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Apr 22, 2007 11:10 AM

Three Dishes for $15.99 at Yee’s Restaurant (SF Chinatown)

Monday night’s dinner with my parents was at Yee’s Restaurant on Grant Avenue in Chinatown. I was shocked to find it completely full and bustling at 7:30pm. But the seating was just about to turnover and we only waited a few minutes for a table to be cleared for us. While we’ve often stopped here for the tea-time specials or a quick lunch, this was our first dinner time visit. We made our selection from the three dishes for $15.99 menu, which is quite extensive with 59 choices and includes the complimentary house soup of the day.

Wow, and what a wondrous house soup it was made with a type of melon. Being a barbecue house, Yee’s has some mighty fine bones and meat pickings to contribute to the stock pot. After such a full-flavored first sip, my mom and I pulled the tureen closer to us to excavate and examine the contents more carefully. Marinated duck webs, chicken wing bones, swollen pieces of formerly crunchy and bubbled roast pig cracklings, goose neck meat, and other boney spent detritus were deposited on the bottom of the soup tureen, having yielded all their tasty essence to the tawny stock. This also had chunks of long-boiled carrots for sweetness and pieces of chayote-like melon.

Best dish of the three was the salt and pepper flounder. Very salty and bursting with flavor, the pieces of flounder were cross-cut into “sticks” including the bones, skin, roe, and crunchy fins. These had a thin dusting of starch and were toss-cooked with garlic, scallions, and fresh jalapeño chili slices. My parents said they’d never seen flounder presented this way and it was new to me too. But we love fish cooked on the bone and this had a special sweetness staying nice and moist. The flounder bones were easy to remove from these fish “fingers”.

Image of salt & pepper flounder on the bone -

The other two dishes were good enough but not nearly as memorable. Tofu with salted fish and chicken in clay pot was served in a sterile and soulless stainless steel mini-wok rather than in ceramic. But the tofu was very fresh and silky with just a hint of salted fish flavor. Spinach topped with minced beef was a huge amount of spinach, but with too much stringy stems and somewhat tough meat.

Image of the tofu and the spinach dishes -

The rice charge here is only 50¢ per person, bringing our total up to $22 with tax and tip. We took home more than half our food, and the tofu dish was even better after soaking up more of the juices. All in all, a cheap and more than satisfying dinner with some flashes of brilliance, plus enough for another meal. Cash only.

San Francisco Lunch Series chowdown at Yee’s (5/2004) -

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    1. re: Melanie Wong

      The three items for $16.99 is my favorite food trend!! Queen House in Mountain View and New Yong Kang in Fremont deliver fantastic value with their similar "3 fer" menus. The only thing better is the two lobster(ginger and garlic sauce) for $19 bargain at Ocean on Clement.

      1. re: Rockman

        Gosh, it's been ages since I've been to Queen House in Mountain View. What are your favorites from the three-fer menu there?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          It's all fresh and well prepared. Actually, at Queen House you get the 3-fer, plus your choice of steamed rice or scallion pancake. I always get the pancake. I love their beef noodle soup-- the richest broth and hunks of tendony beef, and doughy, homemade noodles.

          1. re: Rockman

            Found my old post on Queen House, October 2003, it has been a long time!

            Hope to hear from others who give Yee's a try. I'll be back to order the fried flounder again, and I'd like some ideas on what else on the menu is worthy.

            1. re: Rockman

              I always wonder if Queen House makes their noodles in-house. Are you sure they do?

              Their beef noodle soup is indeed their best dish. Make sure you spare the extra buck or so to have beef tendon in your noodles as well.

              I am not impressed, however, with their other dishes, and my last experience with their 3-item deal was just so-so. Head to Chef Liu across the street, and their similarly-priced 3-item deal is far superior. Order the clean and tasty smoked tofu mixed stir-fry, and the truly exceptional braised whole tilapia. Their cold wine chicken is downright inedible, but the ants (pork bits) climbing up the trees (mung bean vermicelli) is not bad.


      2. I always enjoy reading your reviews... you make cheap Chinese food sound exciting! By the time I get home, I've forgotten most of the information! I can't get passed, "the food was good, the service was friendly." <sigh>

        1 Reply
        1. re: boltnut55

          Thank you! That's the food speaking, If it's delicious and exciting enough, you'll remember too.

          Wikipedia confirmed that the melon or squash in the soup was indeed chayote. Here's the Cantonese:
          佛手瓜 fut sao gwa, 合掌瓜hup jeung gwa (lit. "closed palms squash"). Yee's called it the latter.

          Cheap Eats @ Yee's -

        2. I have been wanting to get to Yee's Resturant ever since Melanie's post six years ago and yesterday finally was the day. The three-item special is now $16.99 and I ordered two of them and slurped a bowl of goose lai fun (excellent, lots of meat and better meat/bone ratio than duck) while I waited.

          Unfortunately the salt & pepper flounder is no longer on the specials menu, nor are some of the more exotic dishes involving pigeon and goose. But there's still plenty to choose from. Here's what I ordered:

          #13 salt and pepper shrimp. Only dish I didn't like. The shrimp had that sitting-around taste and there weren't very many of them.
          #30 sauteed tripe. Cooked more like a stew with green peppers and onions, this would be a good gateway prep for those who are squeamish about offal.
          #32 Peking spareribs. This was a surprise: the ribs were battered and fried and served with a sweet and sour sauce, so were s&s spareribs without the vegetables.
          #37 boiled chicken special, salt. This was my favorite dish, lots of meaty tender chicken with subtle anise flavor.
          #47 green bean with minced pork. Made with green beans not long beans, and brown sauce. OK.
          #48 garlic bok choy. Good rendition of this classic.

          We got a quart container of soup with each order, so two quarts total. It was very much as Melanie described, a rich poultry broth with some mysterious bits floating in it.

          On the way out the door I decided I needed some duck as well and got half cut up for $7. It was ok, pretty bony though.

          The service was fast and friendly and I enjoyed sitting at the single men's table with my soup while the other items were being prepared. Very happy with Yee's Restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: otis

            Look at that spread! I'm most amused that you had a pre-dinner of roast goose.

          2. Yee's -- still worth checking out?