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Chowdown #32: Yank Sing with Galleygirl

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Chowdown #32: Yank Sing with Galleygirl

Ruth Lafler | Jul 1, 2002 10:10 PM

Four SF hounds (Derek, Rochelle McCune, Alexandra Eisler and myself) had a delicious dim sum lunch at Yank Sing with the delightful Boston hound Galleygirl.

No one took notes and the whole event was a chaotic feeding frenzy, but I was the last one there and will attempt to summarize. Unfortunately, I was at the far side of the table and didn't participate in the selection process, so I sort of lost track of what some things were. I also don't know the Chinese names for any of these dumplings.

First, in general the quality of the dim sum was excellent: expert, light, greaseless frying, thin but not flimsy wrappers. Second, for those not familiar with Yank Sing, it's not traditional dim sum, but a combination of traditional dim sum offerings and some creations inspired by Western ingredients. For example, one item we tried was halved avocados filled with a mixture of minced chicken and other ingredients (I don't like avocado, so someone else is going to have to round out the description). Finally, were had a table advantageously located next to the kitchen door, so we got first crack at everything while it was piping hot. The one special request we had was filled expeditiously.

We sat down and Derek started grabbing things off carts -- or at least it seemed that way [g]. In short order we had soft shelled crab lightly battered and deep fried; what looked like tortelloni made of spinach pasta filled with some kind of greens; crab cakes; several kinds of shrimp and lobster dumplings, both steamed and deep fried; mango and green tea puddings; steamed snap peas in soy sauce; spicy stir-fried green beans; sliced eggplant stuffed and lightly battered and fried; deep-fried shredded taro dumplings; Peking duck w/buns; bacon-wrapped shrimp with scallion; the avocado dish; something that may have been minced squab in lettuce cups; sesame balls; egg tarts; and dumplings stuffed with what the server said were "leaves from snap peas" (Galleygirl admitted she'd been unable to resist "previewing" Yank Sing Friday, and found these to be a standout). Now that I type this out, I can see how we spent $35/person! And chowhounds that we are, we pretty much cleaned the table, too. We washed it down with jasmine and chrysanthemum teas, served in beautiful glass pots (of a design that's in MOMA).

Galleygirl was right: the pea leaves had a strong peppery taste that was quite unusual. Other standouts from my point of view: whatever was in the lettuce cups, the egg plant with the crisp light coating and creamy center, and the egg tarts, which had incredibly flaky, moist shells. The most surprisingly delicious dish was the green tea pudding -- a rather offputting avocado color (remember I don't like avocado), but richly complex with flavors and aromas that developed in the mouth.

If I had to find fault, I'd say sometimes the food was a little too delicate -- sometimes it needed a hit of grease (the bacon-wrapped shrimp), or a bit more salt or seasoning. On the other hand, I didn't "doctor" any of my choices with any of the condiments on the table, which might have corrected these minor flaws (now that I think of it, a little Chinese mustard would have been great on the bacon-wrapped shrimp).

With all we tried (and I may have forgotten something -- feel free to jump in, guys), we barely scratched the surface of what was available. As you can see, we pretty much skipped the traditional fare, but it was there too, and looked just a well crafted. Truly a dizzying array of deliciousness.

The company as usual was stellar -- it was so much fun to meet Galleygirl and get to hear her take on the chow scene on both coasts. I was only sorry I had to rush back to the office rather than linger and chat a little longer.

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