Yuet Lee is a good place for locals who are for the charms of a Chinatown restaurant. It has a bright green exterior, a window-lined wall that looks out to the buzzy Broadway Street and live fish and crab tanks humming in the background.
Sam Yuen, the owner, told us about how his father spotted the corner location two years before Sam immigrated to the States. When he arrived from Hong Kong at 18, his father told him “You have to do it.” He bought the existing restaurant, changed the menu and employed his parents and siblings as cooks and servers. As a tribute to his family, he named the restaurant after his parents surnames -- his father (Yuet) and his mother (Lee).
Yuet Lee’s standout dishes include Fried Salt & Pepper Squid, lightly battered squid -- think Cantonese calamari. The dish has the Cantonese culinary tradition of wok hei — “breath of the wok” -- a distinctive taste and flavor the wok imparts due to the high heat. “Our squid is the most popular,” said owner Sam Yuen. “It’s because of the wok hei. There’s a particular taste and smell that you can only get from the wok.”
Lastly, Yuet Lee is a solid late-night spot, open till midnight on the weekdays and 3am on the weekends -- a good place to go after hitting up bars on Broadway Street.
Signature dishes: Salt & Pepper Squid, Sauteed Clams with Black Bean Sauce, Peking Spare Ribs
Proprietor: Sam Yuen
Address: 1300 Stockton Street
Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 11am-12am; Friday & Saturday: 11am-3am; closed Tuesdays
Phone: (415) 982-6020
Cash and credit cards accepted