Martin Yan has toured far-flung corners of China so many times on television that we couldn't wait to see what regional specialties he would unearth for M.Y. China, his dramatically styled restaurant in the Westfield San Francisco Centre.
The expansive menu, however, embraces a familiar mishmash of Sichuan, Northern Chinese and Cantonese dishes chosen for their appeal to Western diners. One bright spot: the noodles.
Noodle pullers roam the room, stretching dough and answering diners' questions. The arm-span-long noodles they produce are good, but we're even more drawn to the rarer species the cooks craft in the open kitchen.
Squid-ink "snap noodles" ($18) are formed by snapping off coins of dough into boiling water, the chewy curls shaped much like orecchiette. The black, dimpled noodles are tossed with fat prawns and scallops in a Shaoxing-wine sauce.
For the scissor noodles ($14), the chefs slice three-inch, tapered lengths off a ball of dough with, yes, giant kitchen shears. Wriggly and smooth, imbued with the smokiness of a hot wok, the noodles are tossed with curls of wild boar meat, green onions and bean sprouts.
We've never seen their like before.
M.Y. China, 845 Market St. (at Fourth St.), Fourth Floor; 415-580-3001 or mychinasf.com