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Aug 5, 2011 09:23 AM

Z & Y - what to order? [San Francisco]

Some recent discussion here:

Recommended there:

Sichuan cold noodles (dim sum menu)
Yunnan style rice cake with ham (dim sum menu)
chicken with explosive chilli pepper
ma-po tofu
tan tan noodles

"water boiled fish" - is that the "spicy fish with flaming chilli oil"?
cold bacon-cut pork - is that the "sliced pork with spicy garlic sauce"?

tiger skin jalapeños (not on the current English menu)
tea tree mushrooms (not on the English menu)

Z & Y
655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. Went last night.

    Szechuan spicy cold cabbage, refreshing and lemony, with raw carrots to offset the sourness a bit.

    The rice cakes with Yunnan ham and leek greens is a brilliant dish. That ham is so intense that it overpowers a lot of other ingredients, and dduk are extremely bland, so they're a great pairing. Great combination of textures, too.

    Ma-po tofu, soupier than I like but good flavor. Could be spicier.

    Tan tan noodles, tasty but not as good as the last time I was there, the sauce was too wet so everything puddled at the bottom of the bowl and didn't stick to the noodles, which had a slightly raw / doughy flavor.

    Pea shoots with garlic, standard but nicely done.

    I wish I'd remembered about the tea tree mushrooms. Are those on the Chinese menu under the glass on the table?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Clay Pot Eggplant- my favorite dish here..

      Double sauteed Pork

      Cumin Lamb or special lambchop not on menu

      Silky Tofu in Chili oil with the crunchy little things.

      Green Beans (yes cliche but good)

      Corn and Shrimp on the platform (on Chinese MenU) greasy but good

      1. re: jason carey

        thanks for the report, robert.

        in addition to the stuff mentioned above, i like the green onion pancake and homemade soymilk -- they are both surprisingly good. Also:

        - Z&Y probably has my favorite peking duck in the bay area.
        - the eggplant claypot was too sweet for my tastes.
        - mapo tofu is great, but i probably prefer the silky tofu in chili oil with crunch little things.

        i've also had the wrapped beef roll thing that i thought was decent.

        1. re: jason carey

          In addition to those lamb dishes, they will also make lamb ribs prepped like the explosive chili pepper chicken.

          1. re: jason carey

            I had the lamb chops today--- it's on the Chinese-only menu (we'd spotted it on someone else's table and asked to have it). The bone-in lamb chop has a skewer along its length, and is served with a dusting of fried minced garlic and sesame seeds. The garlic was crispy yet not at all bitter. It was $12.95 I think and a great find.

        2. "Baked whole fish"is what it's called on the menu, under Chef's specialties.
          -- I was expecting a whole fish, but not so. It was a filet. Absolutely delicious; no sauce, but very flavorful and moist. Not like anything I've had before.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Joel

            I'm not sure what you're referring to. mariacarmen recommended "water boiled fish (fish in chili oil)."

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I really love this place. I suspect that they use healthier oils than other Sichuan restaurants because I don’t get the saturated fat overload feeling after eating here that I experience at other Sichuan places. The tea tree mushrooms on the special menu are one of my favorite dishes here. Super umami richness. The crab with house spicy sauce is very good also. The last time we got this spicy silky tofu jelly dish from the dim sum menu. It was like a rich spicy soup somewhat reminiscent of Ma Po Tofu. Really amazing.There has only been one dish I haven’t liked here. The corn, shrimp and egg dish on the special menu, which I found cloyingly sweet.

          2. yes to both your questions re fish and cold pork.

            love that chicken too.

            1. It's still not on their English online menu, but somebody posted a picture of "lamb chops, Uyghur style" on Yelp. Do they have any other Uighur dishes on the Chinese menu?

              1. I don't know if this is a regular thing, but they stopped seating tonight at least 45 minutes before they were scheduled to close. All was not lost--- I noticed that their Chinese menus were no longer on the walls or on the tables.

