MY China - SF
- Robert Lauriston Dec 2, 2012 12:35 PM
Martin Yan's new place is supposed to open tomorrow, taking reservations starting 12/10.. Menus online, looks like Yank Sing is no longer the most expensive dim sum.
Although I can tell already with the high price point that I won't be eating here a lot, I do have high hopes and high expectations that this will be food that will taste delicious and not be watered down because it happens to be in the Westfield Mall.
I look forward to hearing reports about early dining experiences there, as well as portion sizes, especially with the sides. With entree-like prices for down home Chinese restaurant joints, I really hope these aren't just 'small plates' but shareable, high quality, tasty dishes that really reflects the passion of Martin Yan's cooking!
I returned at 8:30pm. It was crowded but there were seats at the bar.
The wild boar juicy dumplings (aka XLB) were great. Having the XLB cooked on spoons within the steamer is a mixed bag. On the plus side, no soup leaks into the steamer and, because the spoon is too hot to touch for a minute, you can't burn yourself on the liquid inside the XLB. On the downside, a small amount of water accumulates inside the spoon, and dilutes any spilled liquid with bamboo flavored water. None of mine leaked, so I was able to dump out this extra water.
The first smell from the XLB was of flour, and upon piecing, the fragrance of ginger and a game meat came out. The wrapper wasn't translucent, but it had a good texture and was tightly enough wrapped around the meat that it held its structure when pierced. The meat and broth had a great flavor. These aren't the kind of XLB where the meat forms a solid mass. As mentioned in other posts, the red vinegar doesn't work at all and is too acidic. Its use surprises me--- I would think a Western audience would prefer the sweetness and concentrated flavor of the traditional accompaniment to the acidity of the red vinegar My China gives.
I also got the Dan Dan Noodles, which are described as "chilled noodles, pork, peanuts, chili garlic sauce." The vermicelli-sized noodles were plentiful, but they had no residual starch and no sauce stuck to them. On top of the noodles also was probably a tablespoon of bacon-bit sized dense, but very good, pieces of pork, tons of shredded carrots and cucumbers, and some peanuts.
Versions of Dan Dan Noodles around the Bay Area always include a spicy sauce that coats noodles. That includes ones which have a one-note sichuan peppercorn chile oil sauce, a spicy sesame peanut sauce, or a more traditional sauce that incorporates Tianjin preserved vegetable. My China's version used a virtually nonexistent sauce--- no oiliness or stickiness and if there was any sesame paste or Tianjin preserved vegetable, I couldn't taste or feel it. I also couldn't taste any Sichuan peppercorns, but think I felt their presence as my tongue tingled while drinking some water. I hope the kitchen was having a problem tonight--- as prepared, I can't imagine this watery dish appealing to anyone.
Service was excellent. They're working their butts off and are eager to please.
Great descriptions. I admire your ability to describe flavors and textures. From what I'm reading, this place is sounding more like what I call "lowest common denominator" food. Meaning it may taste very good but it's been tamped down to appeal to a broad (very broad) audience.
You haven't mentioned, do you get chopsticks with the XLB? I've never eaten them in just one bite but rather poke a little hole and nibble.
re: c oliver
Oh yes! When you're seated, you get a fabric napkin with plastic chopsticks and a fork inside.
It's interesting--- I was given no instruction on how to eat the XLB and wasn't told to wait for the spoon handles to cool. They are pretty foolproof though. You'd miss the fun, but you could conceivably stab them with a fork and eat them in one gigantic bite. The vinegar was given to me with a small spoon, so I think they expect customers to pour it rather than dip.
Yeah, it usually takes me two to four bites to polish off an XLB. Depending on how tightly the XLB are wrapped and how much soup is inside, I tend to either suck out the soup or drain it in my spoon.
I guess you can get "lowest common denominator" by adding positive things and removing negative things. I was happy to see that, the vinegar and presentation minutiae notwithstanding, the XLB were better executed than several Shanghainese places in town, and nothing about their flavor struck me as dumbing down. More power to them if they teach mallgoers that Chinese food can have natural flavors instead of just grease, sugar, and MSG. On the other hand, the Dan Dan Noodles avoided those negative pitfalls of Americanized Chinese food, but at the same time forgot to add any positive ones.
