Extraordinary food, beautifully presented, in a somewhat spartan setting. Jai Yun is a restaurant within a restaurant, located in the lower level of a nondescript eatery on the edge of Chinatown. But the unlikelihood of the locale is part of the adventure. An English-speaking host is on hand to put non-Mandarin speakers at ease. The experience is not inexpensive, but we thought it was worth every penny. Food is served banquet style so best to go with another couple or in a group. Jai Yun is not a conventional restaurant -- in many ways, it's really more like eating in the private home.
Our second time here and we had a blast. We brought our parents this time so we could share this amazing experience. Amazing food by a very talented chef. Both the chef and Eugene were super friendly, communicative and wonderful to interact with. Check out the reviews online and try this place for yourself. I cannot more strongly recommend this dining 'experience'!
Deliciously traditional Chinese food thoughtfully concocted by a chef who is a lover of poetry. And the poetry is evident in every dish.
Just sit back and let the exquisite dishes come. You don't order; it's up to the chef what he will offer. All dishes are delicate and delicious. Come hungry!
Had party of 9 business associates. Chef was great and came to speak to us frequently...explained dishes...made us feel welcome. I will go back again!
This was our fourth experience with this chef over the past decade or so, our third in this location. The chef's experience comes from cooking for large banquets in China for wealthy businessmen and politicians. This is not Chinese food you are likely to experience anywhere else unless you travel to China and know people. It's certainly more interesting than anything I've been able to find in Hong Kong over a few visits. There is no menu and often the server speaks very little English. You point to one of 3 prices on the card placed in front of you. We have always been satisfied with the middle price ($128 per person for couples, it goes down for larger groups). Pricey and in a very ordinary room with plastic flowers. So clean it feels a bit sterile but this is a vast improvement over his original location. The meal begins with 16 appetizers on small dishes - various pickled vegetables and thinly sliced meats, some intensely spicy. There is terrific variety in the flavors. His signature dish is bland but delicious: "velvet abalone" which consists of very thin ribbons of abalone mixed with cooked egg. Small plates of perfectly cooked shrimp and beef will also appear in course after course. The past few visits we've had him stop after about 2 hours of continuous nibbling when we couldn't eat any more.
It's really a place for foodies who are relatively insensitive to price and setting.
Not worth the money! Would never recommend.
Jai Nun offers a price fix menu of many, many courses of delicious Chinese food. But having encouraged guests to be on time (because the Chef is preparing the fresh food), it was 45 minutes before we were served. There were few wine choices and I wonder if beer might have been a less expensive choice. The waitress was very attentive, but had little English. All in all, I think this restaurant is worth visiting once, but is overpriced.
You're at the mercy of this fine chef, since there is no menu. One of the most interesting meals I have ever had. It starts with ten little bites and then there are at least 10 more courses to go, but you don't feel stuffed when you leave. They demand a reservation.
Making a reservation for Jai Yun was easy on OpenTable, but if you need to contact the restaurant with question and make changes was a bit hard if you don't speak Mandarin Chinese. The chef speaks very little english, but tries very hard to communicate and accommendate. We had a group of 11 people and everyone had a great time. I loved the 8 - 10 small cold dishes as starters. It is fresh, unique and delicious. I lost count on how many hot items we received, but I like the concept that it started small and get larger as the dishes progresses. IMHO, everything was expertly prepared and flavor was well balanced. A good advice someone gave me is to let the chef know what price you are paying when making a reservation(if it is not just the minimum), it will help him plan your meal better.
Very over-priced, zero ambience. Food is eccentric. Some of it was very good but overall not at all worth the price tag. Service was limited.
Really, the food was quite good, but the concept needs some fine tuning... mane more than fine tuning. The chef is good - everything else was out of control.
We had Christmas dinner here and the restaurant was very busy. We arrived at 6:30 and ordered the $80 meal for three people. In spite of explaining the prix fixe, lack of ambiance, and high rating on Open Table, my dining companions were pretty shocked by the looks of the place and the seemingly high cost of the meal. Be patient, I said...This is the TOP RATED RESTAURANT for OPEN TABLE IN ALL OF San Fran!! That has to mean something, right?
I'm not sure what it means. My husband said "it is a gimmick, it is rigged" and I wonder. I've never traveled in China, so I have no way to compare the food we were served with fine Chinese cuisine. I do, however, live in Portland, OR...home to some of the best restaurants in the USA, and by my standards of frequent fine dining Jai Yun was just ok. The first round of appetizers (all cold chopped vegetables, as I recall) were very good. The rest of the meal came out one dish at a time. Two or three were fantastic. The other 5 or 6 were good. For $240 dollars (plus drinks, plus tip) for a mostly vegetarian meal, we felt dramatically underfed.
Tomorrow I dine at Beast in Portland and will pay $275 pp. for a truffle dinner. I'm curious to see how I feel about that experience as compared to this one. Let the consumer beware at Jai Yun.
