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Yank Sing Mediocre at Best

After reading many posts I decided to try out Yank Sing on Stevenson during my visit to SF. I have only eaten dimsum in the US, but I have eaten at Eilte and many random places in los angeles and new york. And Yank Sing was disappointingly mediocre. The selection was average - really all I saw was the typical hargow, pork bao, fried shrimp stuff- they served this scallop thing with DONKATSU sauce, and they charged 2 bucks a head for some plain old tea. We got 4 things - so little because we decided to go somewhere else - and it was 35 bucks.

Maybe I should have re-evaluated when I saw there were no Chinese, not even Asian, people there. Even going to Jing Fong in New York, which puts copious amounts of MSG in everything, is a much more fun and interesting experience than Yang Sing eating. The drab SF downtown backdrop made it worse. I believe going to colorful Chinatown would have been more enjoyable, considering that the atmosphere is livelier, the tea free, the flavors the same, and the bill half of Yank Sing's.

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  1. That's strange, I've always seen a larger selection of items there than at most places. This was a weekday or a weekend?

    1. Hard to say what you would have thought of the chinatown places. Maybe you can try one or two of the standards and report back? Certainly, as you say, the atmosphere's different in chinatown.

      Sad that the most recommendable places are pretty far outside town.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        During dim sum hours, Chinatown restaurants like other dim sum houses charge from 75ยข to $1 per person for tea, even if you order the plain ol' jasmine. Dol Ho does not, but it's one of the few exceptions.

          1. re: kristianbakes

            I agree. I have always thought Yang Sing was way overrated. The food is okay, the location is nice and clean but I only eat there on an expense account so I don't feel ripped off. There are a lot more affordable places in the city that do a better job with dim sum.

      2. Is the Stevenson location the main location in the former post office, or the "take out-luncheon location" with the outdoor tables??? If it is the outdoor/luncheon location...do they make the dim sum there, or shlep it from the main location...???

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          Neither, 49 Stevenson is an indoor restaurant around the corner from the crappy takeout counter.

          The food's all made on-site at both locations. I find the food identical, and reliably good, though I don't order any of the things the original poster did.

          As long as we're on the subject, East Ocean in Alameda seems to have pretty much the same menu (including the wide variety of items kristianbakes somehow wasn't offered) at much lower prices.

          East Ocean Seafood
          1713 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

        2. The only times I have eaten at YS is on someone else's dime (my manager or someone w/ a company expense account). While the food is ok I just can't seem to bring my self to spend that kind of money on dim sum. I look at dim sum as snack food. It will not make you full. You really suffer from sticker shock at YS.

          2 Replies
          1. re: asianstamp

            While I totally agree on the high price point at YS, I am stunned at your assertion that a dim sum meal will not make you full. That's just preposterous. I have had hundreds of dim sum lunches in my life and each and everytime i have been sated. If I feel hungry, a char siu bao or two solves that problem.

            1. re: PeterL

              Plus one on that. They bring food as fast as you want, until you say stop.Everywhere around here, they will bring it faster than you can possibly. If you see it as a snack and eat slowly, that's up to you - I find it hard; everything's so tasty

          2. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy Yank Sing; I always go to the Rincon Center one at 101 Spear (near Mission, near Ferry Bldg.) I usually see Chinese patrons and there is more variety on the weekends -- if I want something and don't see it going by on a cart, I just ask the server and they get it for me.

            1. Never tried the dim sum.I've only been there once, for a wedding dinner. The dinner was such a feast and everything was incredibly good. I still think about that meal.

              1. I've only been to Yank Sing at Rincon Centre. Agree it's not cheap, but Yank Sing is my fave dim sum restaurant in SF - great central location (especially), very good service, good choice of dim sum. Other than the char-siew bao's stodgy dough, other items are as good as those in HK or Singapore.

                2 Replies
                1. re: klyeoh

                  I agree. Yank Sing has excellent FOOD. Their XLB and honey glazed sea bass are super! I haven't had better dim sum (<-- flame bait), and I eat a good amount of dim sum having a Chinese girlfriend. Well balanced, well prepared, fresh ingredients. Now if it's worth the price is an entirely different question. Be honest with yourself: if you were blind to the price, could you really call it mediocre at best? Every sharply negative review I see of YS comes with a tirade about the cost.

                  Oh, and then there's the "totally unauthentic flavors catered to white people/tourists." Do people really think their har gau or siu mai tastes drastically different from any other dim sum place they've eaten? To me it has the same basic flavor profile, just well-executed.

                  1. re: kimchee411

                    No flame from me since I agree. I like YS a lot.

                    There are so many inaccuracies in the original post that I just have to comment.

                    It is fine if you don't like Yank Sing. People have different tastes. YS is always controversial.

                    I was at YS a few weeks ago and we had way more than 4 dishes and didn't spend $35. It depends on the dishes you order and if you are ordering simple dishes as you said, you are not paying $35.

                    Yank Sing, according to their website has 100 dim sum dishes in their repetoire, 60 of which are available daily

                    I agree with steve h that on all my visitis over a few decades of eating there, "asian families outnumber folk of european descent by a small margin"

                    Is that a bad thing? No. I'll tell you why not.

                    As a non-Asian, they are one of the few Asian places that dont require a secret hand shake and treat Asians and non Asians alike. They don't treat me like they don't want my business. On one trip where I had a guest who embarrassed me with his atrocious behaviour, they were kinder to him than I ever would have been.

