Friday, July 15, 2011

Ignoring the "10 Famous Dishes" List at Yuet Lee

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

click to enlarge Yuet Lee's shrimp with scrambled egg rice plate, $6.50 - W. BLAKE GRAY
  • W. Blake Gray
  • Yuet Lee's shrimp with scrambled egg rice plate, $6.50

Rice Plate Journal is a yearlong project to canvas Chinatown, block by block, discovering the good, the bad, and the hopelessly mediocre. Maximum entrée price: $10. (Thanks to Caroline Chen for additional reporting.)

Anyone unfamiliar with Cantonese food will find it hard to feel lost ordering at Yuet Lee. In fact, it'd be hard to lose sight of Yuet Lee -- you could probably spot that electric-green exterior through the fog from the top of Coit Tower. Newcomers can't -- and shouldn't -- ignore the list of the restaurant's "10 famous dishes" taped up next to the kitchen window. Steamed oysters on the shell, make the list, as well as spare ribs, clams with black bean sauce, and the ultrafamous salt-and-pepper squid, which I used to make midnight runs for back in the 1990s. 

Sam Yu has owned Yuet Lee for 33 years, operating out of the same location. Yu is the rounder, smiling guy in all the photos of famous people, chilling with with Nicolas Cage, competitive eater Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, and Jackie Chan. Famous people eat famous food.

click to enlarge Hard to miss Yuet Lee's acid-green exterior. - W. BLAKE GRAY
  • W. Blake Gray
  • Hard to miss Yuet Lee's acid-green exterior.

Rice Plate Journal's $10 limit blocked me for the first time since I've taken on this project. Most of Yuet Lee's entrees fall in the $10 to $12 range, with the famous dishes costing a little to a lot more. But at the back of the menu is a list of rice plates, dishes so simple the chef can knock them out in 90 seconds and return to the table where his co-workers are kibitzing, while CNN's talking heads lecture the uninterested from a television hanging from the ceiling. Even on a quiet Thursday afternoon, Yuet Lee never feels sleepy.

The curls of squid with tender greens we ordered were a little tough and underseasoned. But the shrimp with scrambled eggs made up for it. The eggs were scrambled into starch-thickened chicken stock at the last minute so they formed a glossy sauce that looked as if it contained thousands of shreds of yellow silk. The sauce covered a plate of rice, blending together as I scooped it up with a fork. Bright green peas popped between the teeth, echoes of the fat, juicy, coral-colored shrimp. Yuet Lee's shrimp with scrambled eggs may not have been famous, but it still hit the spot.

Yuet Lee: 1300 Stockton (at Broadway), 982-6020.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Jonathan Kauffman


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.