Last week a friend and I had dim sum lunch at Mayflower on Geary (near 27th) in San Francisco. This is one of his favorites and it was my first time here. We were surprised to find that there was still a line waiting for tables at 1pm on a weekday. There were still some people waiting an hour later. The smallish dining room was somewhat cramped with tables spaced close together, but it was quieter than many of the other tea houses. We had a pleasant spot at a window table in the corner.
On week days, items are ordered from a check list and brought out hot and fresh directly from the kitchen. Aware of the Dim Sum Civil War protocol, he asked if we were bound to order the standard dishes. I laughed and said that I was looking forward to trying some different things that he would recommend.
Two items that fell out cold soy-poached gooseweb on a bed of candied soy beans (depicted below) lacked much flavor, and the scallop dumpling was mostly shrimp with a scant taste of scallop. He said the scallop dumpling has been better before. Fried taro dumplings were lacy but hard on the exterior, yet the filling was well-seasoned and intense underneath a glutinous and rough textured layer of fresh taro (not powdered). The deep-fried tofu skin roll was filled with braised veggies wrapped in amazingly thin sheets of bean curd that shattered with each bite. This was greasier than it should be, but was so tasty. Very good to excellent items were har gow with skins a bit thicker than the best filled with deftly seasoned whole shrimp and minced bamboo shoot bound with shrimp forcemeat, the shrimp rice crepe was very tender with an assertive and somewhat sweet sauce, salt and pepper fresh calamari were sweet and tender flecked with scallions, garlic, fresh chilis, and crunchy panko, and warm and softly chewy peanut powder coated mochi balls oozing with black sesame paste.
In addition to a pot of chrysanthemum tea, we popped open a half-bottle of 2001 Selbach-Oster Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling Spätlese. Spriztig and lively on the palate with medium sweetness and floral, stone fruit, and slatey minerality in a light and crisp frame. The perfect luncheon wine.
Overall, I felt the food compared favorably with the top echelon of high-end dim sum houses tried in the Dim Sum Civil War. Id put it just a notch below Harbor Village, the trio in Millbrae, and Koi Palace. Vis-à-vis its Richmond neighbors, I thought the food and friendly service beat Yet Wah, Ton Kiang, Tong Palace, and Parc Hong Kong.
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