Z & Y and Spices II: report
Thanks to the SF Board, I had some Chinese treats in your lovely city.
Z & Y: Thanks for warning me that the sign says Sam Lok! I had the best dish of the weekend there, specifically recommended by a poster: Tan Tan (Dan Dan) Noodles: first they steam up your glasses, then they glide down your throat, rich and flavorful. The heat mounts and your whole being is focused on that bowl of cilantro, garlic, pork and chili flavored noodles, making you sweat and moan: a near-religious experience.
While not spectacular, the salt and pepper chicken was the best fried chicken pieces ever, once I realised that all they needed was a little Chinese vinegar sprinkled on them.
Lunch at Z & Y the next day was not so good: pork kidneys with numbing spice had scarcely any Szechuan peppercorns, and didn't tase very meaty. Yunnan fried potatoes lacked flavor. Baby bok choy was itself, which was good. The Chines bacon with leeks was a tasty addition. I feel I need to learn the menu, as clearly some things are spectacular; or maybe my companions at lunch looked too American to accept flavor?
Spices II: Cumin Lamb was the standout, with slices of lamb fried with the cumin and chili peppers and cilantro. Then came Mapo Dofu, a very pleasant rendition. "Numbing seaweed" was very mildly spiced. Last was the Dan Dan Noodles, luke warm, hardly spicy and with lots of vinegar for some reason. In general the spicing was hardly Szechuan: if you like it hot, go for the 3 stars or tell them. But I'd rather have one spectacular dish than a lot of average ones, so this was worth the trip too.