I deliberately used "tamped down" rather than "dumbed down :) And I mean that. And I think your description of the Dan Dan Noodles is a good example. The ones I've had have a real kick and I love that Sichuan peppercorn numbing. And, yes, if they can get mallgoers to stretch a bit, that's a VERY good thing. I remember some years ago being in Macys at Union Square and being amazed (and maybe a litte appalled?) at the gigantic line to get into the Cheesecake Factory. I wanted to gather the group together and give a little lecture explaining all the really good food outside the doors. But different strokes. And imagine how crowded those other places would be if all the CF folks went there.
re: c oliver
Excellent description of "tamped down" versus dumbed down. Nice to see M.Y. China and Hakkasan do that. In Century City the Meizhou Dongpo chain's first US outpost did something similar. They added items to the US menu which they didn't have in China, but authentic versions thereof, like Peking Duck and xiaolongbao. In contrast most of the fancy Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas go the dumbed down route.
Review by request :). A few friends and I ate dinner at M.Y. China last night. We had reservations so there was no problem getting seated, but I noticed that there was over an hour and a half wait for walk-ins.
TL;DR version: It was great and surpassed expectations. I'm looking forward to returning.
First, the setting. I have to admit I was apprehensive about eating next door to a mall movie theater. Although such a location is traditionally reserved for Cinnabon or Auntie Anne's Pretzels, the large indoor environment under a lit up dome actually felt fun. It was reminiscent of a hotel restaurant, or something out of Las Vegas. The interior of the restaurant itself seems huge and is fairly stunning. I really liked the open kitchen with a clear view to the award winning Tony Wu doing noodle acrobatics. My one criticism, however minor, is that the cast-iron bell from a Chinese monastery hanging over the bar is not as large as it appears in pictures I've seen from reviews.
On to the food. We ordered the Pork & Crab Juicy Dumplings, Pork & Black Truffle Juicy Dumplings, and Spicy Seafood Dumplings. From the main entrees, we ordered Hong Kong Crispy Noodle with Chicken and XO Sauce, Five Spice Pork Ribs, and Peking Roast Duck. We also ordered a side of the Forbidden Rice and two teas.
The Pork & Crab and Pork and Black Truffle dumplings each come individually placed in a soup spoon, which solves a key problem of ripping and broth-loss that happens from time to time with soup dumplings. There was not as much broth inside as others I've tasted, but the dumplings were extremely flavorful. I enjoyed the vinegar that comes on the side, even though I read some criticism of it in a recent review. I will say that because the soup spoons are inside the steaming container, they are extremely hot when the dumplings are set down. This made eating the dumplings challenging until the spoons cool down, which was tough because we were hungry and excited! Also, while the black truffle dumplings sounded good, I couldn't really taste black truffle and would be hard pressed to differentiate them from the Pork & Crab dumplings. This might be because I overdid it on the vinegar, but I was expecting a little more clear flavor from the black truffle.
Everybody loved the Spicy Seafood dumplings--they were probably the table favorite. The shrimp inside was perfectly cooked, and the spinach wrapper was a cool twist. Somebody mentioned that they would happily drink the sauce.
The crispy noodle dish was really fantastic as well. The noodles were perfectly crispy, vegetables were fresh, chicken was moist, and the XO sauce was perfect. I haven't had a hong kong crispy noodles dish that good since the one at Shanghai Cafe in New York.
The five spice pork ribs were great, but seemed like something you could get at a good high-end asian fusion restaurant. They were coated in a tempura-like batter and covered with thai-style peppers and onions. I'm not a huge rib fan, unless it's BBQ southern style, so these weren't my favorite. Still, the execution on this dish was good and my friend who ordered it ate two, with joyful abandon. My favorite part was the onion and pepper garnish.
The Peking Duck came out last, and was plated in a really interesting way with little pieces of duck with very crispy skin set out almost like candy. The house-made pancakes were super thin and moist, but kept their integrity well. The leeks, cucumber, and hoisin sauce was fresh and overall this was a nice dish.
The forbidden rice was excellent, with good mix of regular and long rice. It came out first, so people were eating it before any of the mains or even dumplings, which probably was not ideal. This kink will likely be worked out soon. Other service hiccups included a long wait for drink orders, a very long wait for our check, and our accidentally receiving another table's dumplings well into our meal (over my protestations, my friends declined them).
