Last Saturday time pressures forced two of us to cut out of the South Bay LimsterFest after the fantastic lunch at House of Yu Rong. Before heading back north, Rafe pointed the chowmobile toward one more destination while we were deep in Silicon Valley. Id wanted to check out Lees Steamed Foods recommended by grow power.
The first hold up was that Id recorded the address incorrectly, and when I tried to call, the phone number was out of service. Not auspicious. But we persevered determined to find whatever might stillbe there and spotted a Grand Opening sign outside Our Family Style Chinese Restaurant (472 W. Hamilton Ave., Campbell, 408-374-5833) in a strip mall across the street from the school. Might as well check it out.
Inside we were greeted by an enthusiastic young man with a Beijing accent as I took note of the tasty-looking shredded tofu and veggie salads on display. When I inquired about Lees and the dumpling man, he told us that the owner had retired. He said that his new business still makes/sells frozen dumplings and added confidently that he felt theirs were even better. He said that his cook was the head chef at the 4 star National hotel in Beijing for 30 years. The city business license framed on the wall had an effective date of May 1.
We decided to share two of the five kinds offered. While we waited for them to be packed, the pleasant young woman behind the counter was writing down the translations for Rafe. In English the five frozen dumpling styles that only appear on the Chinese menu, in order of listing, are:
First floor station small steamed soup dumplings (xiao long tang bao), 30 pieces, $15
Beijing number one pork dumpling, 30 pieces, $15
Pork and bok choy water dumplings (shui jiao), 50 pieces, $12
Chicken and napa cabbage shui jiao, 50 pieces, $12
Chive, dried shrimp and pork shui jiao, 50 pieces, $13
In the week since our field trip weve conducted our independent taste tests and agree that the xiao long bao are quite good. The restaurant recommended steaming them for 10 minutes from frozen solid and Ive gotten even better results by steaming for that period then turning off the heat and letting them rest for 3-5 more minutes. Theyre larger than average, the soup and filling inside is very tasty, and the wrappers are fairly thin (except that the top knot remains doughy). The shrimp and pork shui jiao are also nice with good texture, although I dont care for the dried shrimp taste in the blend and will try the other varieties next time. Ive gotten better results boiling the shui jiao for 10 minutes, instead of steaming them as the restaurant recommended.
Lastly Ill mention that I rushed back to San Francisco with the air conditioning on full blast trying to keep my dumplings from defrosting which actually worked. Next time Ill bring a cooler. (g)