Thursday, August 15, 2013

Off the Map: Please Stop Force-Feeding Us Dumplings

Baked BBQ Pork Buns -- Yank Sing, San Francisco, CA
Yank Sing

Well, it's finally happened: we have walked out of a Best Thing I Ever Ate location without ingesting a single bite of food.  This is a first (at least, we think it is a first.  All of this eating is making us fat and senile).  But does this development mean that we skipped over a potential dish, thus saving ourselves some calories and even more sanity?  Of course not.
A Calorie Saved Is Merely a Calorie to Eat Later
We are at Yank Sing to attempt to consume Chris Cosentino's chosen Best Thing I Ever Ate BAR-B-QUE dish, the baked BBQ pork buns.  Now, the last time Vodka was in San Francisco, before this blog was in existence, she came to Yank Sing for this very thing, so she warns Ginger on the way in, "They are going to try to throw food on our table the minute we sit down.  Say 'no' to EVERYTHING."
Well, Except Maybe the Soy Sauce. We'll Keep the Soy Sauce
It is in this mindset that we enter Yank Sing and are led to a table.  Before we have so much as had a chance to place both cheeks on the chair, a waitress comes along brandishing dumplings and attempting to place them in the middle of our table.

"No!" we call out simultaneously.

"No dumpling?"

"No, just BBQ pork buns please," we answer.

"Not ready til later," the woman tells us, so we collapse in our chairs, lift the teapot, and wait.
Pouring of the Tea Will Commence in 3... 2... Arghh!
"DUMPLINGS?" another waitress appears out of nowhere, with yet another wooden basket that is dangerously close to hitting the surface of our table.

"No!  Baked BBQ pork buns.  Nothing else," we say.

"We sold out," the woman tells us.  "Dumplings?"

"You're sold out?" we clarify.  "We were just told they were cooking."

"Sold out," the woman says again.  "Dump -- ?"
Does This Look Like a Dumpling to You, Yank Sing? THIS Is What We Want
"Come on," Vodka shoos Ginger out of her chair, and we just about sprint toward the front door, away from the giant piles of dumpling containers.  "There's another location."
Apparently, San Francisco Residents Like to Jam Dumplings Down Their Throats Twice in a Five-Block Radius
Don't Make Eye Contact at Location #2 Until They Hand Over the Pork Buns
In Yank Sing's defense, we are not exactly going about this "dim sum" thing correctly, being that most people do not venture to an Asian food smorgasbord merely to consume one dish, but no matter -- there is no excuse for their pushiness concerning their dumplings.  Nobody wants your dumplings, Yank Sing!
Okay, MOST People Probably Do. But We Don't!
In order to save ourselves from yet another onslaught of women clutching dumpling baskets, when we see that the second Yank Sing location has a to-go place right next door, we place our order for two baked BBQ pork buns, and we take them into the outer lobby of what appears to be an office building to eat in peace.
You Have Forced Us to Eat Like Hobos. Are You Happy Now, Yank Sing?
When Vodka was last at Yank Sing, she did indeed have the pork buns, but the steamed version -- not baked (clearly, this is when she was less OCD about the exactness of Best Thing I Ever Ate dishes).  Those pork buns had featured warm shredded meat tucked within a doughy but almost tasteless outer coating, and while they had not been anything to write home about, they were pleasing enough.  
At Last, Our Love Has Come Along ("Love," In This Particular Case, Is Relative)
This baked variety, in contrast, is browned on the outside and topped by a sticky honey substance which makes the whole thing sweet.
Mrs. Lovett's Sticky Meat Pies
And in sum, they are about one-thousand times worse than the steamed buns, which weren't even that great to begin with.
If You're Going to Hand Us a Doughnut-Like Creation, At Least Fill It With Vanilla Cream
While Ginger is slightly less put off by these concoctions than Vodka, being that a) she likes sweet foods, and b) she's more well-versed in the art of typical dim sum dishes, and thus finds these buns to be an acquired taste, neither of us are even remotely won over by them. 
Because, Well, They're Gross
The main issue with these buns is the meat-to-dough ratio -- there is about three times as much breading as there is meat inside, which makes the whole thing like a under-filled jelly doughnut.  
How Many Bites Does It Take to Get to the Meat in a BBQ Pork Bun?
The meat itself, due to whatever barbeque sauce is smothered on top of it, is overly sweet and unnaturally sticky, which is only compounded by the sweet glaze on the bun.  The whole thing seems like a mismatch of flavors, not to mention the fact that it is messy and sticky, and if there is one thing we hate more than mediocre food, it is getting dirty while trying to eat it.  
Yank Sing Needs to Start Distributing Plastic Gloves with Their Dumplings
Overall, anytime we have had any such "bun" in the past, we find them more enjoyable when the dough component is shaped like a taco rather than this savory Boston Cream shenanigan.  But we're not sure there is much that could save this version from the full extent of our displeasure.
Of Note: the Container WON'T EVEN FIT Through the Trash Can. Kudos, San Francisco Garbage Gods
So maybe, just maybe, when it comes to Yank Sing, the dumplings really are the best choice after all.

Yank Sing's Baked BBQ Pork Buns: 2 stars

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