This is an experience unlike any other I have had. With an open mind and a lot of hunger this is a worthwhile splurge.
The meal is made just for you. No reservation- no food. No walk-ins. Fresh, expertly prepared. Unique. Could be on a Seinfeld episode. No menu. No choices. Just a list of prices. No indication as to what you get differently at a given price. Difficult to communicate. You just pick a price and the food starts coming. I picked the mid level. Started with a dozen cold appetizers, followed by a dozen hot courses. No rice. Excellent food. Unique, almost absurd. Evidently little known place that has had devotees for years. Please go so it stays open till I can come back.
I heard about this restaurant from a knowledgeable friend, and I was not disappointed. We had six discerning diners and the presentation of small plates of interesting and unique dishes had everyone complimenting the chef. The menu is selected by the chef and there are a range of fixed prices - we opted for a mid-range price and had plenty of food and all of it interesting and some dishes were simply spectacular.
We had dinner here for 2 hours and were literally the only knew in the restaurant. Food was ok but very expensive at $90/person. Cannot recommend.
It's a one-man-show at Jai Yun. The chef is also the front of the house person. There are 4 tiers of prix fixe you can order ... for groups of 5 or more, it's 65, 80 98 and 168 I think... we got the $80 range. The food is AMAZING. We probably got 25-30 dishes, starting with a round of cold salad-type small plates, moving on to heavier, hot items including fish and meat. One mushroom dish really stood out, unlike any mushrooms I have ever eaten.
Note: I read a review somewhere that they don't charge for corkage but they charged us $15 a bottle.
Ambiance has nothing going for it and the chef doesn't speak any English but none of it matters. It's an amazing experience and great for a special occasion.
San Francisco has many good restaurants but none compare to the personalized service and attention given at Jai Yun. This evening became a special occasion because of the great food and ambiance created by the chef.
I've read a lot of varied reviews of Jai Yun and believe that those with an open mind will benefit most from this unique dining experience. Leave at the door all expectations of what you think dining out "should" be and be prepared to welcome dish after dish of authentic, carefully prepared, fresh Chinese cuisine. My husband and I have dined here a few times and have been truly delighted and amazed with each experience.
If you're looking for an amazing Chinese meal, this is your place. An endless stream of small plates flows out of the kitchen until you feel that you can't eat even one more bite. A fantastic Chinese banquet, similar in style to Japanese kaiseki. The downside is the decor, which doesn't come close to matching the quality of the food. You must reserve ahead of time so that the chef can buy enough fresh ingredients for your meal.
Waiter speaks almost no English, and the food needed explanation. Lots of dishes; pricing was indecipherable. Ambiance was early Chinese diner (2-story venue, we were the only patrons and the upstairs was being used for storage). A lot of money for a lot of very similar, but tasty, dishes (25 separate plates @ our price level).
This is my 3rd trip to Jai Yun, each time with guests. Each time the meal has been extraordinary - truly a revelation as to what Chinese food is and can be. More surprisingly, Jai Yun has astonished and impressed me each time - nearly as much as my newbie guests.
The place looks so unassuming, both inside and out. I'm sure most people walk past it year after year without giving it a glance. But the food... there are no words. Dozens of courses, some courses consist of dozens of dishes. The meal takes hours. Yet the last dish is as impressive as the first.
On a Monday night we were the ONLY table. The place was completely silent.
Only negative: our waiter spoke almost no English, so we had to guess at what we were eating.
This was our third visit to this restaurant with no menu with the servings left to the whim of the chef. The food is excellent, and though each portion is small, the total adds up to a lot of food. We ordered the $128 per person order. In addition to the appetizers, there were 15 other dishes. The crispy beef is one of our favorites. But the abalone, fish and other dishes are just as good. I would not recommend it to children as some of the dishes can be a bit spicy, and the kids would probably prefer won ton and fried rice which you will not get here. You won't get to dip things in soy sauce and hot sauce as they don't have them on the table. You eat what the chef presents - which is perfectly fine with us.
No walk in, reservation only, no menu, prix fix only, dishes do not rotate (ie menu choices 365 days a year)
Moderately good 10 course meal of small plate Chinese food from varying regions. Some dishes had a bit too much corn starch giving the food that cheap Chinese American food taste. Other dishes were quite good. Unfortunately nothing outstanding to justify the price. Service was excellent.
We went as a group of 6 people, three of whom had lived in Asia for many years so we had an idea what to expect in a Chinese banquet. We were there on a Monday night and the only table i The food was excellent and nicely presented. There was no soup course nor a rice or noodle dish - this seemed strange for a Chinese "banquet". We didn't need more food, but as this place is supposed to follow traditional Chinese "rules" it was surprising. What was most surprising and also perhaps insulting was that the "dessert" for our $80 per person dinner was a plastic tray with one Halloween candy for each of us. Three Musketeers, Kit Kat, etc. After over 20+ courses of carefully prepared food carefully?
