Chowdown @ Brother Seafood 10-22-13 [San Francisco-Irving & 19th]
About 16 of us met up at Brothers on 19th & Irving for lunch today. We took over two tables & I was at the smaller table.
Off the Dim Sum menu:
(S-04) Steamed Chicken Feet w/Black Bean Sauce
-This was a nice, fresh rendition of classic paws, good texture-cooked nicely. No claws.
(S-10) Deep Fried Meat Turnover
(S-12) Crispy Taro Turnover
(M-01) Stuffed Green Peppers
(M-02) Stuffed Eggplant
(M-03) Shrimp with Parley Dumpling
(M-04) Shrimp with Spinach Dumpling
(M-05) Chiu-Chow Style Dumpling
(M-06) Bamboo Shoot with Oyster Sauce Roll
(L-01) Har Gow
(L-04) Vegetarian Crepe Roll
(L-10) Fried Shrimp Dumpling
(X-07) Beef Shank with Five Spices
(X-09) Sweet Rice
(X-15) Fried Stuffed Jalapenos w/Salt & Pepper
- This was by far the most delicious dish on the table. Almost a Maldon salt texture on top with more bright green, sauteed, jalapenos and green onion on top. Stuffed with shrimp paste and barely fried, no breading. I'd have ordered two of these, had I known their magic.
(X-16) Satay Squids with Pork Rind
- Sounds great, right? Yawn. So bland and the textures were too close between the squids & rind.
(X-21) Tofu Skin Ginko with Pea Tendrils
- Mmm-mmm. This dish was delicate and cleanly prepared. Every taste was unique but it all worked nicely together. Ginko nuts and whole garlic cloves! I got the leftovers on this. Whoop.
(X-24) Pumpkin with Salted Egg York
Not on the Dim Sum menu
Lobster Lo Mein
- Lobster was well prepared. Too much noodle, not enough taste. Really bland.
Would I go back? Maybe. I didn't try everything. I wouldn't bother with the dumplings, rolls or noodles on a next visit, average at best.
I was at the other table.
Dishes I liked best were the tofu skin gingko with pea tendrils, siu mai, and chicken feet. Spareribs, a dish I don't usually like, were juicy.
We had some kind of mushroom-stuffed beancurd that was tasty if messy. Turnip cakes were fluffy but bland.
Thomas shared a last bite of the crunchy sweet rice, and my table didn't get the fried stuffed jalapeños.
If I were nearby, I'd give it another try. Our total came to $15 each with tax and tip.
Potstickers had tasty filling but were too thick and nearly burned. Pumpkin with salted egg yolk was so dreadful looking I didn't try it. (I get this at S&T on Noriega all the time.) Baked pork buns were sticky and too sweet.
Overall they do not have a light touch with dumplings or buns. Dinner might be a better choice.
Enjoyed this place - best of the recent trials on the N side of the City. Compares well with All Season Restaurant on Diamond Hts for dim sum, but not in Koi's class.
Best was the surprising Fried Stuffed Jalapeños, nicely balanced salt pepper taste. Also the Sweet Rice got my attention as a nicely balanced and interesting rendition.
Pumpkin was just in a fried batter with no hint of Salted Egg Yolk as in the definitive Hakka Rest. version. Poor. Lobster Lo Mein was boring. Never a fan of the Stuffed Green Peppers, this seemed even more overcooked than usual for me.
It was interesting how the table seemed to agree on the winners and losers except with regard to the various steamed dumplings. I think mostly people were happy with the various fillings, but some thought the wrappers too thick. I was surprised by this as my first impression was how light and thin the skins were. I think Melanie remarked that she noticed various thicknesses on the two steamers of one of the items. I now suspect that may have been what happened. I got ones with thin skins and so was happy with them. Maybe it is a quality assurance problem.
Some interesting options I haven't seen before were on the list. The Squid and Pork Rind was not worth the bother. The Tofu Skin Ginko [seeds] and Pea Tendrils was nice but parsimonious with the apparently luxurious Ginko.
