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Dec 5, 2012 12:11 PM

M. Y. China: Some first impressions [SF]

I visited M.Y. China yesterday, their second day of operation. I felt duty-bound to report on one of the noodle dishes for my noodle blog, but also fell prey to the xiao long bao ("juicy dumpling") portion of the menu and picked up some Macau-style egg tarts for my Macau egg tart maven friend Alice.

I opted for the most conventional (and best benchmark) noodle dish, "Beef Hand Pulled Noodle Soup" and "Wild Boar Juicy Dumplings." The soup was a very solid and more or less conventional Taiwanese- style beef noodle soup (niurou lamian). The dark, beefy broth, typically sweet and dominated by notes of star anise was not as medicinal-tasting as some, but rich and satisfying. The noodles started out optimally chewy, but ended up a little on the soft side by the time I got to the bottom of the bowl. Since it was the second day of operation, there may have been timing issues in the cooking or delivery. It had a generous quantity of tender beef (rib eye, according to the menu), and the tender, small baby bok choy were a welcome alternative to the random stalky pieces you sometimes have to fight with in this type of soup. Overall, it was a bowl I'd gladly return for, were it not for the $14 price tag. I'll definitely be returning to try some other noodle dishes on the menu.

The Wild Boar Juicy Dumplings (XLB) were $8 for four. They came individually steamed in a ceramic spoon shaped more like a miniature ladle than a conventional Chinese "tiaogeng" spoon. They had great flavor (though different from typical pork XLB seasoning) with perhaps too much "soup" and not enough meat, but overall were a winning quartet of dumplings. My chief complaint about this dish would be the provison of the Cantonese red vinegar instead of black Zhenjiang vinegar for dipping.

The Macau-style egg tarts were $6 for three. My friend found that they did not measure up to her favorites from Sogo in Millbrae, and thought that the crust was not right for Macau-style egg tarts. I sampled half of one; I'm not a sweets person and never tried the egg tarts when I was in Macau, but I found them more similar to the ones I'd tried in Shanghai than Sogo's, with a texture more cream-cheesy and less custardy than Sogo's. They won't make anyone forget the egg tarts at Lillian Dan Ta in Shanghai, though.

One oddity of M.Y. Chinas menu is that beer is cheaper than tea. Anchor Steam (and I think Tsingtao and Yanjing) beer is $5.50, while teas start at $6. I actually ordered a pot of Iron Maiden, but when it hadn't shown up halfway through my meal I cancelled the order, so I can't comment on the service or the quality.

One great feature of M.Y. China is the counter which runs the entire length of the open kitchen, which makes for a great experience for solo diners. I was seated by the wok stations (closest to the entrance) but if I had thought to ask, probably could have been seated where I could watch the noodle crew at work.

Service, though somewhat chaotic at this early stage was extremely cheerful and informal enough to take some of the sting out of the relatively steep prices

M.Y. China
Westfield Centre
845 Market St. 4th Floor, San Francisco

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  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the initial report!

    Is lunch dim sum style with trays/carts or do you order off a menu?

    1 Reply
    1. thank you. proper tea service, with good vessels and serving ware, requires a much higher investment, labor and materials, than beer does. decent tea can be re-infused 4-6 x, so the cost isn't really greater than the beer, either, assuming they provide good service.

      1 Reply
      1. re: moto

        I'm well aware of that, which is precisely the reason I was hoping for the tea at the beginning of my meal, not in the middle or at the end.

      2. Made a couple of visits to M.Y. China during the holidays, once for a dim sum lunch with a friend and another for dinner by myself dining at the counter facing the wok station.

        My overall impression is this is an upscale restaurant that seems to fit the rest of the restaurants on that floor of the Westfield mall. The food seems to be a mix of traditional Chinese dishes to some "reinterpreted" dishes with twist in preparations or ingredients.

        For the dim sum, some of the things I enjoyed were the tea-smoked pork belly buns (although be warned that the slices or pork belly falls more on the fatty side) and mu shu pork tacos. The pork and crab juicy dumplings (XLBs) had a nice filling that wasn't dense but didn't really get a crab flavor. Still, nice broth and thin skin (although I think my steamer of XLB might have been a tad overcooked because the skin was sticky to the touch when I tried to pick them up with my chopsticks).

        Macau egg tarts were good, but similar to quality at Koi Palace.

