The restaurant is big, clean and convenient. It’s in Westfield San Francisco, a big chunk of the fourth floor of the shopping mall is restaurants, and M.Y. China is one of them. Sitting 50 feet from the kitchen and you can smell the intoxicating fumes of dumplings. We order two Chinese classics: xiao long bao (pork & crab juicy dumplings) and niu ro mien (beef hand-pulled egg noodle soup).
The niu ro mien is good. Fourteen dollars. Melting tender beef, chewy noodle (not as chewy as I would like, but I’m not a fan of egg noodle anyway), dark, flavor-packed broth (which gets a bit too salty after a while and sends you drinking water like mad).
The xiao long bao‘s are dry. Twelve dollars for five. There’s not enough broth in them. The dumpling skin is dried up on top, the carrot slice at the bottom, which supposedly helps preventing the dumpling from sticking to the spoon, disrupts the harmony in texture. The pork filling? This is where my friend and I disagree.
The filling has ginger. My friend insists that: 1. xiao long bao should have a lot of ginger (to mask the flavor of the pork); 2. she has eaten a lot of xiao long bao over the years to know that it should have a lot of ginger; 3. she doesn’t notice the ginger in these xiao long bao, in fact, she added extra ginger to the dumplings to make them taste gingery.
I insist that: 1. these xiao long bao are too gingery (the pork and the crab are completely masked); 2. even with the pre-equipped knowledge that xiao long bao are supposed to have a lot of ginger, I don’t like these xiao long bao because they have too much ginger.
Of course, the natural question comes up: should you review food based on your knowledge of the food (how it should be) or based on your taste of the food (how it is)? Food reviews have both objective facts and subjective preferences, and as a reviewer, I don’t mix those two categories together. If I know with all certainty how it should be, I’ll include that statement in my review, otherwise, all of my reviews are about how it is (with respect to my taste buds). Is that too subjective? Sure. Are my preferences peculiar? Maybe. I don’t drink coffee and alcoholic beverages, and I don’t eat spicy foods. In general, I don’t like anything too strong. If a dish has one overwhelming flavor that masks everything else, I call it “one-dimensional”. I want to taste different flavor profiles in a dish, especially the natural flavors of the ingredients, which is why I’ve grown increasingly fond of raw seafood sushi and increasingly intolerating of cakes. So if you like strong flavors, the things that I like would be almost water to you, and the things that I say are too this or too that would taste just fine.
But surely, there must be others who share my preferences?
Logistics: M.Y. China is a new restaurant by Martin Yan and the owners of Koi Palace. It opened early this year, and it locates on the 4th floor of Westfield San Francisco Center, 845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103 – (415) 580-3001