All in the family

I’ll admit it…Chinese food in San Francisco rarely blows me away. One exception is Yank Sing where they use the freshest ingredients, aren’t afraid of taking culinary risks on the normally ordinary dim sum dishes, and they always have friendly service. This all doesn’t come cheaply – you can easily spend $50 a person if you’re not careful. Another exception is Koi Palace in Daly City. If you have the patience of a saint and don’t mind the long, inevitable wait to get seated, you will be in for some of the best dim sum at the best prices in the bay area.

Other than these, I’ve found most Chinese restaurants to be very average – neither good or bad. This weekend, a friend set out to prove me wrong – in San Ramon, of all places by taking me to his favorite Chinese eatery – Uncle Yu’s. This East Bay mini chain, with locations in San Ramon, Lafayette and Livermore (three towns I don’t normally associate food with, let alone Chinese food), did prove to surprise me.

The potsticker skins had just the right “doughiness” to them – not too thick (I hate chewy potstickers). The mu shu duck was thinly disguised as their tea smoked duck but quite tasty, albeit a bit pricey ($4 more than the mu shu pork, which I might have been happier with). The Mongolian beef sauce wasn’t unusual but the cut of filet was what made this dish worth ordering. And while I prefer my prawns served with pecans, the honey walnut prawns were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside so I didn’t mind the sacrifice. The wine list was surprisingly extensive – a hefty bible to choose from, when I’m used to a wine selection of about five, maybe six varietals. The manager also brought out one of his “special” wines – an Oakville Cabernet he’s marketing to California wine-hungry China.

The next time I’m in the way out East Bay, I’d like to pay another visit to Uncle Yu’s. Although they didn’t offer me a pair of chopsticks upon eating (which surprised me, with me being Asian and all), they did make me feel welcome and part of the Uncle Yu’s family of regular patrons.

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