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Monday, July 25, 2011

Yet Wah: Dim Sum That's Close to Ton Kiang (Physically, Anyway)

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Pan-fried chive dumplings - PHOTOS BY W. BLAKE GRAY
  • Photos by W. Blake Gray
  • Pan-fried chive dumplings

Because it's only a couple blocks from Ton Kiang, which has some of the biggest crowds outside of any dim sum restaurant in town, Yet Wah gets occasional spillover business. But the main crowd is mostly locals, mostly speaking Chinese.

The room is large, with a small, sparsely populated fish tank at one end. Yet Wah is mostly a menu-order place, but servers stroll by with trays as well.

The 94 items on the dim-sum order menu are fairly cheap. There are 12 $2 dishes and a lot of common orders at $2.50 and $3.30. There are also a few items that could be light, very cheap lunches on their own, like the spareribs and sausage rice bowl ($3.60). A few common items are more expensive, like foil-wrapped chicken ($5.50).

Note the fine print publications available for free just outside Yet Wah.
  • Note the fine print publications available for free just outside Yet Wah.

For a place with a mostly Chinese-speaking clientele, the menu has surprisingly few exotic items. We didn't try clams and peanut congee ($6), and nothing else struck us as out of the ordinary.

The fairly small lotus leaf sticky rice wraps ($4) were the best thing we ordered; a lot of fresh mushrooms gave them an earthy, fresh flavor.

We were surprised by the look of the pan-fried chive dumplings ($3.30). They're not round as in many local places, but shaped like jiaozi. We liked the crisp outside and mass of chives inside, along with hunks of shrimp.

Bake bbq pork roll
  • Bake bbq pork roll

The shrimp dumplings ($3.30) are solid, fresh with chunks of small shrimp. There isn't much spice, and Yet Wah doesn't have chile sauce on the table, though staff brought it when we asked, along with hot mustard.

We went 0-for-2 on baked pork items. The bake bbq roll ($3.30) has a nice flaky pastry -- no fear of lard here -- but the filling is a sparse layer of pork that looks like canned tuna and imparts little flavor.

We couldn't resist when a tray of baked bbq pork buns walked by, but we should have: the filling was the same oddly canned tunalike mistake, and here there was more of it. The bun was uninteresting. This wasn't on the menu, so we don't know how much we paid.

Noodles in ham broth
  • Noodles in ham broth

We go to dim sum for variety, not a cheap filling lunch. But out of curiosity we tried noodles in ham broth ($2.50), which was a little small for lunch, but could be a light breakfast by itself. It's not that interesting -- the noodles are dull, there are a few slices of dry, flavorless ham and a few leaves of bok choy. But the ham broth, while simple, was tasty enough that we would drink it from a coffee cup.

Nobody around us had vegetables, and there are only two choices at the bottom of the menu: Chinese broccoli sautéed ($6) and pea leaves with ham broth ($6.50). When we return, we'll probably try the latter. Why do we confidently say, "When we return," when Yet Wah is fairly flavorless? We ended up here a couple Christmases ago when the line at Ton Kiang was unbearably long, and we can imagine that happening again. We'll just be sure to ask for the chile sauce and hot mustard right away.

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W. Blake Gray


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