Monday night’s dinner with my parents was at Yee’s Restaurant on Grant Avenue in Chinatown. I was shocked to find it completely full and bustling at 7:30pm. But the seating was just about to turnover and we only waited a few minutes for a table to be cleared for us. While we’ve often stopped here for the tea-time specials or a quick lunch, this was our first dinner time visit. We made our selection from the three dishes for $15.99 menu, which is quite extensive with 59 choices and includes the complimentary house soup of the day.
Wow, and what a wondrous house soup it was made with a type of melon. Being a barbecue house, Yee’s has some mighty fine bones and meat pickings to contribute to the stock pot. After such a full-flavored first sip, my mom and I pulled the tureen closer to us to excavate and examine the contents more carefully. Marinated duck webs, chicken wing bones, swollen pieces of formerly crunchy and bubbled roast pig cracklings, goose neck meat, and other boney spent detritus were deposited on the bottom of the soup tureen, having yielded all their tasty essence to the tawny stock. This also had chunks of long-boiled carrots for sweetness and pieces of chayote-like melon.
Best dish of the three was the salt and pepper flounder. Very salty and bursting with flavor, the pieces of flounder were cross-cut into “sticks” including the bones, skin, roe, and crunchy fins. These had a thin dusting of starch and were toss-cooked with garlic, scallions, and fresh jalapeño chili slices. My parents said they’d never seen flounder presented this way and it was new to me too. But we love fish cooked on the bone and this had a special sweetness staying nice and moist. The flounder bones were easy to remove from these fish “fingers”.
Image of salt & pepper flounder on the bone -
The other two dishes were good enough but not nearly as memorable. Tofu with salted fish and chicken in clay pot was served in a sterile and soulless stainless steel mini-wok rather than in ceramic. But the tofu was very fresh and silky with just a hint of salted fish flavor. Spinach topped with minced beef was a huge amount of spinach, but with too much stringy stems and somewhat tough meat.
Image of the tofu and the spinach dishes -
The rice charge here is only 50¢ per person, bringing our total up to $22 with tax and tip. We took home more than half our food, and the tofu dish was even better after soaking up more of the juices. All in all, a cheap and more than satisfying dinner with some flashes of brilliance, plus enough for another meal. Cash only.
San Francisco Lunch Series chowdown at Yee’s (5/2004) -