Chinese >Jai Yun
680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9413337.794570 -122.404449
Neighborhoods: Northeast, Financial District
Hands down the best Chinese food in US – We’ve been going to Jai Yun since 2002. Chef Nei is nothing short of an artist and genius when it comes to Chinese cuisine. I am Chinese and I have never had better Chinese food in US anywhere. His style is unique, similar to Omakase in Japan which means “entrust” in Japanese, roughly translates to “chef choice.” As with Omakase, chef Nei will serve different multiple courses based on the type of Omakase that customer has chosen, and each course is carefully selected and prepared by him.
Depending on which price fixed you select, the number of courses and types of main ingredients would vary. The feast always starts with cold dishes like house-smoked fish, thinly sliced braised beef shank, Jelly fish salad, Enoki mushroom salad, spicy shredded Napa cabbage, 5-spiced bean curd with cilantro and pine nuts, thinly sliced crunchy lotus roots, cucumber salad, etc. The first course of hot dishes is usually the Abalone Foo Young. It’s not the Americanized Egg Foo Young that looks and an overcooked omelet with gooey sauce all over it. This is the real deal. Foo Young means velvet in Chinese. The texture of the egg white in the Abalone Foo Young is velvety, delicate, and the flavor is and out of this world. The thinly sliced Abalone is the most tender abalone we’ve ever had. We always fight to lick the serving spoon at the end, so that every bit is devoured.
Depending on the amount that you want to spend, season and freshness of the ingredients, he may serve Shanghainese crystal shrimp, sauté Chinese celery with tofu and Chinese yellow chives, tofu skin (yuba in Japanese) stir fried with fresh soy beans and tiger lily flower buds (it’s suppose to make you smart, so they say…it hasn’t worked for me yet), orange peel beef (unlike any orange peel beef you’ve ever had), the real-deal spicy Kung Pao chicken (NOT breaded & deep fried), stir fried mung bean noodle sheets with house-cured Chinese-style ham and baby leeks, steamed winter melon topped with spiced pork ragu, braised Shanghainese pork ribs and taro root. All wonderful, but don’t expect detailed descriptions, as English may be limited. The list can go on and on if you are willing to pay the price, just like the high-end restaurants in Northern California like Michael Mina, Cyrus, French Laundry, Gary Danko, Ame, Koi, etc. You get to choose how much you want to spend and chef Nei will serve you a meal that you won’t forget. The only difference is his price will be a lot less than the fore mentioned restaurants. Because, you won’t be paying for the high rent, fancy décor, professional wait staff, highly compensated maître d’ and sommelier, fancy crystals and silverware, high stocking costs of premium spirits and wines. What you pay for is the amazing food; course after course.
I’m so glad that he now opens for lunch during the week with less expensive price fixed menu. Reservations for lunch is highly recommended, and it's required for dinner. I still prefer dinner there, it’s more expensive, but what can I say, I want to have all of the courses. Lunch is a great compromise though, because not all of my friends can afford to go there for dinner every time. I can’t wait to go again next week, it’s making me hungry just thinking about it. If Jai Yun were right down the street from us, I’d go there at least once a week. Oink! Oink!
I will be back!!! – Jai Yun is now at 680 Clay Street, San Francisco, 2 blocks away from the former location. My wife and I had the $65 / person dinner. We had a total of 18 different S to M size fine dishes one L size final dish. Since I lived in Hong Kong for over 16 years, this particular branch of Chinese cuisine brought back a lot of fond memories, as dishes like these were only served in private supper clubs, such as club houses established in Hong Kong for people from the same root far away in mainland China, aka word-by-word in Chinese "same-village-society". Everything that was served to us at Jai Yun was as fresh as it could be, perfectly executed, served at a temperature that was supposed to be consumed right away, which also explains why the size of the dishes was best kept S to M so that you would not have to eat a lot of the same thing over a long period of time while the temperature drops and texture changes. It is like a banquet without having to invite 15 friends to share. If you love food, this would be a TRUE fine dining experience. Suggestion: make reservation early, be on time, be ready for a 2 straight hours of well planned dining experience, bring cash as credit card is not accepted, and very important, listen to your server's valuable suggestion(s).
