Sorry for the lack of updates--I've been extremely busy with my classes in full swing, one of which is a culinary class! The course is pretty intense though--two 75 minute lectures and a 3 hour lab. I have to say that being a chef is damn hard. Just the mise en place takes me forever because I'm so inexperienced. Another thing is the pacing; when you have to prepare 3 things simultaneously, you have to decide which steps to take depending on which foods oxidize or turn limp. Last week we made chocolate chip cookies from scratch and today we made cream of broccoli, autumn vegetable soup, and a cobb salad. Besides the cooking aspect, I've also been learning a lot of culinary terms which will make this blog juuuuust a bit less amateur. I am sure there will be many lab blooper stories to come.
Continued from my last post, I mentioned how the lighting at Jai Yun somehow turned dim. I really dislike taking pictures with flash, but I will include them underneath since it is difficult to discern what the food is.
Abalone with egg whites
The first entree to arrive was this delicious abalone dish. The abalone was fresh, tender, and juicy, not at all chewy or overcooked. The egg whites were silky, smooth, and delicate. The pairing of ingredients was great and the contrast of hard v. soft was interesting too.
Gluten with mushrooms and peppers
This entree was good, but nothing too outstanding. It was an interesting mix of textures, with the spongy gluten and the crisp vegetables.
Shrimp with ginko nuts
I really enjoyed this one. The shrimp was fresh and crisp; the subtle bitterness of the ginko nuts really brought out some of the more "hidden" sweetness of shrimp.
Tofu skin and edamame
I was extremely impressed by the thin tofu skin. After I had the real thing in Shanghai, I've searched far and wide in the States (fine, Bay Area and New York) for something similar. The skin here was just as smooth and tender, evident that it was probably home made. The picture to the right is fresh tofu skin with Chinese vegetables at some hotel in Shanghai.
I'm sure Chinese menus everywhere have something by the same name, but not many look like this. The beef was delicious--thinly sliced and crunchy, delicately light and not greasy. It had just a hint of sweetness and slices of fresh orange zest really made this entree delicious.
Chinese celery with bean curd
At my size, it is truly a wonderment to many how much I eat. At this point, I am getting a bit full; not just sated, but full. Having had the 8 appetizers and 6 entrees so far, I was beginning to get a bit overwhelemed. But I ate on.
This entree was another one of the vegetable stir-fries. Good, but not outstanding.
Pork belly with marinated vegetables
The pork belly was good--tender, juicy, and fatty--but this one really should go with rice. So far, all the entrees have been served without rice and not the least bit overwhelming, but this was sensory overload. Speaking of pork--I am craving some Thai charbroiled pork neck...
Wintermelon with minced pork
This was another one of my favorites. I really do commend the chef for his excellent pairing of ingredients and textures. The wintermelon was juicy and sweet, while the meat was savory and spicy. Unlike the pork belly, this didn't have to be served with any starch because the melon acted as a foil.
Chili garlic squid
When this arrived, the waitress warned us that it was quite spicy. I consider myself to have a pretty high spiciness tolerance, but this was seriously damn spicy. It doesn't really hit right away, but after a while your mouth just gets quite numb. That said, I didn't stop eating it. The squid was tender and fresh; also notice the chef's detailed knifework. His attention to detail is amazing.
Mung bean sheets with Virginia ham
The official starch of the night was also very good. The sheets were thin and chewy, and the stir fried fennel really added great aroma.
Kung Pao Chicken
This was probably my least favorite dish of all. The sauce was excellent--tangy and sweet without overwhelming the meat. However, the chicken was way too fatty and tender to be free-range. I was disappointed.
Fried candied eggplant
Hands down, this was the best ever eggplant dish I have ever had
(and I have had my share). The pieces were lightly breaded and fried so delicately that the outer layer was just carmelized and crispy. The sauce was tangy, sweet, and garlicky. When you bite into one, it just bursts with flavor. I remember every bite like it was just yesterday. The eggplant was the star of the meal.
Sweet and sour fish
Another good one; great crisp and great sauce. But nothing can taste good after the eggplant.
Chinese mustard greens, enoki mushrooms, and shark fin
This was the last entree of the night, and was indeed a palate cleanser. I didn't feel like we were eating the highest grade shark's fin, however. But overall this one was good.
The chef was nice enough to come out to greet us
Jai Yun was quite the eating experience. I am sure you as a reader are quite saturated just reading my post. I arrived at Jai Yun still full from another Tartine run but still ate til I could eat no more. I seriously wanted to call for a stretcher to carry me out. Overall, all the dishes were good, but I can't say all were outstanding. There were definitely a few standout dishes, such as the smoked fish, pickled cilantro, egg white + abalone, and the eggplant of my dreams
. I think the chef excels most at interesting ingredient parings and above all, a daring contrast of textures. It is also worth noting how he varied his dishes, vegetable after meat and sweet and savory.
As soon as I left the restaurant, all I knew was sensory overload. But with my tight schedule of eats, I had a nice cleanse of the palate the next day at Delica rf-1 and the omakase at Kiss Sushi a few nights after; I'll blog that next.
Labels: San Francisco, San Francisco (Cont.)