6 July 2020

Yank Sing

I’ll get the vaccine before a haircut.

The first time I ate dim sum was at Yank Sing in the summer of 1974. I was staying in San Francisco while taking UC Berkley’s intensive summer Spanish course; and even though it was definitely intensive, I managed to cram in some recreation. This led to my befriending a Cantonese man, and I got to go along when he took a small group of us to Yank Sing. In those days, Yank Sing was located on Broadway; and the tables were so crammed together that instead of women pushing carts loaded with selections, muscular young Chinese men carried over their heads large platters. They lowered the platters to allow you to choose what you wanted, and you could ask them for items you’d not seen.

It was love at first bite, and the level of love increased throughout the meal; so I started taking groups of friends there immediately afterward. Over the years I discovered other dim sum places, particularly after Yank Sing dropped from their menu my favorite dish, a rich pastry crust molded around a center of minced barbecued pork. The transliteration is Char Siu Sou, the Chinese characters are 叉燒酥, and an English translation would be Barbecued Pork Pastry or something like that. My favorite place to get that treat before the shutdown was the Riverside Seafood Restaurant, but when dear ones were visiting I usually took them to Yank Sing’s spectacular Spear Street location.

Recently, as indicated in my The Vault Garden post, our mayor has OK’d outdoor dining; and when I heard that it would be available at Yank Sing’s Stevenson Street location, I quickly worked a visit into my schedule.

Fearing there would be a queue, I arrived at 49 Stevenson Street forty minutes early, but there was nobody there! A Chinese woman got there right after me and started banging on the door, at first to no avail; but she was relentless and eventually a woman appeared inside and motioned us to the left. At the north end of the restaurant, there was an alleyway alongside the restaurant and a door to the patio area where we could wait until the place opened.

As opening time approached, a server came out with a placard displaying a QR code and said that we could use it to look at the menu and make our selections. What!!!! I’d seen those things all over and had seen people using them for various purposes, but I’d never been forced to use one. To my great relief, when I browsed through the stuff on my phone, I saw an app that looked right. Clicked on it and sure enough, when I held my phone up to the placard, pop! there was the menu. Wow, might use this function again.

Then an employee came around and took my order, after which I was seated. It felt at first like we were going inside; but no, the whole northwest corner of the building is a covered patio open on two sides to the outdoors. The tables there were placed at a minimum of ten feet from each other, and the air circulated owing to the two open sides. The waiters and staff were all masked, and I noticed that the patrons I could see kept their masks on as they sat down and didn’t remove them until a drink arrived.

Even though the menu was cruelly truncated, there were enough choices for me to get a variety of dishes; and the quality was fully up to the high Yank Sing standard. As were the prices.

It was a lovely dining experience, and I’m putting out feelers to friends I think might join me there. Among the things that the shutdown has taught me is that for anything other than burritos, a rather large part of my enjoyment is my companion and I being served good food that we can eat right there at a table. Voilá, the outdoor restaurant.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic of the patio dining area.

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