• Reviewed by:   on: 9/28/2012 3:43:00 PM
    Best Chinese food in San Francisco! Fresh ingredients, not too greasy, friendly staff, well decorated, and CHEAP. What more do you want?!
  • Reviewed by:   on: 9/24/2012 1:50:00 PM
    Had take-out from Big Lantern the other day with a friend. They have great deals on lunch specials. We both ordered the Garlic Chicken ($5) which was zucchini stir fried with chicken and served over rice. The order also came with a sweet and sour soup. I love that they offer both white and brown rice, the food was fresh and clean tasting, and the portions are great for the price.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 9/13/2012 12:34:00 AM
    I used to live a block away and so would pick up Big Lantern pretty frequently. It has the best fake meat that I've ever tried (I particularly enjoyed the five-spice sesame meatless chicken). That said, it otherwise is a pretty standard low-end white tablecloth American Chinese restaurant, which I often find somewhat heavy/greasy but oddly tasty and addicting.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 8/15/2012 2:53:00 PM
    I've now been to Big Lantern on at least a dozen occasions -- both for eat-in and take-out -- and my experience with the breadth of its vegetarian dishes is much better and much deeper. I don't take back anything of my previous review (other than the rating), as I acknowledge (both then and now) that my earlier review was premature. That said, I stand by my qualified hesitation regarding the General's Meatless Chicken. I've never gotten it again, and I don't think I ever will. I know now, however, that one can order the General Meatless Chicken without it being deep fried.My favorite dish, bar none, is the Kung Pao Meatless Chicken. It is, in fact, the very best vegetarian kung pao I've had anywhere. Despite my concern about the veggie chicken based on its deep fried preparation, this veggie chicken is amazing. It's delicious. It's wonderful. I love its taste and texture. I've tried it in the kung pao, the basil meatless chicken, and the Mongolian meatless chicken (different kind of meatless chicken, I think). I've also enjoyed the Mongolian meatless beef -- the meatless chicken was better, and the price of the Mongolian meatless beef the most expensive item not on the menu (I think they jack up the price to screw unsuspecting patrons). I've tried the fried rice -- both veggie and meatless chicken (veggie better). Moreover, I've tried some dim sum -- all vegetarian -- the egg rolls, the potstickers, and some of the dumplings.To be sure, I have some reservations about Big Lantern. First, I've found that the food is uniformly better during the week than it is on the weekend. There is a different chef, and the kung pao in particular is not nearly as flavorful Friday-Sunday, as it is on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. That said, when BL is on, it's really quite satisfying. The portions are reasonable; the flavors are vibrant. It's classic Chinese food prepared in a vegetarian way, which is so very difficult to find. The soup (vegetarian wonton) and the dim sum, universally, is just okay. It's well prepared and not greasy, but it also lacks flavor.Overall, with experimentation, one gets a good sense of what's good to order at BL. And, with that, it stands in a class by itself. While I love Golden Lotus/Golden Era, it's Vietnamese, and these Chinese classics are not offered. Oakland now has a place called Nature Vegetarian, which is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, but it just hasn't delivered. While Big Lantern is not a dedicated vegetarian restaurant, it delivers more often than not, with delicious vegetarian chicken (or meatless chicken, as they call it) that brings one back to her Chinese roots.The only other game in town for a good Chinese vegetarian menu (other than Enjoy Vegetarian) is Wild Pepper further down in the Mission. Wild Pepper is good, too, but leans towards the salty side. Between the two, I prefer Big Lantern, although I think that Wild Pepper is probably more artfully prepared.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 8/13/2012 8:22:00 AM
    I LOVED this place! I got the Sesame Meatless Chicken in a lunch special. It didn't say it on the menu, but a lunch special means: the entree, some salad, some veggies (brocolli), rice, and an orange :}. Then they also gave a fortune cookie at the end (even though it tasted quite terrible)! GUESS HOW MUCH I PAID. Over 15% tip..$8.30!! Wth, right?! I was shocked. There was too much food for me to finish, too!! The "chicken" was soo good!! Man, the workers were nice, too. Water was always filled! The Olympics was playing and they didn't rush the customers :}. There was also a menu for Dim Sum with meatless Siu Mais, Meatless BBQ Buns, and some other meatless stuff. What the hell! Where have I been?! I didn't try it, but TRUST ME I'LL BE BACK. *DRool
