Recent Z&Y experiences?

I’m heading to Z&Y with a group this weekend, and would love to hear about any recent meals there. I’m nervous that the cooking has gotten toned down since M. Bauer gave them a positive review, or that they are paying more attention to their sister restaurant, Chili House in the Inner Richmond, which unveiled a Beijing banquet that people reported about a few months ago.

For spicy dishes, I’m planning to order Couple’s delight, whole fish with bean chili and hand-pulled noodles, Yunnan-style rice cake, and maybe dan dan noodles (they have a meatless toned down version, so I’ll specify that it should have meat and lots of Sichuan peppercorns).

Not everyone at the table likes spicy food, so please let me know if you have any non-spicy dish recommendations (Bund Shanghai would be a better place, but it’s closed until mid-November). Z&Y makes a good pancake with beef. Standard soups seem like a safe bet. Is their fish soup with pickle any good? Bitter melon with honey could be good (is that in season?). Their house special chicken soup uses a lot of medicinal items that I’m not sure the group would like.

How is their Peking Duck? Is their Shanghai Style Wine Chicken any good? Their Dongpo pork didn’t get good mentions on the Chili House thread.

It has been a few years but from what I can remember their tea smoked duck was better then the Peking Duck. But that is my opinion. Herbal soup is a matter of taste I am not a fan of it,

Dinner for the six of us was a success. Very friendly service, and the ordering and pacing of the dishes was spot on. We had our plates changed twice.

I had my eye on ice cream afterwards, but would otherwise have ordered some more dishes. In randomish order, we got:

  • Couple’s delight : pieces of tendon and shin(?) meat were the right thickness, but cut too big to allow you to appreciate their textural contrast. On the upside, the center of a few meat slices remained undressed with the chili oil sauce, so the guest who can’t eat spice was able to try some. I’d prefer some more Sichuan peppercorns, but everyone else at the table thought there was more than enough so YMMV.

  • Bitter melon with honey : very cooling, a good compliment to the couple’s delight and even appreciated by people who dislike bitter melon in general.

  • Beef roll: a crowd pleaser. It seemed smaller than I remembered, but my memory may be wrong.

  • Smoked duck: I pre-ordered the Peking duck, but there was some kind of mixup, so no go. They offered us a tea smoked duck in its place, and it was quite good. Pancakes were industrial ones, not as thick as tortillas, but thick and the edges dried out quickly.

  • Fish soup with pickle: pickled vegetables with a pickled chili and tender fish. Very nice, and helped balance the fattier dishes. The assertiveness was more from fermentation and white pepper than from chili heat.

  • Tea tree mushroom in mini-flaming pot : the dry salty heat and umami of doubanjiang (fermented fava bean and chili paste) worked great with the jerky-like consistency of the mushrooms. For some reason this was served in a mini-wok, but wasn’t placed over a flame— it’s nice to not have to deal with sterno smell, but I could see how continuous heat would keep this more aromatic and less oily feeling after a few minutes.

  • Yunnan-style rice cake: as good as the first time I had this. Twist on twice cooked pork (Chinese bacon, leeks), but with the addition of chewy rice cakes to the salty/smokey flavors.

  • Combo chow mein: yeah… I should have gotten fried rice instead, like the one with sour beans.

  • Pea sprouts with garlic : a basic dish done well.

  • Sichuan string beans: I requested that this be made without chili peppers. Garlic and fermented black beans still held this dish up nicely— I think the green beans were deep fried to get a wrinkly surface and crunch.

  • Dessert: complimentary black sesame mochi balls in wine lees, a nice way to end the meal.

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