jai yun

I went to Jai Yun last night, and I have to say it was probably the best Chinese meal I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera and I missed a lot of the cold plates at the beginning since BART had problems and I had to run there. There are only a few tables in the place, and everyone’s dinner begins at the same time, because the chef has a fixed menu. The restaurant is prix fixe — you specify how much you’ll pay per head and they bring out dish after dish. It’s all small plates, so you get an amazing variety of food, all from around Shanghai. Afterwards the chef comes out of the kitchen and pretty much everyone applauds because the food was so damn good.

The most interesting thing about the meal was that most of the dishes were things I had never tried — abalone with eggs, this crazy grouper, tofu and celery, winter melon with ground pork, shrimp with ginko nuts, and so on. A few of the dishes were “familiar” from more American Chinese restaurants, but even these were wholly different in taste. The kung pao chicken was ridiculously spicy, but managed within that space to find a balance between the black and red pepper flavors. The orange beef thing was crispy thin slices of deep fried beef with a delicate orange flavor that just melted in your mouth.

All in all, it was a mouth-opening and wallet-emptying experience. Maybe I’ll go there again when I’m rich and famous.