M.Y. China, xiao long bao and food reviews

    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.

    Ice cream ($4 each) - toasted rice (left) and chinese walnut (right) - both remind me of grocery rice milk and walnut milk, which are sweeter than I would have liked.

    Ice cream ($4 each) – toasted rice (left) and chinese walnut (right) – both remind me of grocery rice milk and walnut milk, which are sweeter than I would have liked.

    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

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    6 comments to M.Y. China, xiao long bao and food reviews

    • $12 for 5 XLB???? YIKES! I’m also from the camp that does not like a lot of ginger in xiaolongbao – I’ve eaten a lot of XLB so maybe I don’t notice the ginger flavor either, but I feel like the flavors should be balanced for sure! That’s what makes dumpling-type food so good – they should have a little of everything!

    • Yeah, the more I think about the price, the more ridiculous it seems 😛 I wish we could make dumpling for a living and sell it at this price hehe 😛

    • Bob

      You sure went high brow for this one. MY China…what next, Hakkasan?

    • What do you mean? I just don’t like too much ginger, why is that high brow? 🙂

    • Bob

      No, M.Y. China is high brow. Expensive resto you chose this time.

    • Somehow I thought I first saw/read about it on your blog, so when Cheryl asked me to pick a place in that neighborhood I just chose this one, but I went to your blog just now and couldn’t find it… Hmm…

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