Excellent off the beaten path affordable Cantonese at Yum's Bistro in Fremont
Apparently the Cantonese Chinese community already knows about this place, still under the radar for most folks.
It's located inside a nondescript strip mall, and you couldn't tell from the inside that the head chef Boson Yum (and possibly the only chef) has an extremely impressive resume, with experience that includes
-Grand Hyatt Hotel Hong Kong
- Fook Yuen (Millbrae)
- HK Flower Lounge (Millbrae)
- ABC Seafood (Foster City)
-South China Seafood Village (SF)
Here is the restaurant's website, along with pdf's of the menu
A glance at the menu shows that this man is skilled in upwards of 10 lobster dishes and 10 crab dishes. In addition to that he apparently can make the style of Cantonese in Hong Kong (like speakeasy's and private kitchen). All for an affordable price.
His specialty dish is "Under The Bridge" spicy crab, which is actually not spicy at all. Stir fried with a ton of garlic flakes as well as red chili's, and what looked to be a hint of black bean sauce. This was different visually than what Anthony Bourdain had in No Reservations: Hong Kong (at the original "Under Bridge" crab in Causeway Bay). He also makes typhoon shelter crab, but everyone and their brother is doing it these days, so the effort to replicate somethign unique with a true flavor of Hong Kong, is appreciated.
The Jakarta style crab had very mild curry flavor, listed as spicy on the menu, but it didn't even tickle one bit. A little bit of onions and a few other seasonings. Very messy eating with fingers as the sauce is like liquid butter. The restaurant provided 6 steamed buns to help soak up the sauce, and a side dish of lemon tea (used for rinsing the fingers).
The salted egg yolk crab was another highlight. Perfect lightly salted mild batter thin layer that sunk in through the shell, which tricked the tastebuds with savory outside and sweet on the inside (the crab meat).
There were other dishes sampled that while were good, did not blow me away. Stir fried pea sporuts with garlic was done well, as was the yin yang fried rice.
Yum's Bistro does have a rotating white board, and as of this week. So whatever you see on the website is likely not being offered (e.g. the basil clams)
- dried mountain yam ostrich
- a dish made with frog
- black bean bitter melon catfish claypot
- roasted squab
- bean sprouts chives "Malay" style stir fried pork neck (could be the jowl cut) - this one was quite good and unusual
- lamb brisket clay pot (and it looked like they provided the portable gas burner at the table to keep it toasty), and comes with a side of veg, although at a whooping $18.
plus five other items I can't quite remember.
This place ends up being cheaper than the competition, given its remoteness/location. Quality food by a very skilled chef. Though service can be a bit slow, and especially the pacing of the dishes, so be prepared for a wait.
There are other dishes that can be pre-ordered from what I learned
- high end steamed fish (grouper or something in cantonese called Lung Dung). They only stock mahn choe (black bass).
- geoduck served several ways
- Chiu Chow style cold crab
and basically anything you can think of that's within reason. I hear he makes a killer HK style curry beef brisket clay pot (that needs to be pre-ordered to slow cook overnight).
If you are a fan of Andy Wai's cooking (sadly he no longer has a Cantonese chef gig) then you will like Boson Yum's cooking. If you are not bothered by the service and slow pacing overall (e.g. if you have a large party and you order 4 crabs), then it should be good.
The crab dishes are roughly $22 per. Could go as high as $26 for bigger crabs. There is a separate white board for the seafood prices.
4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy
(between Capulet Rd & Deep Creek Rd)
Fremont, CA 94555
Folks you want to order at least one crab dish, maybe even a lobster prep to try. I have a feeling that if you order randomly off the menu, your results can be mixed. Also, the male waiter there is the more helpful one.
Heard others say the steamed pork patty with salted fish is good. Regular menu.
Family also recommended lap mei fan (preserved Chinese sausage/meats in rice), chicken stuffed with glutinous rice. These are items that you need to call in to reserve in advance.
Also the white board specials are entirely in Chinese. Maybe the waiter can help translate if you ask.
Yum's resume is actually posted in Chinese of the website, and those chef gigs he did in the past were executive chef gigs (not just a helper or sous chef).
Our group's bill totaled over $120, and the restaurant threw in two coupons, one for a free crab, and the other for a free roasted squab. I didn't see the details but to use the squab coupon, you need to spend a $40 minimum (2 crabs will easily take care of this).
Website says: Up to 80 guests with private rooms of 10 to 60 guests (banquet facilities). However I saw no private rooms.
From a Chinese blogger's writeup of his experience, he was in a party of 30 to 40 people (4 tables). Any larger sized than that you will have to contact the restaurant (and I suppose pre-ordering anything even on the menu items, is recommended to avoid a major slowdown). This is the case if for example more than 3 to 4 crabs are ordered, they want to leave enough for other customers.
I remember seeing about 5 to 6 round tables that seat upwards of 10.
I got to try Yum's Bistro (Cantonese food) Sat 12/12/09. This used to be a bunch of Chinese restaurant that are no longer here. It's in the Ardenwood Plaza near Round Table Pizza. Paseo Padre Pkwy @ Deep Creek.
We went at 5pm so we beat the crowd and had the whole place to ourselves for 1hr, then the place started to get busy at 6:15pm.
FREE salty peanuts given w/ teapot (tea w/ leaves).
We ordered 4 dishes for 2:
Jakata hot chili sauce crab small $22/Lg $26 - we got the small. Comes w/ 6 steamed white buns to catch the tasty sauce. I'm not a fan of crab, but I tried it and thought the flavor was good. Crab crackers given to use & bowl of lemon water to wash your hands.
Dry braised string beans w/ spicy meat sauce $7.5- very tasty beans w/ minced pork. Good.
Sauteed oyster mushrooms & spinach $8.95 - B. wanted it, tasted fine.
Steamed minced pork w/ salted fish $7.5 - small pork patty w/ some ginger slices & w/ some salted fish on top. I liked it.
Rice: 2 small bowls for $2.5
FREE red bean soup dessert. Just ok for me, I don't care for that dessert.
Our bill was $53.17 Before tip. Credit cards taken.
Got a coupon for FREE deep fried pigeon to use within a month. We'll be back next week.
To try next time:
Stewed beef brisket & white radish $10.95
Braised tofu w/ seafood in hot chili sauce $7.5
Braised yee mein w/ crab meat $9.5
Fook kin fried rice $10.50
They are Open on Xmas & New Years Day - Advanced reservation recommended.
Lunch hrs: M, W-F 11-2:30; Sat & Sun 11-3p
Dinner: Su-Th 5-9:30p; Fri-Sat 5-10p
Thanks to the recommendations here, we tried Yum's Bistro for lunch yesterday (12/20). The deep fried salt & pepper crab was excellent, close to the gold standard of R&G Lounge in San Francisco. The steamed pork hash with salted fish was quite good - very light and fluffy. However, it disappointed in that it lacked character - it needed some salted fish and water chestnuts mixed in with the ground pork. Just placing a couple of pieces of salted fish on top doesn't infuse the flavor into the meat patty. The braised tofu-mushroom-choy sum vegetable dish was nicely done. Total tab was $43 ($22 for the medium-sized crab). Not a signature meal overall but very very good and worth trying if you're in the neighborhood. Food service was efficient, although the staff had to be flagged down to place the order after a long wait.
I went back for a dinner with family middle of the month. The meal lasted an ungodly 2.5 hours as there is only one executive chef with an assistant/sous chef. This place is torturous on the weekends, and is notoriously slow, but the food can be fantastic. I will provide a more in depth review of the off-menu dishes I had when I return from my trip.