(Martin) Yan can cook – M.Y. China, San Francisco, USA

I’m a sceptic when it comes to restaurants owned or managed by celebrity chefs especially those with a huge TV persona. Having eaten at some of these restaurants, I’ve reached the conclusion that these chefs are so often busy with their reel lives that they forgot about their real lives. As a result, they leave their kitchens to their cooks and the standard just deteriorates. Hence, you have to forgive me when I was rather hesitant to dine at Martin Yan’s Chinese restaurant, M.Y. China.

It was by chance that I come across M.Y. China. I was shopping at Westfield San Francisco Centre and happened to walk past the restaurant. Seeing a huge crowd dining inside the restaurant, my partner wanted to lunch at the restaurant. Whereas the cynic in me just wanted to avoid another potentially huge disaster. Thankfully, we ate at the restaurant and we were impressed with the food quality and the creativity that went into these remarkable dishes.

Martin Yan's M.Y. China

We, each, had the two-course lunch when we first lunched at M.Y. China. The two-course lunch consists of a soup and an entrée. The soups are Westlake Wonton Soup and M.Y. Hot & Sour Soup. For the entrée, they are Hong Kong Crispy Noodle with Chicken XO and Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles. We also ordered the Baked Roast Chicken Bao and the Wild Boar Lettuce Cups.

Wild Boar Lettuce Cups

The Baked Roast Chicken Bao is simply gorgeous. This bao is as authentic as those you get in Hong Kong. The savoury chicken filling is entrusted within a soft pillowy bun. And it is then baked till the outer layer turns to a nice golden brown. The Wild Boar Lettuce Cups is no less impressive. The crispy fried scallions and tender wild boar meat provided so much taste and texture.

Baked Roast Chicken Bao

Since it was a two-course lunch, we managed to have everything on the menu. The Westlake Wonton Soup is slightly different from the usual wonton consommé. The Westlake Wonton Soup has a more starchy texture and is mixed with lots of egg white. But the highlight is the sumptuous wontons. They are huge and wrapped with fresh succulent shrimps.

The M.Y. Hot & Sour Soup is also deviates slightly from the usual hot and sour soup. M.Y. China’s version has a slightly more refreshing tangy taste to it. It is packed with lots of silken tofu, black fungus and wild seasonal mushrooms.

Westlake Wonton Soup

I wouldn’t advise visiting Asians to order the entrée individually especially when they plan to order more side dishes. This is because each entrée is good for two adults!

Between the Hong Kong Crispy Noodle with Chicken XO and the Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles, my partner and I prefer the latter. The wild boar meat is very tender and it complements the thick handmade noodles perfectly. Although the Hong Kong Crispy Noodle with Chicken XO is good, it pales in comparison.

Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles

What really wowed us at the meal is the Lychee Panna Cotta. While I’m a huge dessert fan, my partner is not. Surprisingly, we both agree that this innovative Lychee Panna Cotta is outrageously good. The smooth panna cotta is infused with lychee flavour but it is the chrysanthemum granita that really blew us away.

The grated ice is actually solidified chrysanthemum tea! The fragrant granita really adds another layer to this otherwise simple dessert.

Lychee Panna Cotta

The food was so good the first time that we went back the following day. Instead of ordering the set menu, we decided to go ala carte.

This time, we ordered the Bang Bang Chicken Wings, Scallion Lobster Claypot, and Beef Hand Pulled Noodle Soup.

The Bang Bang Chicken Wings are so addictive. When grilled, the Chinese wine marinated wings have a sweet thin layer of the caramelised wine. The fragrance of these wings is simply intoxicating!

Bang Bang Chicken Wings

The Beef Hand Pulled Noodle Soup is a common Chinese noodle dish that is commonly found in South-east Asian countries and also in Hong Kong. Although it is tasty, I do not find it overly exciting.

Beef Hand Pulled Noodle Soup

However, this cannot be said for the Scallion Lobster Claypot. My partner, who is a seafood lover, said this is the best lobster that he has ever eaten. One important aspect of Chinese cooking is the “wok hei”, which is the heat from the wok. And the chef can only achieve this “wok hei” when there is enough fire from the stove and heat from the wok. The Scallion Lobster Claypot manages to encapsulate this important Chinese culinary technique! With the key element in place, the fresh lobster just shines through. With the clear glass noodles or vermicelli, this dish is made in heaven for any lobster lover.

Scallion Lobster Claypot

For once, I walked away from a celebrity chef restaurant feeling great! Martin Yan has lived up to his celebrity status and he deserves recommendation for bringing great Chinese food to San Francisco.

M.Y. China
Westfield San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States
Tel: +1 415 580-3001

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