  • Reviewed by:   on: 7/26/2012 5:02:00 PM
    Big Lantern is a long-term classic favorite special treat among pretty much everyone I know. It might possibly be the best Chinese food on the planet.One day, I drove 40 minutes each way into the city just to find out that Big Lantern was closed for construction. I was absolutely devastated when I saw the sign. Don't worry, though, they re-opened a few months later.It's mixed menu but AMAZING veggie food, extensive selection, savory and delicious. The food is pretty heavy, but in a good way (and sometimes that's exactly what you're looking for, right?)Best dishes: Sesame meatless chicken, any kind of meatless chicken, veggie dumplings, numbing noodles, Singapore style rice noodles, taro puffs, or any and all kinds of veggie dim sum.They have been known to give meat to veggies, though, so watch out. I usually remind them 2-3 times that everything is veggie-only.Also, service is almost always awesome, except when they're super busy (i.e. Pride weekend.) They just started serving soju cocktails, and the drinks are great. But a few weeks ago they wouldn't serve any cocktails because it was too busy; and then today the waitress wasn't sure if they would serve them. If they're listed on the menu they should always be served, no big deal (hopefully that's what will happen in the future.)Big Lantern has grown in popularity over the years, and once in awhile you have to wait for a seat. Lunch is the best time to go.Conclusion: Always order extra food for leftovers :)
  • Reviewed by:   on: 7/15/2012 4:02:00 PM
    If you guys could just quit spilling the sauce all over the place on delivery orders this review would be worth 5 stars. Centuries ago the ancients perfected chinese take-out packaging. Why use shallow plastic containers that poorly contain your delicious sauces?This is my go to spot for chinese delivery. I eat here almost once a week, cheap, convenient and rarely disappoints.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 5/21/2012 3:12:00 AM
    Ordered take out from here. Generally it was pretty good. I wasn't expecting truly authentic Chinese and it wasn't, but it was definitely acceptable for delivery and very good value in terms of portion size.- Mu shu chicken - the filling was very good, but the pancakes were too thick and smelled stale.- Garlic pea shoots - no flavor, very bland. Wouldn't order again.- Mixed veggies - good assortment including corn, zucchini, broccoli, but again not much flavor.- Vegetable dim sum combination - this wasn't what I expected. It turned out to be fake pork buns, fake meat shiu mai, and a vegetable dumpling with very thick glutinous skin. I wouldn't order this again.- Free chicken lo mein (due to order exceeding $30) - this was pretty tasty, and had a nice combination of chicken and broccoli, but it was drenched in soy sauce.Overall $36 before tip. It was delivered in 50 minutes. The portions were very large so it was pretty good value. But the flavor was hit or miss.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 4/5/2012 8:21:00 PM
    I grew up in a vegetarian household eating meatless chicken from Chinese restaurants. Then, one tragic day, my favorite restaurant closed, and from then on out I ordered real meat in Chinese restaurants.Now I'm a meat fiend and will almost always choose the meat over veggie option any day. EXCEPT Big Lantern's meatless chicken. It brings me right back to my childhood. Tasty, fried, slightly chewy goodness!For $23 we got an order of Sesame Meatless Chicken, Lemon Meatless Chicken, and two orders of brown rice. The Lemon Meatless Chicken is quite lemony - they're not messing around.
  • Reviewed by:   on: 4/4/2012 1:16:00 PM
    I used to really like Big Lantern, the food is great and they have a lot of variety. Unfortunately, after many bad experiences (numerous 2 hour delivery times, cold food, and missing items) I can't recommend this restaurant anymore. Which is a shame, because they used to be good.It seems that if the late and cold food is delivered and a customer calls to complain, something should actually be done about it. Unfortunately, when you call Big Lantern to make a complaint or ask for the REST of your food to be delivered, you are just ignored by staff/management.Do yourself a favor, and go to another restaurant that values their customers more.
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