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Asian foods in downtown Mountain View - nearly two dozen places to eat and shop.

An array of authentic Asian cuisines--from Cantonese, Mandarin, and Mongolian to Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese--awaits diners in downtown Mountain View. Within a 4-square-block area around Castro Street, you'll find 18 Asian restaurants and one bakery; five of the eateries serve dim sum (Chinese steamed buns, dumplings, and other sweet and savory bite-size delicacies). Three nearby markets are packed ceiling-high with all kinds of Asian specialty foods and spices. This ethnic enclave on the San Francisco Peninsula is an easy detour off U.S. 101.

At first glance, Mountain View seems hardly the place where so many Asian restaurants would prosper. But the city's Asian population shot from 5.6 percent in 1970 to 10.6 percent in 1980. As people from Taiwan and Hong Kong moved (often via San Francisco) to suburban Silicon Valley, restaurants sprang up to accommodate them.

Walk down the sidewalks of recently spruced-up Castro Street and you'll see the Asian influence: three martial arts studios, two Asian furniture stores, two acupuncture clinics, and two video rental stores offering the latest Hong Kong and Taiwan kung fu thrillers.

Seafood reigns supreme on Castro Street, especially Cantonese seafood. Chefs often keep live fish and shellfish in tanks in the restaurant, then steam or fry them with garlic, scallions, and mild seasonings.

You'll find good quality at most of these restaurants, but decor is usually minimal. Intense competition, moderate prices, and a large and discriminating Asian clientele keep the chefs from Americanizing the cuisine. A lunch or dinner for two (soup, rice, and two entrees) averages about $15. Set lunches run $3 to $4.15 per person, dinners $5 to $10 per person. Most restaurants offer special prices for large groups.

To reach Castro Street from U.S. 101 (Bayshore Freeway), exit west on Moffett Boulevard and go about 1 mile, crossing Central Expressway, to Castro Street. There's free 2-hour parking in lots off Hope and Bryant streets, parallel to and one block on either side of Castro. 18 options for lunch or dinner

We group the restaurants by cuisine and mention their highlights. Most are open weekdays for both lunch and dinner, and weekends for dinner--it's best to call for hours. All telephone numbers are area code 415. The most popular places are packed at lunchtime on weekdays and on weekend nights. All the restaurants have take-out service. Cantonese

Chopsticks Seafood Restaurant, 360 Castro Street; 969-0500. Entrees run from sauteed conch with Chinese green to shredded roast duck with jellyfish. Dim sum served 11:30 to 2 on weekends.

Hong Kong Chinese Bakery, 210 Castro; 969-3153. Open 9:30 to 7:30 daily (until 8 Fridays and Saturdays). Exotic delights include Chinese bride's cake (winter melon cookie) and lotus seed paste moon cake. It also sells steamed pork buns. Just two small tables.

Kirin Chinese Restaurant, 485 Castro; 965-1059. Four tanks hold live crab, eels, fish, lobster, and soft-shell turtles, waiting to be transformed into delectable dishes.

Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant, 210 Hope Street; 961-3500.

Mui Kiang Restaurant, 895 Villa Street; 969-8232. Elegant, recently remodeled. Most dishes are Cantonese, but it also features some saltier Hakka-style cookery. Traditional Hakka dishes include salt-baked chicken and baked, stuffed oysters. More exotic are sauteed horseshoe clams with duck feet. Dim sum served weekends 11 to 2.

Pearl River Seafood Restaurant, 246 Castro; 967-1689. Streetfront review clippings explain why seafood lovers pack in like sardines. Extensive menu includes braised whole rock cod, steamed prawns in garlic sauce, and duck with taro in clay pot (one of many country-style pot dishes).

Qui Hing Low, 134 Castro; 967-2476.

Yu Fung Seafood Restaurant, 156 Castro; 969-9494. Serves just about anything that lives in the sea, from abalone to squid. For dessert, try the baked tapioca pudding. Cantonese and Mandarin

Andy's Chinese Restaurant, 174 Castro; 968-9494. Under new management, Andy's now offers a dozen kinds of dim sum daily ($1 to $1.35 per plate).

Cho's Mandarin Dim Sum, 273 Castro; 965-1157. Serves 11 different kinds of dim sum; 30 to 75 cents per item. You can also buy items frozen for heating up at home.

House of China Restaurant, 102 Castro; 961-7347. Try the dark, rich duck smoked with camphor wood and tea. Plates and bowls are plastic, but food is authentic.

House of Yee Restaurant, 160 Castro; 961-9694. You'll find a more subdued atmosphere than in most Chinese restaurants. For the gan saw whole fish, the waiter will kindly behead it if you like. Dim sum served weekends 11 to 2. Mongolian

Colonel Lee's Mongolian Bar-B-Q, 304 Castro; 968-0381. Mongolian barbecuing with a Taiwanese accent. Choose from a table of assorted meats (beef, chicken, lamb, pork) and six sauces, then watch the chef grill it. All-you-can-eat dinner costs $6.55. Japanese

Kyo Restaurant, 867 W. Dana Street; 969-2241. Standard Japanese fare.

Sumi Restaurant, 635 W. Dana; 961-1982. Cozy neighborhood sushi bar with large clientele of regulars.

Tokyo House Teriyaki Seafood Restaurant, 124 Castro; 968-8519. The Friday and Saturday sushi special is authentic and economical. Some other dishes are Americanized.

Yakko Restaurant, 975 W. Dana; 960-0626. Choose from eight kinds of sushi and five kinds of donburi (one-bowl meals of rice, meat, vegetables). Thai

Bangkok Spoon, 702 Villa; 968-2038. Sensuous curries, soups. House specialty is peek gai yud sai (chicken wings stuffed with pork, cabbage, celery, and onions). Quiet atmosphere. Vietnamese

Mekong Vietnam Restaurant, 288 Castro; 968-2604. Proprietor is a former vice-premier of the Republic of Vietnam. Try unusual spicy beef (bo nho) appetizers: beef wrapped in grape leaves with wine sauce. Asian grocery shopping

These three nearby markets stock hard-to-find ingredients for Asian recipes, including many of those in Sunset's report on Southeast Asian cuisines (see page 126). The first two also sell Chinese baked goods and dim sum (fresh and/or frozen).

Dana Oriental Grocery, 743 W. Dana; 969-2034; open 10 to 7 Mondays through Saturdays, 11 to 6 Sundays. Look here for fresh baked goods, frozen chicken feet and fish, Japanese teas.

Easy Foods Company, Castro and W. Dana streets; 969-5595; open 10:30 to 6:30 Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 Sundays. Fresh Chinese vegetables, roast duck; rice paper, woks.

S&D Oriental Market, 400G Moffett Boulevard (in Moffett Plaza, 2 blocks north of Castro); 964-5080; open 8 to 7 daily. Filipino specialties.
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Date:Apr 1, 1984
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