1131 Grant Avenue (between Jack Kerouac Alley & Pacific Ave) |San Francisco, CA 94133 | 415.576.1818
So by now I think that you get that I am a hopelessly lazy person who often packs a lunch and brings it to work but then eats it for breakfast. Which means that most days I find myself on the prowl for lunch and am finding it increasingly difficult to find something decent for under $10. Of course if I’m wayward and order that nice cold fizzy diet coke, my bill after tax and the requisite dollar plus change in the jar, often ends up more in the range of $12-15. This is for to-go stuff like sandwiches, salads and other standard fare that are mostly pre-packaged for you to take back with you to eat at your desk or maybe on a nice bench in the sun if time permits. Whatever happened to the $5 lunch? I officially proclaim that to be a thing of the past. Yeah you can find something for $5 but it’s most likely something that I’d consider to be a snack more than a meal. I am the foodhoe after all… These days I get excited when I find a sit down lunchspot where I can dine in for under $10 and it’s a good thing that I work near Chinatown.
Yee’s Restaurant which has a variety of roasted meats and fowls hanging in their front window along with neon signs advertising beer. An odd combination if you think about it… I admit that I’ve walked by this nondescript storefront countless times on my way to Golden Gate Bakery without even seeing it. It is the kind of restaurant that makes you feel like you are missing out on something if you are illiterate like me and can’t read chinese… This is just one of the menus hanging on the walls, along with numerous sheets of paper taped up with equally mysterious signs. They do have the 3 plate special for $15.99 on their english menu, which are full sized ala carte plates that are meant to be shared.
We were served a light refreshing broth that had some berries and apples floating in it that is supposed to be good for you and aids in the digestion, it had a light refreshing body and definitely primed my tastebuds for the food to come.
The first plate was Steamed Chicken with Ginger topped with Scallions. This was delicious. The flesh was tender and soaked with the fragrant and velvety, ginger infused sauce. I could eat this whole plate by myself.
Preserved Pork with Lotus Root, was full of fresh crisp carrots, celery and snow peas tossed in a savory salty sauce. I really like the light, nutty flavor of lotus root and especially love its crunchy, slightly starchy texture. When I was a child I liked to pull it apart and watch the silken strands pull apart. What I like most about it is that it combines the best qualities of the potato and water chestnut which have the property of absorbing richness when cooked with fatty meats.
The dish was full of Preserved Pork slices that had astonishing pockets of fat with an ethereal texture that I can only describe as savory pork fat candies… The pork had been cured and aged until the fat was translucent, rich and velvety when you bit into it and at the same time sticky and chewy – perfect tossed with crisp and fresh vegetables.
Braised Tofu with Shrimp and Mushrooms is one of my favorite dishes because the squares of tofu are fried until golden brown and crispy and then braised in a savory sauce made of soy and ginger, and intensely flavored from the dried mushrooms. They absorb a great deal of flavor from the sauce, and have a toothsome chewy texture with a soft custardy interior.
The Beef Chow Fun, was a fine rendition full of the smoky charred flavor of a well seasoned wok and big pieces of beef.
Half of a Roast Duck, which is what Alexson had been dreaming about for days…. He said that he began to see things in triplicate halfway through the plate. We mostly stood back and watched in amazement.
There was always a line at the to go counter and on the left of the rack hang strands of that amazing preserved pork.
It was quite a feast, $7.50 each for all of that food (including a soda for me) and we couldn’t finish it all. We did have the unfortunate urban moment when a pungent fragrance of unwashed humanity invaded my consciousness and it was like the proverbial wave at a sporting event as heads turned in response. The cause of the disturbance was a paying customer, getting a bag of cheap eats to go, but the memory lingered… This is a decidedly proletariat establishment that serves the local community, construction workers as well as office workers, the kind of establishment where you will end up sharing a table with strangers. It has been around for a long time, serving hot sustaining food for very reasonable prices.