My dentist is across the street from Mayflower (Geary at 27th Avenue), and I stopped by today after my cleaning. Their dim sum menu has greatly expanded since my last visit, with a bunch of house specials I've never encountered before. It isn't obvious, however, whether there are people of any talent in the kitchen producing these items. I would really like to return with a squad of hounds so we can find out (like maybe next Friday after my follow-up appointment).
I asked what the couple at the next table were spooning from a pretty square dish, and it was Boiled White Nuts & Bean Curd Skin w/Pea Sprout in Supreme Broth. The White Nuts were gingko nuts, which were soft and creamy and tasted faintly like they smell when they fall off the tree in front of my house. They added a bit of pep to the fresh but mild bean curd skin and the beautifully-cooked pea sprouts. The Supreme Broth was pretty darn bland, I'm sad to say.
They feature many unusual rice noodle rolls. I got the rolls with shredded chicken and bitter melon. Nine of them came shiny as porcelain in a deep-dish pie plate. The bitter melon was julienned, and they'd done something to it to make it much less bitter than I've encountered elsewhere. I'm not sure that was ultimately to the good, because this dish too was very mild, notably low in salt. It had the usual thin sweet sauce to pour over the rolls. Other special rice noodle rolls had steamed spare ribs, deep-fried bean curd shrimp roll, and deep-fried flour crisp.
The menu seems to include all the standard Cantonese items, many Shanghai items, some of the standards of the Hong Kong-style places, and wacky ones like the shrimp and banana roll that I'd only ever seen at Koi Palace. I intended to get a whole bunch of stuff, but the kitchen closed before I could sample anything else but the deep-fried minced meat dumpling. That's the one with the same kind of wrapper as a sesame ball. These were grease-and-salt bombs of the same mediocre quality as most of what I've had at Mayflower over the years, compounded by having been reheated.
So all in all it was a tantalizing but inconclusive visit. My instinct tells me that they are trying to do too much, but people with more familiarity with regional specialties might be able to parse their menu better than I have. As I said, though, I will be back there next Friday...