#85 Yank Sing: Sesame Balls

The Place:

Dim Sum is a great type of meal for lunch during the work week.  Food is always present, easily accessible and the service is quick. For this reason and its downtown location, Yank Sing hustles and bustles for lunch.  They have two locations as well as a banquet and catering location, so one knows that they have their fans and have had some success.  Though the location we went to is hidden down a small side street in SOMA, the restaurant has a nice large dining room with a covered and heated patio.  Servers are constantly pushing around carts filled with steamed dumplings, sauteed vegetables and plethora of other dim sum staples.

We were seated quickly and had bbq pork buns in front of us within 30 seconds of our butts hitting the chair.  One minor quarrel we did have was having servers constantly interrupt us to describe the dish they were carrying and asking us if we wanted any.  We do understand that such is the nature of dim sum, however we felt they could have dialed it back a little bit.  Having said that, the place was great for the most part.

The Dish:

We came in flying blind, having no idea what a sesame ball was or consists of.  We both kind of assumed it would be some savory treat with sesame being the prime flavor, but as we glanced at the menu we found it was a dessert.  We saved a little room and as the dessert cart wheeled around we spotted only one plate left of the sesame balls and quickly scooped it up, score!  However, our enthusiasm for our good luck was short lived when we actually tasted the dish.  The plate consists of four rice flour balls stuffed with a sweet bean puree, covered in sesame seeds and then lightly fried.  Chewy would be an understatement for these little things and the bean puree didn’t quite click for us, as we felt it lacked enough sweetness make it a true dessert and had a slight nutty and cloying flavor.  We both like sesame as a flavor (sesame chicken, sesame candies, we even have sesame oil at home), but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the discomfort of chewing for an hour.  We did talk to a few friends after who love the balls, so we may be alone in our dislike.  Also we realize that those flavors are not something that we normally come across and could be an acquired taste.

The Verdict:

To be honest, the meal was a bit underwhelming.  We weren’t too hungry, so our meal consisted of pork and shrimp dumplings, honey glazed pork buns, sauteed and chilled broccoli with oyster sauce and sesame balls.  The dumplings were good,  nothing amazing, but very solid.  The pork buns stuck to your teeth like glue and took a few minutes of diligent scraping to get them off.  The broccoli was chilled, something we didn’t know to expect when we snagged them, and though we found later they were labeled as such, it was a little off-putting and bland.  You know our thoughts on the sesame balls, so all and all, we would say that Yank Sing is definitely not a “must” from the list.  We felt that Ton Kiang was better, cheaper and more authentic (though farther away) and are sure there are other dim sum places that are better.

Dig In,

A & K

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