        Some misses were the wild boar scissor-cut noodles. The fresh noodles were great, but the overall dish was so salted from soy sauce I could barely get any wild boar flavor from the bits of meat. And a multi grain rice dish steamed in lotus leaves might have been healthier but really wasn't that tasty. It had that (as you might expect) herbally flavor of a Chinese vegetarian dish.

        During dinner I really enjoyed the honey roasted lamb chops. Even though you get only five small lamb chops (for $24), they were done really well, a dry-roast like texture and not overly sweet. And a simple side dish of baby bok choy was fresh well cooked. Also a vegan version of mapo tofu was gratifying without the meat because the tofu seemed really silky and fresh and there was just the right amount of chili sauce for heat.

        For dessert, I tried the sugar egg puffs (Chinese donuts) that were grossly over sweetened by the sugar coating. It was such a waste, but the dipping sauces that came with it did help. (Raspberry, a nice chocolate, and creme fraiche).

        The meals feel more like a westernized restaurant than a Chinese banquet-style restaurant, but some of the dishes are done really authentic so you can appreciate that you're trying Koi Palace-like preparations than, say, PF Chang's.

        I like that they take reservations because there seems to be a crowd whenever they start serving. I made reservations for dim sum, which I can't do elsewhere (unless I'm in a group of 6 or more). I was only two people so nice to not have to wait for dim sum place. For dinner, I didn't make a reservation and just stood at line at 5:30 p.m. but easily got a spot at the counter. Martin Yan also was there that Saturday night walking around schmoozing with guests.

        This is the kind of place I would bring my Mom for the novelty of it all, and the special ambiance. But it is pricier than other decent Chinese restaurants around town.

        7 Replies
        1. re: singleguychef

          The dim sum sampler for $20 made a great lunch. The quality beat most of the dim sum restaurants in the city. It was also fun to watch the young chefs twirling flour to make noodles at the counter.

          1. re: vincentlo

            Went there for lunch and was underwelmed. Had the truffle pork dumplings and the knife cut boar noodles. The dumplings had no taste at all. No truffle taste, no pork taste. Tasted like mush. They were juicy though but the skin was also too thick. The dumplings at Yang Sing are much better.

            The knife cut boar noodle was okay. Kind of salty, and I like salt. The knife cut noodles were nothing special, similar to regular thick noodles I think. It had a texture a little like stir-fried rice cakes, which I prefer over these.

            The best part of my lunch was the service. Everyone was very friendly. Plus the decor is upscale and elegant. I like the open kitchen.

            Unfortunately, it was $35 for two dishes, not including tip. $18 for not so good dumplings wasn't worth it.

            I'm curious how this place will do in the long run given that the there's so many better options for Chinese food in the area, especially since Straits is right next door and has been fairly consistent after all these years.

            Oh, one question. As I was leaving, the manager asked what I thought of lunch. I said it was fine. But then on my way home, I was thinking maybe I should have said something (especially now since I'm writing about their mediocore food). I know I have very picky taste and a lot of people may disagree with me, that's why I didn't say anything. But he did ask, and maybe he was actually interested in hearing an opinion and might have done something about it for future customers. What do you think? Would you provide honest feedback?

            1. re: calalilly

              I ordered the same wild boar noodles and got a salty plate too. I think it's the lunch crew, because a friend had it for dinner and she said it wasn't salty then.

              The manager didn't ask me what I thought but if he did, I probably would have said my lunch was good (I did enjoy the mu shu tacos and pork belly buns) but that the boar noodles were too salty. I think saying something is salty is good feedback because that can be adjusted. But I would only say something if I had reaction to one dish specifically, because you're basically talking while leaving. (And you never know, he may have just been nice and not expecting a full review.) I wouldn't stand there going over every dish in the meal.

              1. re: singleguychef

                I think that's a good point. If you tell him a dish is too salty he can go back to the kitchen and check the next order himself to assess whether it's really saltier than they intend.

                1. re: singleguychef

                  >>And you never know, he may have just been nice and not expecting a full review.) >>

                  We have started giving more feedback once we've finished a meal. And without exception the mgr, host, owner, or waitstaff has thanked us sincerely. Many have commented that they find it frustrating that people complain in reviews, instead of telling them on the spot to give them a chance to correct things.

                  If your comments are offered as helpful suggestions, I think you'll find 98% of restaurants welcome getting quick feedback.

            2. re: singleguychef

              Scott Rodrick is the owner, he's a real gentleman. Stanford Gee is the manager. I enjoyed speaking with both of them.

              Let them know what you think.

              1. re: steve h.

                Appreciate the suggestions. I really hope their food gets better because my mom wants to go in a few weeks.