Narrowing Down our Chinese Picks in the City...
Three short days there very soon -- I posted earlier and finally read all the recs in detail in the linked, long-responded-to helpful post from a year ago. Must be annoying to always see the same question (like pizza and bagels in NYC)! We have three dinners (one will be at Slanted Door) and two lunches to plan for my SO and me, from NYC. All must, unf, be in SF proper, as zero time to venture out to Millbrae, Berkeley, etc, as have plans in the city each day and night and w/o car.
Staying near C-Town. Want places that are clean (no dives: like to see soap and towels in restroom, sometimes absent in NYC, and I do check out restrooms first when entering a divey-type place!); will spend more if necessary, but of course we love great things at a fair price! Neither of us is a connoisseur of authentic dim sum or Chinese food, neither lived in China, and we don't want pigs' feet or wonderful, but too fatty for us, Peking duck, etc. If it's Californianized, made with more local, fresh ingredients, that's great, so long as it's delicious and brimming with the flavors of China. In NYC we like Grand Szichuan and Sripraphai for Thai, for ex. Less spicy is also highly enjoyed, btw.
So far considering (given our C-Town vicinity out toward GG bridge):
R&G Lounge for Dinner -- loved it upstairs when I lived there in '00; any recent thoughts?
Jai Yun for Dinner -- sounds intriguing w the surprise menus of fresh ingredients
Yank Sing for Dim Sum Sunday
City View -- for its cleanliness and better atmosphere (what I read)?, but is the food great?
Any thoughts on these for 1 Dim Sum, 1 Lunch (or Dim Sum again), 2 Dinners in/ around C-Town/ within a 10 min bus/ cab ride?
It sounds as if Yank Sing will fit the bill for dim sum - and I will confess that I am a fan as well! I would drop Brandy Ho's from the list, though. I went with a group from out of town a few months ago - someone else made the res - and frankly was a bit embarassed. Luckily the out of towners didn't seem to notice! I used to work very nearby and we went regularly for lunch, but a few of our dishes were just plain not good. Of course, I can't recall what they were - partly because one of the out of towners insisted on ordering to suit her dietary restrictions. Come to think of it, that may have been much of the problem, but nonetheless, I was disappointed and wouldn't recommend it.
I think R&G Lounge and Great Eastern would be good picks for in-Chinatown eating that's clean and good cooking.
As for Jai Yun, I recently ate there and it was fun to do a tasting menu where you give up any decision-making to the chef. But I have to say it's not an impressive selection of dishes. The chef has great knife skills so the food is prepared expertly, but the type of dishes are very common. It's not the type you would see at a banquet. To me, it was just a lot of variations of different stir-fries. And you'd think he would buy interesting ingredients from that day's market, but really it was a lot of common vegetables and a variety of tofu types.
Here are photos and explanation of how it works at Jai Yun if you're interested in what the experience is like: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...
I think City View is overrated, but it has its partisans and authentic enough to be fair game for your list. There's been enough said about Yank Sing on this board that you will be walking in (if you do) with your eyes open. I would, however, drop Brandy Ho's, which is little more than a tourist destination. .
Just to make it more complicated for you, I'd add:
Z&Y Garden (Yunnan and Sichuan specialties)
Gold Mountain (dim sum or dinner)
re: Xiao Yang
re: Ruth Lafler
I think Gold Mountain would pass the "no dive" criteria, but Utopia would not.
If you are interested in going out to the Richmond, I would recommend Spices 2 and Panda Country Kitchen (just ate there last night - report soon?)
I also second the Z&Y Garden recommendation.
I also agree that if you loved R&G in 2000, then you'd probably still love it. I wasn't a fan when I went, but we might not have ordered very well.
In all of these places, what you order can highly affect how good/bad the food is....for example, I had one pretty boring meal at Z&Y when we ordered randomly, but when I studied up and focused on the Yunnan and Sichuan dishes, I had a great meal)
Well Jai Yun is small and it looks like it used to be somebody's house, so I suspect it doesn't pass your ambience test. Yank Sang will pass that with flying colors. The question is whether you want to spend a fortune on a nontraditional dim sum which I suspect you would enjoy.
I agree -- I think Yank Sing is perfect for these folks, and being from NY, they probably won't be quite so sticker shocked. The other places I'd recommend would be Great Eastern (but you have to be familiar enough with dim sum to order off a menu) and Louie's (ditto, although they do have some circulating trays).