5 Stars for quality of food, 5 Stars for quality of service, 5 Stars for dinning experience, 5 Stars for being clean, 3 Star for interior decor (not my priority as a food lover), hence Overall 4.5 Stars.
Overpriced, overhyped, awful – Hosted a party of 12 (half Chinese-speaking; half not) for dinner and was extremely disappointed from beginning to end. Knew in advance the cost, so that was not the issue, but the food was extremely oily and overly sweet, even for Shanghai cuisine. The servings were small; even with 2 small children who did not eat, none of the adults had enough to eat--everyone only got a bite or so of each dish. Worse yet was the extremely rude service. The restaurant only had 4 tables occupied while we were there and fewer than 25 people, including us; yet the waitress snapped (in Chinese) that she was too busy to bring a knife to help serve a meat dish. She then proceeded to ignore further requests for water or tea for the rest of the evening. This was a horrific experience and I would never recommend this restaurant to anyone. It became the subject of all jokes for the rest of the week end as people asked if they should bring their own food and beverages when we went to other restaurants!
It is good, but definitely overpriced – The quality of the food is very good. However it is not excellent as it always want people to believe. The portion is small if not tiny. For all the few times I went, the dish has never really make me "wow!". Its dishes are basically very good for Chinese home made family dinner. The price they charge is definitely not justified. I have way better experience with Spanish or French chefs. The quality of their dishes is good in Bay area standard, comparing with all the other aweful chinese restaurants (full of soysauce, pepper, msg) in this area. But it is not even close to what the chef claim to be. If you visit china, you will find that almost any average chinese retaurants in China can beat it hands down in quality, of cause, quantity and price.
Elegant food, amazing tasting experience – This place is AWESOME!! I swear you CANNOT find any other better Chinese food in the bay area. Everything is a piece of art. I spent a wonderful night with my hubby and paid 80 dollars per person. The food was so elegant and worth every penny that we spent. We love the abalone dish. If you want to just simply fill up your stomach with lots fat and grease for a few dollars, you DO NOT go in here. Although decoration is very simple, we felt very comfortable as like eating at home.
What a Joke! – This place used to be good - now it really is a joke. Do they think they're the next Gary Danko? I went there with 7 others, we paid $45 each to get about 9-10 plates of food for the table! What's worse, each plate only had a tiny portion of food. Since it was served family style, we each only had a scoop/taste of the entre. When averaged out, it was about $40+ a plate! We all left hungry and highly dissatisfied.
I can't imagine this place getting any repeat business, it is making a living preying on the innocent who rely on Zagat and Citysearch reviews. I would not recommend this place to anyone and certainly will never go back.
Not Worth the Price of Admission – Over the past year or so this place has gone from very good to terrible. The food is fine, but the portions are ridiculously small. I went there for dinner with 7 others and we all left hungry. We paid $45/person, which means each entre was about $40! The servings were so small, we basically just got a taste of each entre. This place has to be living on new and unsuspecting customers because I can't imagine any repeat business. None of the 8 of us will ever go back.
HORRIBLE – I've been here in the past and it was good...then. Now, the price has gone up, the serving size has shrunk, and the food is sub-par. You won't see too many asians coming here anymore. You WILL leave dissatisfied and very unhappy you spent the money.
Overpriced/Overrated – The two of us chose the $45 per head meal, which turned out to be just a proportionate share of the same dishes the $35 per head party of eight next to us were served (they actually had 2 dishes more). We got about 12 less-than-Dim Sum-sized dishes (most were pre-prepared cold dishes and salads) for our $120 including tax and tip. Several of these were very good. But,$10 for a few bites of cucumber salad (and for each and every of the other portions received) was unwaranted. There was very little in the way of cooking involved. Service was by a solo family member,and although she did announce each dish and advise us when the meal was over, that was about it. The food was spa-like, and the rest of the experience decidedly drab.
User review by fairweatherkids – I think that the chef at Jai Yun is as talented as any in the city. The meal I had last night was one of the best I have ever had. Everything was exciting, flavorful and balanced. The best thing about the restaurant is that it is so unassuming. The dining room is very simple, the service is very casual... it's all about the food. I thought it was worth every penny of the 80 dollar price. When you go bring alot of wine and remember to bring cash... they don't take credit cards.
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