Yo, Nomsters! Now, the name may sound familiar if you’ve ever been to Z & Y Restaurant – a famous and super bomb Chinese restaurant in SF that’s served the likes of President Obama among others – but now the owners have opened a new spot right across the street that’s more Asian Fusion and izakaya style. Both locations can be great for groups, but given the tapas-style small plates combined with the family style dishes at Z & Y Bistro, I think it’s more of a fun experience for a younger crowd. There’s also a lot more natural light compared to the sister restaurant across the street, which brings out the beauty in the food a lot more. The decor is also trendier and much more hip, and it feels, overall, like a more modern and open space.
One of the major differences between the two spots is Z & Y Bistro’s extensive yakitori menu, which was straight up awesome! Everything was super flavorful, and if you’re a fan of yakitori you won’t be disappointed. If you’re less familiar with this cuisine, it’s on the saltier side and is pretty often complimented by beer in Japan. My faves from the selections I tried were definitely the Asparagus Beef, Chicken Thighs with Leek, and the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. I mean, bacon makes everything better, right?!
Next up from Z & Y Bistro, I had their mapo tofu, which was another solid plate. I love spicy food, so I actually wish this one packed a bit more of a kick, but aside from the spiciness level, the flavor was great. The peppercorns weren’t overpowering, which I was happy about. I know some people love the numbing sensation, but I’m not a big fan of it if it’s too over the top, but if it’s subtle like this one, it adds to the experience of the dish.
Seafood Hot Pot
If you want to be incredibly full and have an amazing food coma, this one from Z & Y Bistro for you. The Seafood Hot Pot is stuffed to the gills (pun intended) with so much deliciousness it’s kind of insane. It’s got shrimp, clams, crab, and nice mix of veggies including bok choy and enoki mushrooms. If you’re a fan of enoki mushrooms, I’m a fan of you!
One thing I loved about Z & Y Bistro was how much flavor was packed into each bite, and the Spicy Dumplings were no exception. The pork on the inside was perfectly cooked and the dough comprising the outside of the dumplings was a really satisfying thickness. This is actually a really important aspect of making an amazing dumpling that many casual eaters might not think about. But pay attention the next few times you eat dumplings and you’ll probably notice that if the doughy exterior is too thick, the whole experience is less enjoyable. Z & Y Bistro gets a thumbs up in that department, though!
This dish was actually a really cool experience for me because I’m totally not used to Chinese style ramen. Japanese ramen is probably one of my favorite foods in the world, and having spent several years in Japan, I like to think I’ve developed a sense for quality vs. meh ramen. But the Lanzhou Ramen had a completely different flavor profile even though you might think their house made beef bone broth sounds like it might be similar to tonkotsu broth. I thoroughly enjoyed it and totally recommend it to anyone who likes soupy noodles!
Are you a fan of Asian Fusion or are you more of a traditionalist? Let us know in the comments below! Till next time, Nomsters!