Thursday, January 03, 2008

Yank Sing - San Francisco

The morning of our second day in San Francisco, with the success of our previous evening restaurant discovery - Café de la Presse - still on our minds, Senora Foodblog and I began walking toward North Beach while passing through China Town on the way. We had plans to meet an old friend downtown around noon and have lunch at the renowned Dim Sum restaurant Yank Sing. Until then, we were on a mission of discovery and decided to just let our feet guide our way.

Walking through China Town, I stopped at a small grocery store and was blown away by what I saw. Huge bags of dried mushrooms, shark fins of all sizes, dried sea horse and many bags of wild ginseng. These are the few items I actually recognized. And the smell, I won’t even try to describe to you. I truly felt out of my element.

As we came to Washington Square we turned left onto Columbus Street, and entered the North Beach Area or “Little Italy”. Beautiful little deli’s tempted us with windows full of salami, proscuitto, and mouth watering breads. A seemingly endless choices of places to eat, Calzone's, Figaro Ristorante Italiano, L'Osteria del Forno and even America’s oldest Italian restaurant Fior D'Italia lined the street before us. Quaint little places to sit and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine, sample a sandwich or a plate of fresh pasta were just starting to rock with the early lunch crowd. This had to be one of my favorite neighborhoods the Señora and I visited during our trek through the city. So much like parts of Chicago or New York, I just loved it. Señora Foodblog and I came back a few days later and had what I think was our best meal in California at the North Beach Restaurant.

As we kept walking, we quickly found ourselves at The Cannery and Fisherman’s Wharf. Señora Foodblog was eager to visit the Boudin Bakery at Pier 41 while I was looking forward to the Dungeness crabs on display at the many crab shacks. At the Boudin Bakery, we ducked into the coffee shop, grabbed some drinks and a table. The Señora took this opportunity to try some Boudin sourdough bread. She tells me that the yeast culture used in the bread has been the same for over a hundred years.

Jumping a trolley, it was time to start for Market Street and hookup with our friend Joe B. If you are a cigar smoker in the Bay area then you may know Joe from the Grant’s Tobacconists Cigar Shop. Lucky for us, when we arrived, he wasn’t too busy, and was able to join us for lunch. We were headed to Yank Sing which is rumored to be the best Dim Sum served outside of China Town.

We had missed the lunch rush of dim sum-deprived office workers, whom I understand are usually lined up out the door. Giant windows allow plenty of light to fill this stylish restaurant. The second our drink order was taken, the dim sum began to arrive. With a selection of over 80 different items on any give day, a person could spend a lot of cash trying to sample everything available:

Stuffed Lotus Leaf
Spring Roll Crisp
Scallion Prawn
Peking duck
Potsticker (Wor Tee)
Stuffed Crab Claws
Yank Sing Fried Won Ton
Egg Custard Tart
Mango Pudding

This is but a short list of the many plates of food offered us. The food was fantastic. Before we knew it, our table was covered with plates. My favorite had to be the Stuff Crab Claws - crab and shrimp mousse croquette encasing a whole snow crab claw, deep-fried until golden brown. Just to die for. I had five! Senora Foodblog really went for the many different types of dumpling offered, so many we couldn’t keep track. I was a little overwhelmed by the rush of food plus I never saw any prices for the food. I had no idea how much we were spending as we chose plates from the carts. Happily, our meal, enough to fill three plus some beers and hot tea only came to $85 + tip. I was very pleased with our meal and the incredible service. Check out Yank Sing’s web site for beautiful pictures of their food and sample menus.

Senora Foodblog was ready to begin some serious power shopping. Feeling mercy on me, she bids me farewell and heads off with the credit card. I on the other hand ambled back to the hotel, kicked off my shoes and digested a most wonderful lunch. Our evening plans involved dinner with Joe B. and Brother-in-law-Food, who just happened to be in town on a gig. Our goal was a sushi feast at a little place on Filmore; you may know it, Tsunami.

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