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Aug 19, 2009 11:45 AM

What's the skinny on YUET LEE?

Hi, Melanie Wong. I've been reading your stuff and you seem very knowledgeable so,
what's the latest skinny on YUET LEE?

We went there years ago following a great review in SF mag and were treated like dirt so we never returned. However, we've heard some good things about them lately and our visit to SF is coming up so we'd like to learn if things there have changed. Have they?

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    1. Service has never been spotted at Yuet Lee.

      1. I'm sorry, but the other posters are pissing me off. I've been eating at Yuet Lee for 20 years, and we are always treated well. Perhaps they are not unctuous like you'd find elsewhere, and they're definitely abrupt, but we have always been steered toward good food, and they even joke around with us. Don't be put off by their matter-of-fact-ishness. Be human and warm to them, and they'll be friendly back.
        And their salt and pepper prawns are still the standard bearer.

        3 Replies
        1. re: peterme

          I've been eating at Yuet Lee for 30 years. They take my order, they bring the food to the table quickly when it's ready. I don't recall a server ever being friendly (except at the short-lived 26th St. location) or rude, just efficient. Sometimes they don't speak much English which I suppose could be a problem for some people.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            The amount of salt and pepper squid on the plate has been dropping over the years as the price has risen (currently above the $13 mark, as I remember). I find that somewhat rude. But the servers? No way. On more than one occasion they've taken good care of me in my post-2am diminished capacity and even allowed me to return. What more could I ask for?

            Well, I guess I could ask that they either cut the price of the squid in half or pile up twice as much and then I'd be likely to eat there more than twice as often but what do I know about economics ...

            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              I guess i don't see why its rude to reduce prices while reducing portion size - these are really the only two variables the restaurant has to combat their own rising costs, after all. I think that either one alone could suffice, but i dont really get where you're issue is coming from here - the main concern would seem to be noticability. If I sell heavenly s & p squid for 10 dollars per order for years and years, while my price per lb of wholesale squid goes up, i see an incrimental loss in profitability. But when i raise the price by 1 dollar, even though costs have risen faster, everyone screams bloody murder.

              On the other hand, if every six months i reduce my portion by half an ounce i can probably keep up with (wholesale) price increases, but at some point you'll notice and call me a cheap bastard.

              Combining these two strategies (not neccessarily simultaneously, but over the long run) seems like the surest risk of calling attention to it. Bought a dirty water dog for a buck on a NYC street lately? they must be getting 15 to a lb. but they still only cost a buck.

              I don't think either of these diversionary tactics work in the long run because things were always bigger, better and cheaper than they are now. take some solace in the fact that the food still tastes great and one day, youll look back on your 13 dollar, undersized plate and think of the great deal you used to get.

        2. I have a friend who LOVES their fried calamari (I don't eat it; to me, squid is bait. I don't eat sushi, either.) All she has to is walk in, sit down and THEY TELL HER, calamari and a glass of red wine!! NO ONE ELSE makes salt & pepper sparerib (really a thin cutlet) as well as they -- I don't know why theirs is the best.

          10 Replies
          1. re: walker

            We just had those "spareribs" today and SO tasty. Also chowfun and it was the best chow fun noodle we've ever had, about half the width of most places. I asked if they make it but no. I agree with some others that the service is efficient but I've never seen it rude. And this place stays busy so they are motivated to turn the tables. Having leftover chowfun tonight :)

            1. re: c oliver

              Here's a photo of my plate of dry fried beef chow fun at YL last month.
              You can see that the noodles are about the width of the green onions. My mom got the leftovers and said that it was the best she's had in a long time. Nice sear on the beef, not over tenderized.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                You killed me with that photo :) 8am here at Lake Tahoe and NO Chinese food much less good. That's the exact dish we got. Isn't that noodle width unusual? Seems like they're usually twice that wide. We bought some fresh ones at a market afterwards and they were the typical (for us) wider ones. And I agree that the beef was perfect. Thanks for the photo. I'm tempted to see if I could print it and start a gallery on a kitchen wall of favorite foods.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Yes, the fun are much narrower than average. since I've not seen them like this anywhere else, maybe YL buys full sheets of fun and cuts them in-house. Or they might be a custom order just for Yuet Lee.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I sent that pix to a friend in the Boston area who says her favorite chow fun has the narrow noodles. There's nothing wrong with the wider but they do tend to stick together. YL's was just one of those perfect combos.

                  2. re: c oliver

                    love the pix of the chowfun - I am here at the computer, with early morning chill in the air and a pix to warm my heart. It would be a great breakfast with a fried egg, and I want it now.

                    1. re: Cynsa

                      I was there again last week when I found Hing Lung closed after 10pm. Ordered the hung to wor mein, which was barely passable due to weak broth, too much alkali remaining in the skinny noodles, and not enough char siu.
                      So, one needs to order carefully at Yuet Lee. I noticed that there's a sign posted that lists the most popular dishes. I think it pretty much corresponds with 'hounds top picks, so it's an easy guide on what to order.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Are those the signs that run along the wall? I'm waiting for test results regarding seafood allergies so kept it pretty simple this time but all those items look great.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          This particular sign is on the divider wall, one of the first things you'll see when you step in the door. The dishes are itemized in a list.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            And that's right where we were sitting. "Food" for thought.