SF Chinatown Big Chicken Bun Comparison Test (with pictures)
Today, me and my boyfriend finally got around to going to Chinatown in SF early enough to grab some of those Big Chicken Buns (Da Gai Bow 大雞包) that so many people were talking about.
So, for my test, I thought the most I could taste at one time would be three, so I found three that were recommended in the above two thread which are located within walking proximity in Chinatown (within one block of each other actually). Arriving at around 3pm today, there were hoards of people doing their grocery shopping as well as tons of tourists. It was very difficult to find parking, so my boyfriend dropped me off as I began my Big Chicken Bun tour... I basically ran from store to store, navigating between all the tourists busy gazing at all the produce and fresh fish, and all the grocery shopping and yelling people, and all the delivery people pushing stuff around. It is no easy task, mind you, but I managed to get to all three stores within 10 mins. Pictures are in the order as follows...
1) Gourmet Kitchen
1051 Stockton St. (between Jackson & Washington)
2) Yun Kee (容記) - note that there's actually no English sign at the store
732 Jackson St. (between Grant & Stockton)
3) New Wing Sing (新永勝)
1125 Stockton St. (between Jackson and Pacific)
All three big chicken buns looks pretty similar on the outside, big, white, monster-sized buns as you can see from the pictures. Both Yun Kee and New Wing Sing ones cost $1.10 while the one from Gourmet Kitchen costs $0.80 (and I think it's also two for $1.20), the lady there actually just sold me one for $0.60. I was quite curious why there was such a big price differential and the picture became clear once I got home and cut these buns open. The ones from Yun Kee and New Wing Sing are very similar, with a good amount of filling, chunks of chicken meat, chinese sausage, mushroom, hardboiled egg and a little bit of cilantro (I think that's what it is). The one from Gourmet Kitchen actually was quite different, it's more like a regular meat bun than a Big Chicken Bun, minced (or rather, shredded) chicken with cabbage and some mushrooms, but no sausage found.
Tastewise, the Gourmet Kitchen bun is very light in flavor and would do for a lighter snack, but the chicken was too shredded to really satisfy my craving for a Big Chicken Bun. Notice that the meat from the New Wing Sing bun is in larger chunks and definitely more flavorful chunk than the Yun Kee one, but I think they stand up to each other in comparison, it's more of a subjective flavor preference. One thing that stood out for me is that the actually bun portion of the one from New Wing Sing was delightfully fluffy and complemented its filling very well. If I were to rank these three, it would be New Wing Sing > Yun Kee > Gourmet Kitchen (although $0.60 is a very good bang for the buck, so if I ever get so poor, I might go for the Gourmet Kitchen version).
For reference and where I got my recommendations:
This is the thread mostly about the Big Chicken Buns in the Clement St. area (April 2007)
This is the thread from last year about them in general (October 2006
I do agree with your list, in fact I am three take out places from completing my list.
Gourmet Kitchen does have a large combination bun like New Wing Sing they a smaller and a larger verison.
Here are my list of four
1. Wing Lee on Clement
2. New Wing Sing
3, Gourmet Kitchen
4. Yun Kee
More to follow.
Thanks for join this quest.
I was focusing more on the BIG chicken buns because somehow I thought they were more intriguing to me. Couldn't quite understand, does Gourmet Kitchen have something else that's closer to what the other stores have in terms of big chicken buns? I ordered the same way in Chinese at all three stores expecting them to be similar.
yimster, is your list in order of preference? I haven't had time to head all the way out to Clement, but I'd be up to tasting some of the buns out there one of these days and see how they compare with the ones in Chinatown. I'll probably also try to find some in Oakland Chinatown one of these days. However, keep us posted yimster!
I'm sort of confused, and am wondering whether the 容記 (Yong Kee) on Jackson that I went to is the same as Yun Kee that people are talking about? Somehow I forgot the address when I was there, so I assumed since the pronunciation is similar, it should be the same, or maybe I am mistaken??