One of the highlights of the meal was the tea. They bring it out in individual small kettles, and the double hulled glass teacups are sleek and modern. I loved the baby Chrysamthemum, and the Milk Ooling was complex and tasty too.
I don't think this place is much like Yank Sing at all--seems more fusion-y and with seriously strong notes on the main entrees. While the dumplings were fairly awesome, I don't think the rest of the menu suffers at all in comparison. Can't wait to go back and continue sampling the menu, especially the sides and market seafood, and am very glad to have such a grand setting with matching food in town.
For two people and tea, we ended up paying about $40 per person, which I thought was reasonable.
Tried all three kinds of juicy dumplings (Pork & Crab, Wild Boar, and Pork & Black Truffle) and agree with the observation about the hot spoons. The difference in taste between the three kinds was far smaller than I had expected. The Pork & Black Truffle were probably a little bit tastier. Overall, though, I thought they were a little too large and had too much dough. I was hoping for something that would blow away Yank Sing's Kurobuta Pork dumplings, but no such luck.
Really liked the Wok Seared Beef Filet, though.
re: steve h.
steve, not for the first time, you're my hero :) Thanks a mil. I don't always have the great internet connection.
Now from looking at the menu, IMneverHO, that's no dim sum restaurant. It's a Chinese place with a few dim sum dishes. And if we eliminate the XLB (Shanghainese), even fewer. But next time I'm at Nordies (over Christmas?) looking for my size 11 boats, I may order a dish or two.
Again, thanks, bud.
re: c oliver
Sit at the counter on the right rather than at a table and watch the action. The wild boar juicy dumplings are very good as are the shrimp har gow. The noodles are outstanding. The beef hand pulled noodle soup is excellent but it easily feeds two so be aware. Cocktails are excellent. Scott Rodrick is the owner, he's a real gentleman. Stanford Gee is the manager. I enjoyed speaking with both of them. Let me know what you think.
+1 on the five spice ribs. The tempura coating was delicious and similar to a salt and pepper style coating, eg salt and pepper crab. Perfect with plain hot rice and veggies. I will return to have this dish again.
Cupola in the same part of the mall is also very good. I would go there if I couldn't get in to MY China.
MY China could have easily disappointed us, but surprised us with solid Chinese food, some of it more Americanized. It provides a good introduction to real Chinese food, making it more accessible to a wider audience. This restaurant is a no brainer if you are shopping at the mall.
More people will be ready to venture to true San Francisco Bay Area Chinese food at restaurants such as Koi Palace, R&G Lounge, and Great Eastern.
Har Gow (3 for $7) shrimp, served with spicy soy sauce were super expensive, but surprisingly decent. Thick wrapper, large shrimp, but not as good as Koi Palace's, yet above average.
Tea Smoked Pork Belly Sliders (2 for $8) picked daikon, cilantro, Sichuan Peppercorn oil was a nice starter. Crunch pork skin and veggies, big bun, good flavors. Could have used even more fat! This dish isn't very authentic..
Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles ($14) wok tossed shallots, Shaoxing wine was made in house. A very good dish that simply lacked enough noodles. Reminded us of Flour and Water syndrome. Tender noodles, good quality non gamey meat. Several noodle dishes are not made in house, so make sure you order correctly.
Braised Beef Short Ribs in a Claypot aromatic herbs, dried chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, hoisin sauce ($25) was a misnomer. This is a stewed beef brisket that we had to ask for bowls to eat. Zesty sauce elements, tender long boiled beef that deserved some rice.
Wok Seared Beef Filet ($16) Sichuan peppercorns, Shaoxing wine came with a ton of arugula. The beef was tender, yet a bit too spicy.
Crispy Roast Chicken ($16) fennel slaw, salt plum seasoning was a classic Chinese dish. Crispy skin and juicy, tender meat.
Peking Roast Duck ($20) green onions, cucumber, hoisin sauce, house-made pancakes was also nicely done. Everything carefully laid out for assembly. Tender sliced meat, scallions, plum sauce, cucumbers.. Interestingly they did not have any whole ducks.
Forbidden Rice ($8) red rice, brown rice, egg, wolfberries was a solid artsy fried rice dish. A must for vegetarians.
Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy ($8) fried garlic, salted fish sauce, Shaoxing wine was pretty standard fare.
Chilled Eggplant ($8) with yuzu vinaigrette was a very good cold vegetable dish. A must for vegetarians with its clean, crisp flavors.
I went last Friday and had a pretty horrible experience. The only thing we liked was the Siu Mai. Although I must preface that, we had a hard time ordering since one didn't eat beef, and another didn't pork and shrimp. Ha.
The beef hand pulled noodle soup had good beef and broth, but we didn't think the noodles had enough bite. They were just doughy.
Bang Bang chicken wings had an overpowering marinade that didn't agree with me.
Peking duck had nice skin but a huge layer of fat, don't some places remove this? I thought the thin wrappers provided were very dry, like eating paper.
Hot & Sour soup was more like sweet and sour, good mouthfeel though.
Kung Pao chicken was unbalanced. Too salty and spicy. The white rice we ordered didn't help much since it was dry, my friend commented it felt like a cheap variety of rice?
To make matters worse, pacing was way off. 2/3 of the meal came within the first 5 minutes. We had a late seating as well, most tables were clearing out by the time we started eating.
Don't bother with the "Big Trouble in M.Y. China" under the cocktail menu. The 112 proof liquor served with Tsing Tao beer has no business on the menu. I doubt it would pair well with any food.
I would have ordered differently, if it weren't for my dining partners. But it seems like the limited dim sum menu is what you should stick with here.
Very disappointing for $40+ a person.
We went last night. Some things were good and nothing was terrible. The setting was not my favorite. The service was pretty good. I had heard that the Koi Palace people were involved in this place and I hoped that would be a good influence on Mr. Yan.
Overall the food was mostly good but the flavors were muted and too Americanized. I have had much better versions of everything we ate.
Here is what we ate:
Spicy Seafood Dumplings- Fling was very good, especially the meaty chunks of scallop. One of the best dishes of the evening. However, the dish pales in comparison to the ethereal Spicy Seafood Dumplings we had a few weeks ago at Koi Palace.
Tea Smoked Pork Belly Sliders- Very good and no too fatty.
Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles- One of the other highlights of the evening. Was very good. Unfortunately it reminded me of the hand cut noodles at China Village which are much better.
Hot and Sour soup- Well prepared Hot and sour soup is one of my favorite things to eat and I am very picky about this dish. The M.Y.version was mediocre. The heat was from Chili and not black pepper. It tasted unbalanced and didn’t really taste very much like Hot and Sour soup to me.
Peking Roast Duck- The hoisin sauce was not very flavorful and the buns seemed flabby. It was good but it only made me think about the Pecking duck I ate at Peking Gourmet Inn in Virginia.
All in all I was hoping it would be more authentic and tasty. It was good but boring. Won’t be going back.
MY China offers some of the more Westernized Chinese food I've had in a while. Menu choices are utterly safe, sauces veer to sweet, and vegetables take no notice of California's bounty (green peppers in seafood noodles, really?). The small portions (~33% less than what we expected) and higher prices would be acceptable if the menu were ingredient or technique driven, but sadly we experienced nothing at all like this. We tried crispy tofu (pale cousin of agedashi), shandong beef roll (leaden green onion pancakes filled with sweetish beef), spicy seafood dumplings, beijing knife cut noodles (sweetish sauce tending to gloppy), squid ink snap noodles, seafood treasury (seafood/veg in a fried taro basket), roast chicken, stir fried green beans (not even twice fried). Seafood quality is decent, dumplings are well made (but sauce again veered to sweet), squid ink "blotches" were novel, and roast chicken had perfect skin, but the rest of the food was very ordinary. Atmosphere is upscale food court. Service had too many recurring gaps. No real reason to return.
Embedded in this nice article about the Wok Shop, Martin Yan mentions that he had to add Chinese characters to the M.Y. China menu to accomodate Chinese speaking customers. He also mentions adding "some items that the Chinese clientele would love."
Not sure if these changes happened in the first two months they were open, but I compared a February dinner menu on my laptop to their current one. These changes could just be seasonal, but here are the differences.