                    That being said, it depends on when you went to the Stevenson location. This is the heart of the financial district and a lot of office workers go here for lunch. So sure, during the week, it is very probable there were a lot of non Asian customers.

                    Shocking ... scallop thing with DONKATSU sauce

                    Maybe if you stayed a little longer, you would have a better perception of the restaurant.

                    Not that I place a big value on such things, but they did win a 2009 James Beard award.

                    I just don't want people to miss out on a great experience. If you are looking for free tea, minimal decor and bargain-basement prices ... you are right ... Yank Sing is not the place to go.

                2. i like yank sing.

                  sunday at the rincon center is one of the best ways to enjoy a late morning meal. my non-scientific survey says asian families outnumber folk of european descent by a small margin. i'm pretty sure that's a meaningless indicator of performance but since you brought it up, i felt a response would be welcome.

                  price? yank sing is pricey. in return, you get a real tablecloth, a mild background buzz as opposed to cacophony, a wonderful selection of dim sum and the pleasure of actually speaking to your companion without feeling like you're on a time clock.

                  i go there a lot. i like to sit in the back near the kitchen so i can see the carts as they're wheeled out. the food is pretty good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: steve h.

                    I'd like to add that it's great that they take reservations and you don't wait long after arrival. (Res. at House of Prime Rib at peak times, you still wait about 45 minutes.) Last time I went I requested a table for 6 near where the carts come out of the kitchen. When I arrived, the table was ready but (of course!) not all of my friends had arrived on time. They said to go ahead and be seated, no problem. I can understand where a restaurant would not want to tie up a table like that -- they were very gracious. My favorite is one of the least expensive, har gow -- shrimp dumplings.

                  2. Yank Sing is a great place to start your own or someone else's plunge into
                    dim sum; it's like the carts have little training wheels. Once you get your
                    bearings, there are certainly other options.

                    There's almost no danger of accidently digging into a plate of stomach lining from
                    an unfamiliar mammal. The cart pacing is better than the feast-or-famine randomness
                    of the typical chinatown place. You don't have to continually fight off the dessert
                    cart lady right from the get go. Plus while there may not be anything particularly
                    superlative, everything is done well.

                    That said, I'd highly recommend the Rincon location over the "drab SF downtown
                    backdrop" of the Stevenson location.

                    1. If you got the Empress Appetizer plate at Empress of China
                      Empress Appetizer Plate $15.95
                      Ribs, prawns, egg roll, fried Won
                      for 2 persons with tea, you are already at $35.00 w/o tax and tip.
                      Why do you think $35.00 is out of line. See what happens when you order Peking Duck.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: OldTimer

                        YS is not a great experience. Maybe great if it is your first time and you won't see the bill. The worst part is the hard sell from the cart pushers who need to unload their overpriced dumplings.

                        1. re: Bprecie

                          I've never had a hard sell. They do keep coming back and offering stuff we've already passed on, but I prefer that to places where you have to run across the room and grab stuff from the carts as they come out of the kitchen.

                      2. Yank Sing is way too expensive, but that is really the only problem I have with them. If you say you're disappointed by his place, then I really think either you've set your bars way too high, or you happened upon their "off-day" which I've never experienced in the several times that I have been there.

                        Yes I'm very annoyed by Yank Sing's exorbitant prices. Their location and service are good and their bathrooms are cleaner than any other dim sum places on the Peninsula. But those things still don't add up to just how expensive Yank Sing is. The last time we went, we got 8 items (every item ranged from $8 to $12) and that cost us almost $100 including tax/tip.

                        But I think Yank Sing is very consistent. The quality is arguably on par with Koi Palace. Even though you order off carts, the carts come around all the time and things are almost always pretty fresh. And I can see how some people may think a little bit of superiority in service and ambiance (and little touch like jasmine tea that comes in a European-style transparent tea pot) is well-worth the price of dim sum being more than twice that of Koi Palace.

                        Two other things in reference to what the OP said...

                        1). The times I've been to Yank Sing, there are always a good proportion of Asian people. In any case, folks in places like SF are so savvy wrt ethnic food (esp things like dim sum) that your theory about Asian/non-Asian clientele doesn't always hold true.

                        2). You will NOT find any dim sum place in Chinatown nearly as good as Yank Sing.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: chowmouse

                          The only dim sum item at Yank Sing which didn't quite measure up is their steamed char-siew bao. Somehow, their version doesn't come up light & fluffy, but stodgy & yellowish in color.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Just ate there today for lunch and found it pretty darn good and yes, it is pricey, but I've seen worse (Harmony in Mill Valley, to mention one). I did not have the char-siew bao, but did peek at it in the steamer and it looked perfectly white and fluffy.

                            We had:
                            fresh fish (I didn't order - assume this was a special of the day - cod? a light, white fish), steamed and served with a very light sauce -- very nice

                            green beans sauteed in red bean/dried shrimp paste sauce - really good

                            har gow - larger than I remember and very tasty

                            shrimp and chive dumplings -- these were okay, a little bland

                            chicken dumplings - again, these were fine, wouldn't run over here for these

                            Everything looked good on the carts going by.

                            Overall, it was a very nice lunch and I would recommend this place for a weekday lunch inside the restaurant. The service was very good and we enjoyed the tea. Then again, my dining companion is a well-known regular there, so that may have skewed things a bit. I have eaten at the take-out window before and was not that excited about it.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              The manager recommends the baked pork bun instead of the steamed one; if you don't see it, just ask the server in charge of your table and they will make sure you get one.