It’s been a while since we went back to Yum Cha for their cheap dim sum. (I believe the current prices are $1.39 for “A” dishes and $1.79 for “B” dishes.) Recently, mmm-yoso did a post about their 3 item bbq combo which made me want to go back.

As I recall, previously the bbq meats at Yum Cha were on the expensive side, which I thought was odd given how cheap the rest of the items are in the cafe.

Right now they have a special for $4.39 for bbq pork, chicken and roasted duck and rice. The portions are quite generous and enough for a few meals. Since we had so many people we got two orders. Interestingly, one order was a lot bigger than the other one. I thought the duck was really bland. The bbq pork was surprisingly not too salty. The best item was the bbq chicken.

We also picked up some dim sum items as well. I love that they serve dim sum all day long.

Steamed lucky cake.  I didn’t see this on my previous visits. It’s eaten during Chinese New Year so I’m not sure if it may be a seasonal item only. It was slightly on the dry side but still pretty good.

Fried chicken wings are also a new item. An order gives you 6 wings. The wings were just okay, nothing special.

Shrimp dumplings (this is two orders worth)

Egg tarts


Radish cakes

Fried shrimp balls. These used to be filled with only shrimp. Now they have added corn kernels to the batter.

Steamed tripe

Honeycomb tripe

You can read my previous posts on Yum Cha here and here and here

Yum Cha Cafe
6933 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92111

Steamed buns are a pretty big staple of a chinese diet, kind of like the equivalent of eating toast in the US. Plain steamed buns are called mantou. There are many variations of these steamed buns, such as sweet ones filled with red bean paste, savory ones filled with bbq pork (cha siu), or ground pork and vegetables. There are also ones shaped like flowers and topped with scallions, swirled ones, fried ones.

The plain ones are often eaten as breakfast, either by itself, or accompanied with some dried pork. They are also eaten with porridge. I grew up eating these buns but I never tried making my own. They are readily available both fresh and frozen at chinese supermarkets and some american ones like Trader Joe’s and Costco, so I’ve never had much of a desire to make my own .

While browsing some other food blogs, I realized that these aren’t very hard to make at all, especially if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you. So for our little Chinese New Year celebration this weekend, I tried making my own. I looked at several recipe before trying one I found on Almost Bourdain.

My dough ended up being a bit too dry. I probably should have added more water, but since this was my first time, I didn’t want to play around with the recipe. Next time I’ll add more water. My dough had a hard time coming together because it was so dry and it was also hard to roll out. Luckily, it still tasted really good.

I am really proud of these. Once steamed, they were just like the ones I grew up eating. And they came out quite pretty too. While I know I can easily just buy these, they taste so much sweeter when you put in your own labor.

Steamed Buns (Mantou) (recipe found on Almost Bourdain with my notes and some changes in the directions)

Yields approx 8 steamed buns

5 g instant dried yeast
250 ml water (next time I will increase this because my dough was too dry)
500 g all purpose flour
25 g caster sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil

1. Dissolve dried yeast in water in a small bowl. (Since it is instant yeast, you don’t need to worry about the water being warm)
2. Mix all ingredients in the bowl of electric stand mixer. With the dough hook attached with low speed, knead the dough until it’s smooth, around 10 minutes. (If the dough does not come together, add more water.)
3. Gather dough up to ball and let the dough rest for 5 minutes and lay it on a slightly floured surface.
4. Roll out the dough to a 70 cm x 15 cm rectangle.
5. Take one of the long ends and fold up to meet the halfway point. Do the same with the other end. You should view Almost Bourdain‘s site for her good step by step photos.
6. Roll the dough out again to a 45 cm x 25 cm rectangle.
7. Brush the surface with water with a pastry brush.
8. Roll the dough tightly from the longer edge to form a log. Make sure it is very thin and tight so there are no spaces between the spirals.
9. Slice the dough into 8 pieces. My ends had some leftover dough which I cut off and didn’t use.
10. Cut small square slices of parchment paper to place dough on. Put dough on the paper.
11. Spread the buns on the steamer about 1 inch apart since the buns will spread and let them rise for about 20 minutes in a semi warm area. If your kitchen is too cold, you could try turning your steamer on warm to let them rise properly. Pour about 1 1/2 cups cold water in the bottom of the steamer. Cover the steamer, and let them cook for about 20 minutes. I steamed some in my rice cooker steamer and some in a bamboo steamer on the stove. I preferred the steamer on the stove only because my bamboo steamer had more room for the dough to rise and steam properly.

12. Serve while hot. You can reheat them later by sticking them in the steamer again.

A few weekends ago, we planned a dinner at Jasmine Seafood restaurant to check out their new reduced menu items priced at $7.99. However, when we arrived, the restaurant was booked for the night for a wedding reception.

So we headed over to Emerald. I visited Emerald about a month ago, which you can read about here, checking out their special menu dishes which are priced at 4 dishes for $24.99 or 7 dishes for $39.99.

On my first visit, I was a little blinded by the cheap prices. Now that I’ve visited twice, the excitement has worn off a bit. For the most part, you get what you pay for. The dishes served on the menu are not smaller portions of the higher quality of Emerald dishes I’m used to (though it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten there off their regular menu).  Also, while the menu seemed extensive, there are only a few dishes I liked off the menu and we had trouble finding enough dishes we wanted to try.

Overall, the dishes are cheap and I probably will visit again because it’s cheaper than cooking yourself, but I wouldn’t visit frequently as the quality is just so-so for the reduced special menu. Here is what we ordered:

Honey walnut shrimp.

Shanghai rice cakes. We ordered this last time as well and it’s something I’d order again.

Spicy boiled beef dish. This was definitely the worst dish of the night. It was nothing like the spicy boiled beef dishes served at Sichuan places like Spicy City or Ba Ren or Spicy House. The beef was tough, there were lots of vegetables, and the sauce was watery and a little sour and not very spicy. No one liked this dish and it remained untouched for most of the night.

Seafood tofu dish. The portions of this were pretty generous.

Shredded duck with vegetables

Mapo tofu with two kinds of tofu. The sauce for this was kind of sour. I was not a fan of this dish.

Stir fried intestines in black bean sauce. There weren’t many pieces of intestines in this dish but there was a lot of asparagus

Peppered Beef short ribs

Sweet and sour pork chops

Cod fish with garlic sauce. I thought the fish had too much batter and barely any fish.

Pan fried flounder. I like this dish and always order it when I see it on the menu. The version here is pretty good.

You can view the full menu on my previous post.

Emerald Chinese Seafood Restaurant
3709 Convoy St, Ste 101
San Diego, CA 92111