Better dim sum on the Peninsula, but in SF this is not a bad choice and is a pleasant place with good service that can handle large tables.
I was the designated reporter for the "other table" (let's call it "Table 2"). Here's what we had—
S-01 Siu Mai
S-02 Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce
S-04 Steamed Chicken Feet w/ Black Bean Sauce
S-06 Egg Yolk Bun
S-07 Pan Fried Turnip Cake
S-16 Pan Fried Pot Sticker
L-02 Shrimp Crepe Roll
M-02 Stuffed Eggplant
M-04 Shrimp with Spinach Dumpling
M-07 Sesame Seeds Dumpling
M-08 Bamboo Shoot with Oyster Sauce Roll
M-10 Baked BBQ Pork Buns
L-08 Crispy Lobster Turnover w/ Salad Sauce
X-06 Haslet with Turnip
X-08 Seaweed with Beef Shank
X-13 Squids with Salt & Pepper
X-21 Tofu Skin Ginko w/ Pea Tendrils
X-24 Pumpkin w/ Salted Egg Yolk
My favorite dish was the Seaweed with Beef Shank, a cold dish with great pickles and tasty beef slices. I'll give the others at my table a chance to comment before adding additional impressions.
I was also at "table 2". The beef shank with seaweed and picked vegetables, the first of the dishes to arrive, was my favorite of the day as well. The contrast between the sweet pickled cabbage and the salty five-spice flavored beef made for a great combo. The bamboo shoot with oyster sauce roll, which was rolled in tofu skin, was a surprisingly tasty dish, although I had no idea what the filling was when I tried it. Other dishes I liked were the siu mai, the spareribs, the pot stickers, and the sesame seed dumpling (covered in glutinous rice and dusted with crushed peanuts).
I was not impressed by the shrimp and spinach dumpling (it seemed bland), salt and pepper squid (a little overlooked and under seasoned), the lobster turnover (deep fried in a pastry crust seems a waste of an expensive ingredient, if it really was lobster, as I couldn't tell), the haslet (tripe) with turnip (the tripe tasted a little too much of barnyard for me, although I like the idea of pairing it with sweet turnip), the turnip cake (usually a favorite, was a little bland), and the pumpkin with salted egg yolk, which just tasted like deep fried pumpkin, with no hint of saltiness.
The rest of the dishes were either OK, or I hadn't tried them elsewhere to compare. I would not go out of my way to have dim sum at Brother Seafood, and their preparation of the seafood dim sum dishes I tried makes me wary of trying it for dinner, despite enthusiastic CH recommendations.
The shrimp with spinach dumplings were better than the mushy version at All Seasons but still not very flavorful. I'm the guilty party who keeps ordering this dish, thinking I had a great version of it in the past, but I may have been confusing it with shrimp and pea sprouts dumplings, which often contain conpoy and can be wonderful.
The siu mai were plump and fairly flavorful, good value for $2 on the small dim sum menu. The shrimp roll had an unusual sauce that I couldn't figure out or decide if I liked. It was interesting but I think I prefer the more standard treatment.
The egg yolk bun was quite small (but priced accordingly) and had a nice flavorful filling, though I prefer fried versions to this steamed white bao. The BBQ pork buns didn't have much pork flavor, perhaps because the pork was diluted by crunchy vegetables which added texture. The texture wasn't that interesting and I wouldn't order this again.
Pumpkin with salted egg yolk should have a crispy eggy coating but this rendition was wet and mushy with little salted egg flavor. The squash was decent quality and the right doneness but that wasn't enough to save this loser.
The service was friendly and attentive except that I had to ask twice to get mustard.
I was at table 2..I was disappointed with most... if not all of the offerings...I found most tasteless and bland..although some like the chicken feet had good texture..I kept chewing on things hoping to extract some taste but for me it was hopeless....loved the company as usual!!!
On to the next one...!