Shrimp & Avocado Fresh Spring Rolls (2)
Chilled Eggplant (v) 8 yuzu vinaigrette
Salt & Pepper Live Dungeness Crab Mkt. garlic, pepper, dried onions, huai salt
Wok Sauteed Mushrooms 11 sauteed in duck fat, garlic, Shaoxing wine
Roasted Portobello Sliders (2)(v) 8 green onions, cilantro, carrots
Mongolian venison chow fun
Honey Glazed Lamb Chops replaced with Lamb Chops (garlic, herbs, chili powder, cumin) (大蒜羊肋排
)Pineapple Seafood Fried Rice 8 replaced with Twin scallops fried rice (fresh and dried scallops, egg white) (双貝炒飯)
Grandma's Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli, sausage, Shaoxing sauce) (腊腸唐芥蘭)
M.Y. Cioppino shrimp, scallop, fish, mildly spicy broth (冬蔭海中寶; google says this translates to Tom Yum Chinese Sea Treasure ).
The scissor cut noodles were my main motivation for returning and they were worth the wait. The accompaniments (pork and wood ear fungus) complement but do not distract from the noodles, which are thick in the middle and taper to the sides. The consistent size and shape of the noodles guarantees that each noodle is cooked as chewy as the next. Contrast this to knife shaved noodles (dao chao mian), which have a similar chew, but are often so unevenly cooked that some wind up soggy while others are raw.
The Beijing knife cut noodles were delightful. They are translucent, about 3/4" wide, and have deep fluted edges to catch the sauce. The savory sauce had more heat than I would have expected (from douibanjiang?). There are some shimeji (?) mushrooms in this.
Hand pulled noodles are only in one item, the beef hand-pulled noodle soup, and we didn't get it since it didn't sound easy to share.
Shandong beef rolls are very good. Nice tug on the pancake, not oily, and uniformly cooked. We later revisited the hoisin, scallion, and cucumber combination in the peking duck.
Garlic pea shoots were lightly cooked, and did not lose their color during the meal.
Forbidden Rice (red rice, brown rice, barley, wolfberries) was good.
The honey glazed walnut shrimp were plump. I liked the touch of wasabi in the sauce.
The Peking duck is cut up in the kitchen and plated so that the layer of mahogany pieces of skin hide the chopped duck meat underneath. The fat had been fully rendered out, or separated, and it stayed crispy and tasty throughout the meal. The server (manager?) told us that they stopped preparing these with pancakes because customers kept demanding the buns.
Desserts were all very good. My favorite was the egg puff, kind a dairy-less doughnut. It was more delicately fried than the popular ones at Shanghai Dumpling King, and was served with a raspberry coulis, a chocolate dipping sauce, and whipped cream.
Overall, they do a good job and I'd return here mainly for the noodles. They are expensive for Chinese noodles, but comparably priced to pasta dishes at Cal-Italian places, some of which require less skill to pull off. Some dishes weren't successful:
Arugula helped to offset the cloyingness of the wok-seared beef. I didn't taste or feel the advertised Sichuan peppercorns.
The juicy dumplings (aka xiao long bao), which used to come four to an order, now come six to an order and cost $16. They include three pork dumplings and three crab roe and pork dumplings. The dumplings sit on ceramic spoons inside the steamer, presumably to minimize soup loss. Very bad execution--- steam, or maybe leaked soup, formed a puddle on top of the dumplings. The dumpling skins stuck to the spoon as I lifted them, tearing the skin in the process. The broth was good, but the sensation and aroma of the hot spoon was unpleasant. One of my DC's said that the crab and pork one didn't taste like crab.
The pork belly sliders were okay, but they were too restrained in fat and flavor. The clamshell buns are large, and demand a more intense piece of pork and more pickled daikon.
I agree with you on the noodles, I think they ate real strengths there, as opposed to the wok dishes. The scissor-cut noodles with wild boar are a favorite, and the beef noodle soup with hand pulled noodles is a very credible Taiwan-style niurou lamian. The prices are reasonable considering the venue and the Martin Yan cachet, and considering that hipster hobbyists are charging their cohorts $15 for bowls of far less substantial ramen at pop-ups these days.
I had better luck with the dumplings. I particularly liked the wild boar xiao long bao even though I tend to be a XLB traditionalist.
One of the pluses of dining solo is sitting at the counter by the noodle stations.
I do find the service overly fawning, though, even at the counter.