Teo Restaurant & Bar

Remember when “going out for Chinese” meant a Cantonese egg roll, wonton soup and egg fu yung? Then came the hot spice of Hunan and hotter, spicier Sichuan.

Now, there’s another province heard from. Teo (pronounced tee-oh) brings Chaozhou to San Francisco. Chaozhou, a.k.a. Teo Chew, is southern cuisine featuring marinated meats and and seafood rather than spices. The ingredients and the tastes are unexpected.

The unexpected begins with the décor; it’s more Japanese than traditional Chinese: clean, straight lines rather than curves and carves, blues and grays instead of red and gold, spare symmetry trumping decorative abundance.

One unexpected bonus — Teo is much quieter than most San Francisco restaurants. Thank you for that.

Service is cheerful, portions are ample, prices are reasonable, the food is … unexciting.

My favorite dish is the $14 marinated goose meat appetizer. The sauces enhance the mild-tasting meat and tofu slices. Without their sauces, the $6 fried shrimp balls would have almost no flavor, certainly none of shrimp. The $7 carrot and scallop soup tastes more like wonton than scallop; it’s pleasant though bland.

Teo’s $17 oyster and egg omelet is the Chaozhou version of California’s Hangtown Fry. The ingredients are fresh and nicely prepared; the flavor is unexciting. The same can be said for the desserts.

So. To try something new, at a price that won’t break the bank, in a room that won’t rupture your eardrums, with tastes that won’t set your ganglions jangling, by all means give Teo a go.

1111 Mission Street, San Francisco. Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 2 p.m. Dinner nightly from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Weekday Happy Hour from 5 to 6 p.m. Web address is www.TeoSF.com. Phone (415) 626-8366.

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