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

Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2011 09:23 AM

Some recent discussion here:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/798631

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)

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

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2011 09:35 AM

    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
      jason carey RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2011 10:15 AM

      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
        d
        Dustin_E RE: jason carey Aug 5, 2011 10:24 AM

        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
          d
          david kaplan RE: jason carey Aug 6, 2011 05:59 PM

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

          1. re: jason carey
            h
            hyperbowler RE: jason carey Jul 29, 2012 02:48 AM

            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. j
          Joel RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2011 03:58 PM

          "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
            Robert Lauriston RE: Joel Aug 5, 2011 04:10 PM

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

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              r
              Ridge RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2011 01:13 PM

              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. mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2011 05:47 PM

            yes to both your questions re fish and cold pork.

            love that chicken too.

            1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 1, 2013 08:05 AM

              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. h
                hyperbowler RE: Robert Lauriston May 24, 2013 01:40 AM

                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.

                http://www.chilihousesf.com/pdf/chili...

                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
                  osho RE: hyperbowler Jul 11, 2013 01:22 PM

                  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
                    grayelf RE: osho Jul 12, 2013 05:14 AM

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

                    1. re: osho
                      m
                      miss_bennet RE: osho Jul 13, 2013 11:07 AM

                      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
                        eatzalot RE: miss_bennet Jul 13, 2013 11:32 AM

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884365

                        -- 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.

                  2. h
                    hyperbowler RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 25, 2013 12:46 PM

                    In the mood for some milder dishes at Z&Y, I tried out some dishes I'd not read about before. Of the three dishes, I'd recommend the Feng Wine beef.

                    Feng wine beef 汾酒牛肉 The thinly sliced beef has a slight winey, but not alcoholic taste. It's a good, mild alternative to their Couple's Delight. According to Pleco, "feng" refers to a colourless liquor distilled in Fenyang (汾陽) of Shanxi Province.

                    Steam chicken soup with Chinese herb 藥膳滋補雞湯 A medicinal soup with a good chicken base, and a strong flavor of what the server kindly identified on his iPhone as "Chinese Angelica" or dong quai. There was also ginseng and some goji berries cooked long enough that they lost their color. I don't care for Chinese Angelica, but found the soup warming

                    Turkey Style Grill Chicken 土耳其烤雞肉 The Turkey here refers to the country, not the bird. The "grilled" chicken slices seems stir fried and tossed in a slightly spicy and tangy sauce with grilled onions. It was reminiscent of Mongolian chicken and I liked it. The rest of the dish was amusing--- you're supposed to place the chicken and a slaw in a Mandarin pancake. The slaw, presumably the "Turkish" thing, consisted of shredded cabbage, carrots, and onions in Italian dressing! The chicken part was good...

                     
                     
                     
                    1. h
                      hyperbowler RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2014 07:55 AM

                      Hunan Cuisine was closed Sunday afternoon, so I returned to standby Z & Y.

                      The meal started with a complementary cold salad made with crisp shredded potatoes in vinegar.

                      "Yunnan style fried rice cake" is the only nominally Yunnan dish on the menu. The combination of a smokey Chinese bacon, leeks, and a spicy red sauce toys around with some of the elements of twice cooked pork. But instead of being the focal point, these flavors serve as the potent backdrop for the chewy oval shaped rice cakes (nian gao). The rice cakes were cooked softer than at a good Shanghainese place, but that did help them absorb flavors. This is a delicious dish, and I wonder if its the inspiration for Mission Chinese Food's "Thrice Cooked Pork."

                      I asked the server if there were any other Yunnan dishes and he said there was an off menu item, a soup (it's still listed on their website as Yunnan Traditional Rice Noodle Soup (云南过桥米线 Yunnan bridge noodle).

                      I was seated in the front most table, and got lots of questions about this dish from tourists who defected from Great Eastern's long line. The rice noodles are the thick spaghetti-like ones found in Guilin Rice Noodles and in Vietnamese bun bo hue (see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9178... ). Mixed in the clear soup were slices of beef, a white fish, thick pink slices of some kind of pork forcemeat product, chicken, and pickled vegetables (zha cai?). There's a light oil sheen on the top. Mild and enjoyable. My DC's didn't want any, so it served as my meal and allowed for some leftovers and small bites of the other dishes.

                      Couple's delight : beef shank (?), tripe, and tendon, dressed in a red sauce with lots of heat and Sichuan peppercorns. Vertically stacked and very pretty.

                      Wonton With Spicy Peanut Sauce : red oil dumplings with chopped peanuts. Lots of garlic and heat.

                      Beef pancake : delicious umami bomb. It's a good companion to all the dishes heavy in red oil.

                      Tan tan noodle : big let down compared to what I had last year at their sister restaurant, Chili House http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8843.... That was probably my favorite version after going through a bunch for DOTM. Z & Y made this vegetarian for some reason and left out the fried ground meat and ya cai topping-- the top was naked except for some greens. No brothy sauce at the bottom. Instead it was barely enough red oil to moisten up the sesame paste, minced garlic, peanuts, scallions, and ya cai to coat the too-soft noodles. No Sichuan peppercorn flavor. Sesame paste was the main flavor.

                      There are a few other dishes I'd like to try next time I come here. Has anyone tried the hand-pulled noodles there or at Chile House recently? They're only listed as part of the "Whole Fish with Bean Chili and Hand-Pulled Noodles.

                      And are these prepared traditionally, and well, or more the gloopy Americanized version?
                      K6. Eggplant with Garlic Sauce or I2. Shredded Pork w/ Garlic Sauce (fish fragrant

                      )

                      H5. Orange Flavor Beef

                       
                       
                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hyperbowler
                        soupçon RE: hyperbowler Jun 24, 2014 11:15 AM

                        Did you have any of the Couple's Delight? That's one of my "must haves" at Z&Y and a dish my wife is so enamored of she has me pick up an order to go to add to the cold dishes when she cooks a big Shanghainese family meal. It travels well.

                        Were the "Crossing the Bridge" noodles served with the toppings on the side? That's the traditional way (the very name refers to the act of lifting ingredients from one container to another) and the way they served them at Z&Y when it had a Yunnan chef and menu.

                        Odd that the overflow from Great Eastern was going to Z&Y. Usually it's the other way around.

                        1. re: soupçon
                          h
                          hyperbowler RE: soupçon Jun 24, 2014 11:43 AM

                          I had a sample at Z & Y, but ate most of the Couple's Delight as leftovers yesterday. I'm glad I did-- I didn't get any tripe the first time around. Jostling around the container also forced me to eat the bean sprouts... a flavor I dislike, but in this dish their flavor was masked and they added a fourth texture I will relish in the future.

                          I've only eaten Couple's Delight a few times, but it's been the best training-wheels for me to understand the role of texture in Chinese cooking.

                          The toppings were all included in the Crossing the Bridge Noodles.

                          Oh, interesting about the flow of traffic. Several people seemed to be hedging their bets with Great Eastern--- they still were holding their pink tickets from GE as they signed up at Z & Y.

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