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Jai Yun - Another fan (from an LA Hound)

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Jai Yun - Another fan (from an LA Hound)

kevin | Aug 10, 2004 01:50 AM

Well, I was going to be in SF so made a reservation here and it this highly regarded Chinese restaurant. From the exterior it doesn't look like much but the inside of the restaurant is clean and nicely decorated (not at all garish or tacky and there was no Christmas tree present). The waitress seated me and my friend and then handed us the menu, which is actually not really a menu since the document merely lists prices of the set prixe fixe meals plus their mission statement (starting at 35 bucks and going to a 100 for the highest end meal if i remember correctly). We took a quick look and decided on the $45 one.

By the way, this simple space is quite tiny with only about a half dozen tables, a couple of which are the banquet size tables. When we arrived one other table was already there and within minutes the joint filled up.

So to start they brought out the little plate dishes, kind of like mini-appetizers:

A layered tofu lightly sauced.
A delicious fish jerky, very flavorful and not at all fishy.
Parsley dish - the only one i didn't care for.
the pickled lotuses - extremley delicious.
Roasted peanuts.
Cucumbers topped with a marashino cherry (odd, as to why the cherrry was riding shotgun on the mound of cucumers but nevertheless quite good).
A jellyfish salad - once again good stuff.
An an unsmoked/salted beef cold cuts on top of deliciously pungent beans.

All these appetizers were excellent especially the fish jerky which I would have been happy to eat for the rest of night and be quite satisfied at that. I almost had to abstain from asking if I could purchase a bag of that stuff to go. Also, the waitresses who were hard-working only gave very limited, terse descriptions on each dish due to language problems.

As a side note, once the place fills up, the restaurant literally turns into a sauna, as there is no apparent air conditioner, and when I asked the waitresses about that they seemed confused and didn't know what I was talking about. Do they have some sort of AC? I hope so, but nevertheless for food this good I'd eat in a steam room.

Then came the main dishes:

Shrimp w/ vegetables - barely cooked delicious shrimp.
Abalone w/ egg whites - an absolutely tremendous dish that redefined abolone to me, the pieces of abalone were sliced thin and almost functioned as a fettucine-type pasta w/ the saucing of the egg whites.
There was a kung pao chicken - delicious, though maybe not exactly that exciting.
There were a couple different tofu dishes and also a wheat gluten dish all of which were quite delicious. Chef Nei Chia Ji has quite a handle on the creation of earth shattering tofu dishes.
A tremendous tangerine or orange fried beef followed -over course once again a beyond delicious dish, sadly there was only a couple bites for each of us, esp. for this dish.
And lastly there was there fried eggplant w/ peppers - in a word - delicious.

That ended the meal. Suffice to say, there was no dessert nary a fortune cookie in sight either. (I guess fortune cookies are only an American thing).

The whole meal was exceptional, service was great despite some miscommunications, and the whole experience was great.

I just wish that Jai Yun were in my neighborhood. Definitely up there among the very best Chinese food that I have ever had.

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