Expand your horizons with these variations on Chinese food in San Francisco

Outside of China, Chinese food ventures far beyond Americanized dishes like chop suey and General Tso’s Chicken. This remarkably versatile cuisine – born of centuries of immigration, persecution, and scarcity – has been reinvented repeatedly as required by custom and circumstance. Here we explore the history of three very different cultural takes on Chinese food, and where you can find them in the Bay Area.

A few featured dishes of Red Hot Chilli Pepper restaurant in San Carlos, Hakka noodles, left, gobi manchurian, center, and spicy paneer, right.

A few featured dishes of Red Hot Chilli Pepper restaurant in San Carlos, Hakka noodles, left, gobi manchurian, center, and spicy paneer, right.

Nicola R Parisi/Nicola Parisi

For Mission resident Saptarshi Guha, who developed his palate in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), Chinese food means gobi Manchurian: deep-fried cauliflower florets draped lightly in a spicy, tangy sauce. “It is an adored dish, and it absolutely must be crispy. That is rule number one,” he explained. “If you stop at one bite, that is not good.”

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At Brooklyn’s BUKA, Nigerian Authenticity Is On the Menu



a bunch of different types of food on a table: At Brooklyn's BUKA, Nigerian Authenticity Is On the Menu


© Joy Nnenna/Shutterstock
At Brooklyn’s BUKA, Nigerian Authenticity Is On the Menu

This story is part of an ongoing series in honor of Black History Month on the diversity, roots and evolution of Black cooking and cuisine in America.

If ever there was evidence that West African food is hitting the mainstream in America, it’s the fact that fufu videos are blowing up on Tik Tok. A staple throughout countries like Ghana and Nigeria, fufu — which means mash or mix — is a stretchy, doughy food made from boiled and pounded starch like yam, plantains or cassava.

But for Lookman Afolayan, chef and owner of BUKA in Brooklyn, New York, West African cuisine isn’t some trend to be chased. The 53-year-old Nigeria-born chef opened his restaurant in 2009, well before there was Tik Tok. For him, the food of his homeland is like music.

“Do you see the

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Two thousand prisoners a year to train as chefs in plans to cut reoffending by 32 per cent

The concept – where inmates are trained to get NVQ qualifications in cooking and food hygiene – has already seen criminals graduate into jobs as chefs at five-star hotels and leading restaurants. The Clink has 280 employers including pubs, restaurants and hotels ready to take trained ex-offenders.

Nicky, 55, a prisoner who trained at The Clink in High Down, now works as a commis chef at a four-star hotel. “When I ended up in prison I thought my life was over. It was this amazing charity that built up my self-esteem and a new zest for life,” she said.

Lucy Frazer, prisons minister, said: “Cutting reoffending and its vast cost to society is a priority for this Government. Training within prison leads to employment on release, which we know has such a positive impact on ex-offenders, their families and communities, and ultimately reduces crime.”

Chris Moore, The Clink’s chief executive,

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