Other than that the food was excellent.
My wife and I were visiting Wine Country and our son while his new bride were in the city. We wanted to take them to dinner and he requested Chinese. We've enjoyed some VERY nice Chinese restaurants over the years, so the $$ didn't worry me. But the details of Jai Yun's 'authentic Chinese' was a bit subtle. The food was fresh & authentic, but the quantity was meager for four and the fix prixe was high. None of the reviews mentioned that the minimum was $80. Not know what exactly was entailed (the young server could not adequately explain the process) we selected the $98 per person level (2 of 4 levels). Perhaps all the 'cool' people in the Bay area understood this dining experience, but it damaged my confidence in Open Table.
As New York City food tourists, we knew what we were coming for and we were not disappointed. This is NOT your typical Chinese restaurant. The meal is a 15+ course prix fixe feast, with a choice of three different price points. The dishes are both inventive and authentic, and are inspired by a range a regional asian cuisines. Everything was impeccably prepared and wowed us in one way or another. If you like to experience new foods, you will love dining here. And the focus is certainly on the food - the decor is extremely unassuming, yet the price is considerable. Still, it highly recommended, and when we're back in the Bay Area, we will return.
I lived in China for three years and this was as close as I have come in the U.S. to high quality Chinese food the way it would be presented in central or east central China. The ingredients are fresh. No piles of rice or other fillers. It is not for the faint of pocketbook, however.
he food was beautifully prepared and presented and the ingredients were very fresh and delicious. I think my only complaint is a matter of personal taste. There is a style of Chinese cuisine that is very simple and plain without a lot of seasoning and although it was done perfectly it is not a style that I prefer, maybe a little too delicate and refined for my appreciation. Many of the dishes were in this style, but I preferred those that were more seasoned and spicier. I also felt that the price was a little prohibitive for a couple...it was more reasonable for a large party.
My husband and I love Jai Yun. The food is healthy, fresh, and exceedingly well prepared. If the lighting weren't so bright, this would be the perfect romantic meal.
Fabulous food experience but extremely expensive, pricing not explained well and wine by the glass was outrageous, priced as a 5 star restaurant but no ambiance. That said, the food was an incredible experience but a little atmosphere would go a long way to match.
Walking in you would never expect the meal/experience you are about to have! The food is incredible. My mouth was in utter awe at all the new favors it tried. Be prepared to eat a lot as it is about a 20 course tasting, and you will want to savor every last bite! The staff is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Can't wait to go back and try what's in store during another season, as the menu changes regularly.
A remarkable experience! Artisan-created food you will find nowhere else. This is for folks who love food, including Chinese food, developed with respect for and understanding of the ingredients, food that is both beautiful to behold and delicious to eat. It is NOT for someone who simply wants to fill his or her belly as cheaply as possible. The chef has no employees (the server is a friend and volunteer). Chef Nei plans the meal, invents the dishes, shops for ingredients, does the prep work, cooks the meal, and then washes the dishes and pots and pans afterward. This is a labor of love and commitment, yet the restaurant is simply hanging on, paying its bills, but with no net profit. OUr meal took several hours and was composed of 26
Not a good location. Decor supports a $5.00/plate cafe...not a $98 to $168 per person premium restaurant. No menu! Chefs choice of dinner plan. Tricks you into ordering higher priced per person plan by offsetting other diners' possible orders. In reality everyone gets exactly tbe same meal. Starts with 12 very small appetizers. You think it's fine....however, everything thereafter is an appetizer size as well. Most plates presented are vegetables. The taste is good....but nothing to rave about. Don't buy in to those other reviews! This place has no customers....and they charge suckers like me 12 times what it is really worth. It is a con like no other I've seen. They are nice folks but the food, decor, service etc...is simply overall poor.
This chef raises Chinese cuisine to a high art form. I have never tasted better, more innovative Chinese food. Two mistakes that I made: I didn't realize that this is only a Prix fix menu and the smallest amount is for 2 people. My companion had to cancel. So I went by myself. Wow, so much food, 20 little plates! I made it through 12. For one person, the price is very steep, $135, (including 2 glasses of wine.) You have to really be a "foodie" to think that is ok. Fortunately, I am. Service was very good. My only problem with my waitress was that she didn't speak much English and it was hard to communicate with her. The dinner was still worth it. Go "Foodies."
It was a thoroughly delicious meal. So much work in the preparations and the sauces complimented each and every dish served. All my guests enjoyed the dining experience.
Best Chinese restaurant I have ever been in, in the USA. A gem. Divine food.
When we dined there, there were only 3 tables set with customers, including ours!!! It is quite a shame, since chef Jai Yun's cuisine has brought Chinese cuisine to another level. Haute Chinese cuisine is rare to find and Chef Jai Yun masters every technique. This restaurant needs to update its decor, revamp the whole place in order to attract more customers.
Remarkable food, a must visit when in San Francisco. Reserve in advance, sit back, and enjoy.