On the opening day of his new restaurant, Yan Yu welcomed his first customers, alternating between English, Cantonese and his own mother tongue, Mandarin.
âI’ve always wanted to be able to show people my food the way we make it at home,â she said.
YuYan Kitchen is where she can now start doing it.
This new Chinese restaurant officially opened last week in Fat City, on the property that has housed the Korea House for three decades.
It is a showcase of Mandarin-style cuisine, one of the distinct cuisines found in different regions of China.
Steamed buns, or bao, are chewy puffs of soft dough, with a subtly sticky texture and a soft chew enclosing a dollop of ginger-flavored sausage.
The spicy beef soup is built around pieces of meat cooked slowly until they fall apart easily under the chopsticks, for a rich flavor and texture similar to the local debris style of roast beef. This shares a bowl with sprigs of dark and pleasantly bitter Chinese broccoli, egg noodles and a thin, heady broth with a sour flavor and a hint of tangy spiciness.
One of the special specialties of YuYan Kitchen is the dragon-eyed meatballs. These arrive two on a plate with rice and broccoli. They are about the size of a baseball and look a lot like meatballs in Italian cuisine, without the red sauce. Slice it, and a whole boiled egg is revealed inside, the yolk giving the appearance of a dragon’s eye. The pork and beef mixture wrapped around is smooth and moist with a lightly salted juice.
Yu laughs that it’s kind of like a Chinese version of a Scottish Egg, the pub snack that wraps hard-boiled eggs in sausage before dipping it all in a deep fryer.
She had fun at the start for the restaurant, showing newcomers the cornerstones of her home cooking.
The restaurant’s name is based on Yu’s name and the practice in China of addressing people by their last name and then their first name.
Yu is from Tianjin, a city near Beijing in northern China. It is the first restaurant for Yu and her husband Javier Serrano, who grew up in Mid-City and traces his family roots back to Honduras. The two met in China while Serrano was on a mission for the energy company where he works. Now that their two boys have grown up a bit, the couple have decided to start a business.
Yu is developing YuYan Kitchen in phases, starting with a short menu. She plans to add other specialties.
âWe’re going to focus on a few dishes first to give people a taste, and then expand it,â Yu said.
Eventually, this could include hot pots to cook at the table, using the grids already built into the tables, a staple of the barbecue cooking that Korea House once served here.
3547 18th street, MÃ©tairie (504) 888-0654
Mon-Sat, 11:30 am-8:30pm
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