger and garlic sauce. Once past the crispy fried exterior, the steaming meat inside was tender and delicious. Paired with fluffy white rice to offset the intense flavor, the combination was a match made in heaven.

When all that remained were the stripped-clean bones, we then turned to our second course, the noodles. The homemade noodles were topped with succulent beef and shrimp. Covered in a rich black bean sauce, it made for a luxurious experience. The dish was garnished with long strips of cucumber, and its freshness balanced out perfectly with the hearty noodles. It was gone before we knew it. Satiated, we left the restaurant happy and unbearably full.

San Tung is a no-frills restaurant that offers the best of the best, and is an absolute must when visiting San Francisco, or anywhere in the area. When it comes to fried chicken, it’s hard to find a competitor that does it better.

#SpoonTip: If you’re craving something sweet for dessert after, Holy Gelato! is just minutes away. Their delectable black sesame and lychee gelato is to die for.