When California cuisine meet Cantonese food, you land at Mister Jui’s. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, the swanky inside of Mister Jui’s contrasts to the red lanterned decorated street and restaurants that it neighbors. It sets the stage for a different kind of Chinese meal.
Chef and owner Brandon Jew is a native to San Francisco, and Mister Jui’s is his dream project. It took him three years to transform the space, and it’s no secret why it’s one of the most sought after reservations in San Francisco.
You may be curious: Jew vs Jui – why the name change? While Brandon takes the last name Jew, Jui is actually the correct spelling of his family’s surname. Like so many other families that immigrated to the U.S., the name was altered, and has hence taken on a life of its own.
The food at this Michelin starred restaurant takes classic Cantonese dishes and reinvents them with a California twist. A few of the dishes that we tried stood out to me in particular.
The Dutch crunch BBQ pork buns. Most people have heard of San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread, but Dutch crunch is another cult-classic bread from the area. The molten, crispy crust is created by brushing the dough with a paste of rice flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and either butter or oil. It may not be healthy, but it sure tastes hella good. This dish perfectly embodies the ethos of Mister Juis because it takes this Cantonese classic and adds a San Francisco twist. In most pork buns, the insides are artificially brightened with a red sauce. However, you won’t find anything of the sort here: Jew is all about fresh and local ingredients. Instead of red dye, he uses a mixture of bull’s blood beet juice and made-in-house red-fermented tofu to get that nostalgic red color.
The sea urchin cheong fun. These wide noodles rolled in a slippery sauce are something I have seen at dim sum. Typically, any filler is hidden inside the noodle rolls, so you can never be too confident in what you are eating. At Mister Jiu’s, however, they want the local California ingredients to shine. Fresh sea urchin, caught that morning on the Mendocino coast, rested on top of the noodles. They tasted like the ocean, but most importantly, they tasted like California.
The stand out dish of the night for all of us, however, was the trout. The salt-baked trout is wrapped whole in a lotus leaf and encrusted within a salt casing. When it is presented to the table, the salt lid (which traps the heat and juices) unveils the most tender, juicy trout you will ever taste. For an added touch of flare and flavor, the trout is served with trout roe and a charred scallion sauce. My suggestion to pair it with (complementary) white rice for an unforgettable dining experience.
If you can’t snag a reservation here, you may have more luck at the Moongate Lounge, the upstairs cocktail bar with a dim sum menu. But if you are lucky to eat at Mister Jui’s you’ll see why Bon Appetite rated it as the #3 best new restaurant in America after it’s opening in 2017.