Wow, this is weird. I've been to Z & Y twice since they reopened and happened to order those two dishes previously mentioned, the dan dan mien and beef stew noodle soup, since they are old staples. The beef in the spicy stew was a quite generous portion, and except for maybe 1 or 2 pieces, definitely good, all in all, not the least bit tough. The dan dan mien was served with sesame paste and the thick noodles, and seemed to be about as good as I remembered from before the re-model. I wonder what they're playing at with the thin noodles that David mentioned...
The inconsistency here is more than a little disconcerting.
I had the spicy beef stew noodle soup at Sam Lock last week. The noodles were too soft, and virtually bland and tasteless. Most of the beef chunks were really tough to the point of being unchewable. The stew did have some shreds of picked cabbage and a few pieces of napa cabbage, which were tasty, but all in all lacked the complexity of a good Chinese stewed beef ngau nam dish (though I did detect star anise). Given the report below about the dan dan mien, maybe this place is on a downhill slide.
The dining room is very tired and musty - but I wouldn't care about this if the chow was good.
Went yesterday for lunch and was disappointed. The dan dan mien were made, for the first time, with thin noodles -- maybe as thin as 1/16", essentially vermicelli. The dish came steaming hot, which meant that the noodles at the bottom kept cooking, and a few minutes later the bottom noodles were a clumped gummy mass. So much of the pleasure of this dish for me comes from the thick, chewy noodles, and yesterday's version was awful. Z & Y's dan dan mien roulette isn't such a fun game anymore.
I mentioned to the waiter (the very nice older man with missing teeth, who always remembers me and my obsession with dan dan mien) that the noodles were smaller than usual. I tried not to sound too disappointed, but he picked right up on it and came back a couple minutes later to say the chef would make another bowl for us. I assumed that meant with thick noodles, but the second bowl came out with the same very thin noodles. Then, thinking that my comment that "the noodles were small" might have been taken as a comment on the portion, not the noodle thickness, I clarified, but he said he understood I was commenting on the noodle thickness. I was therefore totally puzzled why he offered us a second bowl of the very same dish. A sweet gesture, on his part. But bad noodles.
Was there yesterday for lunch. Same menu, same staff, same decor.
Played dan dan mien roulette -- every time it's somewhat different, though almost always very good. Yesterday there was no sesame paste in the dan dan mien, just ground pork, sesame seeds, and lots of chili oil, with chopped cilantro and green onions. I like the taste when the sesame paste is added, though it sometimes makes for a clumpy texture, so it was nice to try it without sesame paste.
And the cumin beef sticks were great -- nice balance of cumin, cilantro, and heat.