Friday, July 11, 2008

An Adventurous Dinner at Cafe Yulong 玉龙小馆

You know one of those days when you're hungry, but can't quite pick out what you want to eat, and you keep switching between wanting one thing and another? Well today was one of those days for me. jayc and I were trying to decide what to eat for dinner. It was getting kind of late, approaching 9pm, so I suggested Buca di Beppo, since I kind of felt like Italian. But earlier in the week I'd been having a craving for fried chicken, which was never fulfilled, so we then tried to think where we could get fried chicken, and only abandoned that thought when the closest place with decent fried chicken was 10mi away. jayc said he wasn't that hungry. Well maybe we could get sushi? So we went on yelp to get some ideas for sushi places that were still open at 9pm. Kappo Nami Nami in Mountain View was a place that a labmate had mentioned was good, and it was still open. So with that in mind, we headed out to Mountain View.

But as we turned onto Castro, I don't know what kind of a secret spasm I experienced in my brain, I suddenly said "Turn left!!! Let's eat at Cafe Yulong (玉龙小馆) !!!" Somewhere in the depth of my mind I probably saw a review somewhere on yelp about it and somehow I had the impression it was a small-ish cafe for eating Asian snack type foods, dumplings, and noodles... How wrong I was...

The first thing I noticed after walking through the door was that this Cafe was not small at all. Impression #1 killed. It was actually rather large and spacious inside, at least compared to my impression. Then, to my dismay as we were led to our table I noticed that 90% of the clientele were non-Asian. Specifically, they were white... hmm. Not a good sign for a Chinese girl looking for authentic Chinese eats... After looking at the menu, Impression #2, that this was a snack shop, was killed. All the menu items were pretty normal Chinese take-out type items, complete with Walnut Prawns and even General Tsao Chicken.

Just as I was saying to jayc that we should just leave and go to another place, the waitress brought out our tea, water and a dish of kimchee... I guess it's too late to back out. Me and my big mouth were going to pay the price for my brain spasm. And what kind of Chinese restaurant serves kimchee instead of 榨菜 anyways?!

We ended up ordering Thousand Year Egg with Tofu 皮蛋豆腐 (cold dish), Mandarin Style Garlic Eggplant 鱼香茄子, Mongolian Beef 蒙古牛肉,and Szechuan Sauce Noodles 四川炸酱面 (whatever that means...). The funny thing is when we were ordered, we asked the waitress for a suggestion, and seeing that we spoke Chinese, she actually said "Well... this is food for Americans you know..." =D

I had never really eaten at a fully Americanized Chinese restaurant before... *nervous*, and thus began our adventurous dinner.

The first dish was actually not too bad at all. The cold dish, Tofu with black egg, was actually quite tasty, even though it was not authentic. The traditional Chinese way to eat this dish is to serve very tender tofu with the egg, topped with regular soysauce, dark vinegar and some sesame oil. Our dish today used Japanese Tofu, which was soft but slightly more dense and grainy, and was topped with sweetened dark soysauce and... Bonito Flakes (yah, like the kind you cook miso soup with). The bonito flakes were good, but the boyfriend and I had to add so much soysauce for flavour that we were almost embarrassed, and when we asked for vinegar, there was only white. =( But despite the deviations, the dish in itself was very palatable, with the taste of the tofu complemented by the bonito and the slightly sweet soysauce.

The noodle came next. This was my least favourite dish. It looked pretty good at first (before I mixed it all up =P), with red sauce, lots of onions and shrimp and squid (although no Szechuan person would ever really make noodles like that, they're not big on the shrimp... and no Mandarin person would ever call that 炸酱). But the taste was just... so plain. It was spicy, but not in the numbing hot 麻辣 way that is known in Szechuan - it was just chili. And other than that it was devoid of any other flavours. Bland doesn't begin to describe it. The shrimp were fresh and crisp, but the squid tasted kind of proteiny, like raw egg white, and it was rubbery. Yuck.

The eggplant and the mongolian beef came last, and they were both also average, and predictably Americanized - the eggplant not very garlicky, but very sweet; and the beef not very spicy, also on the sweet side. *Yawn* The conclusion was to go get boba afterwards to compensate our taste buds.


Tofu with Thousand Year Egg - 3.8/5 (subtract 2 points for being wayyyy not authentic, but add 0.8 for it being actually tasty)
Noodles of some kind - 1/5 (I was going to give it a ZERO, but then again, at least it wasn't nasty - just bland)
Eggplant with Sugar Sauce - 2/5 (Mixed with the noodles, it made them palatable)
Mongolian Beef (made by some sissy Mongolian) - 2.2/5 (gets 0.2 more than the eggplant cuz it's got meat...)

So I guess the conclusion is, don't eat here unless you feel like lemon chicken or something. =P

for when you actually want lemon chicken:

743 W Dana St
Mountain View
, CA 94041
(650) 960-1677
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1 comment:

ExpandForFree said...

Looks delicious!

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