Clearly, I made two big mistakes in the Dim Sum foray.
First, going three times, and having the best of my life; my favorite in Boston will never seem quite the same(sigh!!!)
And second,trying to compare Yank Sing to ABC, like comparing apples and oranges, or maybe something more exotic, like comparing papayas to durian.
I adore Yank Sing; I went twice, without and then with, the hounds. Both times were sublime experiences, but what YS serves transcends Dim Sum..I thought of it as perfect fusion tidbits, each plate the sort of thing I'd swoon over if it were presented as an app. at a restaurant like, say, Blue Ginger...And each one was like that; the creativity kept upping the bar, and I wanted to try everything--they might not have it again! But, as Ruth pointed out, we DID stick to the non-traditional items, perhaps if we relied more heavily on the tried and trues, like turnip cakes and fried calamari, it would have been a less-clouded issue..But all the things we would have missed! I have to agree with Ruth, it's so different from any dim sum available in Boston or NY, that it's a must visit for the NY hound who was visiting, or anyone else..As I ran up my solo check, I just kept repeating, "It's cheaper than lunch at the French Laundry..." (I only admitted to the other hounds that I'd been there before because I was afraid that the waitstaff would remember me for eating so much!)
Dim Sum at ABC was an experience!!! A tableful of hounds, Ed and Lambert making requests and giving orders from both ends of the table, everyone making sure I got a taste of everything,(okay, 2 tastes of everything!!) and Lambert sharing his broad knowledge of Dim Sum lore..My only regret is that I didn't get to go to ABC TWICE, like I did to Yank Sing!
But ABC took traditional dim sum to new heights..I thought I knew great dim sum. Wrong! What's the Olympic motto, "Faster, higher, stronger"? ABC's should be , "Lighter, juicier, crisper"..
I mean, they took all the traditional favorites, and just made them better.
Chive and shrimp dumplings, always a must-have, had a thinner wrapper and more juiciness...Could it be(gasp!) less lard than in Boston? Fresher chives? I felt none of the heaviness I sometimes feel after dumplings at home; since I don't eat meat, that lard kinda "sits there" for a few hours, if it's in the food..Not the case this time, altho that could have been the quickly habit-forming Cook-Po tea, a blend that tasting intense, like Chinese herbs, my new favorite..Revered for it's grease-cutting properties..
Though there was little grease to cut here. Tofu skin wrapped around shrimp, often too doughy for my taste, was crackley and crispey, rolled thin as a sheet of filo.
The Chinese broccoli, which I had to be _forced_ to finish, was, as advertised, a whole different vegetable than I'm used to. So fresh and sweet; I was worried about taking up valuable stomach space..Lambert was right, they don't send us the good stuff back East. The Chow Fun with XO sauce was so flavorful, I didn't use any of the Hoisin sauce for it..Once again, the texture of the tubes thinner dough really melded well with the sauce. I was in heaven.
Another of my favorites were the shrimp balls covered in corn kernels, a nod to fusion, I suppose, for this more traditional restaurant, but the extreme sweetness and lightness hinted at corn also mixed into the ball, as well as some shrimp roe; I saw more orange than just shrimp-shell pigment.
And the egg-yolk tart had a different crust than the typical lard-crust pastry; a short-bread like cookie dough, so crumbly that we couldn't share them, but had to each eat a whole one!
The only noticeable difference were the plates of straight seafood (mussels in pepper sauce, clams in black-bean sauce, snails, etc.) that poupulate dim sum carts in Boston. Didn't see any in either place..In typical Cal fashion however, plates of veggies (the wonderful Chinese broccoli, the green beans in black bean sauce...) were much more evident than back home...
I feel that I fell short in my responsibilities in setting the parameters of this challenge (vbg). Talking to Derek and some of the SF hounds made me think that some of the more traditional SF dim sum places, (Ton Kiang?A Hakka place? Harbor Village? The list is clearly up for debate!) would have made for a more realistic comparison. Clearly, the only way I can absolve myself is to come back out and try again!
I had such an amazing time with both groups of hounds, what an extended pack we have! When I've told people that I was in California, and two groups of people I'd never met before showed up for spontaneous chowdowns, and shared such fabulous meals and company with me, they couldn't get over it... I haven't either!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!
We'll be taking care of LImster in Boston, (tho he seems to be doing damn well on his own!!), but when any of you come through, rest assured, the Boston hounds will pull out all the stops!
((Sorry it took so long, guys, but it would have been rude to spend my last day as a house guest hogging the computer, and ignoring my friend! After we finished, Derek and Scott and I went for a post-prandial stroll down the aisles of Ranch 99, where I bought King Salmon and the famous sweet pea pod leaves for dinner, (No, Scott, I didn't wimp out and buy pre-cooked at Ranch 99!)..Then of course, the Chinese broccoli and more pea pod leaves to import home!))
I didn't know which thread to post this under, so to avoid redundancy,
here are links to Ruth's report on Yank Sing,
My Yank Sing comments,
And the Yimster's lovingly detailed report on ABC,