                It seems that Z & Y has eliminated the Chinese-only menu, and has incorporated those dishes into a bilingual menu. A major hat tip to Z & Y for acknowledging that their specials have a broader audience than just Chinese speakers! Everything on the new menu has been translated except for seasonal vegetables.

                The new menu isn't available on Z&Y's website, but it's available as their current take out menu and is identical to the online menu of their sister restaurant, Chili House in the Richmond District.


                Compared to their old bilingual menu, there's now a broader selection of Sichuan offal dishes, lamb options where there had previously been only beef or pork (e.g., in the flaming chili oil AKA "water boiled" dishes), four frog dishes, and a few that use sour bean ( 酸豆角 , pickled long beans). The tea tree mushroom in mini-flaming pot is now on the menu. The other new additions aren't uniquely Sichuan. They've eliminated some Cantonese dishes and replaced them with other regional dishes. There's now some dishes from Zhejiang (Dong Po Pork, West Lake Beef Soup, Drunken Chicken), from Uyghur (新疆烤羊排 "Xinjiang Style Gill Lamb Chops" , cumin lamb), Beef or Chicken Grilled Turkey Style (the country not the bird--- anyone know what that actually means?), Lamb Chops with Crispy Garlic, some salty egg yolk dishes, and a coconut, roast pork, & pumpkin soup that I think you need to order in advance ( 官邸烤猪肉椰清南瓜湯 ).

                The seasonal vegetables can be prepared boiled, stir-fried, or stir-fried w/ chili or garlic and consist of:
                大荳苗 = large pea sprouts
                小白菜 = bok choy
                芥菜 = gai cai (mustard greens
                )芥蘭 = gai-lan (chinese broccoli)

                4 Replies
                1. re: hyperbowler

                  We had a fabulous dinner at Z&Y two weeks ago so thought I'd provide a quick update.

                  大荳苗 = large pea sprouts stir-fried with sichuan peppers & garlic - brilliant flavours - very vibrant and fresh

                  Explosive chili pepper chicken - as good or even better than I remember it.

                  Tiger skin jalapeno - the owner was surprised when I mentioned this dish - told me he was making it only because I had returned after many months :-)

                  Tan Tan noodles - these were not perfectly mixed with the sauce but the bite was just right

                  Ma Po Dofu - amazing, just amazing - silky tofu with perfect amount of spice and ma la

                  We had a couple of cold appetizers too - can't recall what they were.

                  One thing to note is if/when you are here with a group of five or six people, they do not automatically add 20% gratuity so watch out before you pay the bill.

                  Very helpful and quick service as always. We arrived a bit early for dinner and they were completely full with customers waiting around even outside the resto by the time we left.

                  Good for them!

                  1. re: osho

                    Argh, sad to hear that the tiger skin jalapeno is not a regular item any more.

                    1. re: osho

                      Are the Tan Tan traditional, with minced pork and a black sesame / vinegar sauce, or are they sesame peanut style?
                      I'd love to find Dandan like I had in Chengdu.

                      1. re: miss_bennet


                        -- on the dish in general, its variations and relatives, and some Bay Area places serving various versions. From earlier this year, when it was a featured dish on this board. Links to other restaurant threads are there too.

                        Dunlop (the Chengdu-trained cookbook author) describes current Chengdu versions both without ("traditional") and with a moderate element of sesame paste (NOT peanut butter and NOT a pint of gloppy goo). As elaborated in the linked thread (which is worth reading through, IMO), dan dan mian is one of those local specialties so widely known now that all and sundry Chinese restaurants offer some "version" of it, often so far removed from the subtle and satisfying Chengdu recipes as to impart wide misperceptions of the dish in places like the United States. In fact, Chengdu versions are remarkably easy to make at home and in the true tradition of this street vendors' noodle specialty, there is no one "recipe" but rather a cluster of principles that once learned, facilitate endless exquisite improvises.