There’s always a sense of anticipation surrounding an empty storefront on College Hill. Sure, we might long for the days when an incredibly useful convenience store occupied the corner of Thayer and Euclid — take the hint, local entrepreneurs — but coupled with that desolation is hope for the future: someday, some new business is coming in there. Eventually.
Brunonians who frequent the eastern end of campus had become used to this feeling while staring at the façade that once was Iron Wok. Luckily, Yan’s Cuisine, a Chinese restaurant reminiscent of its predecessor, opened up a few weeks ago in the once-abandoned storefront on the corner of Brook and Benevolent. The newcomer offers a surprisingly diverse set of options. You can go for dishes typical of Americanized Chinese fare (General Tso’s chicken, steamed pork dumplings, egg rolls, etc.), or you can be brave and try one of an impressive selection of less popular items, like “House Special Neck Bone” and “Lion’s Head Meat Ball.” (Ed. – We’re taking submissions for artistic renderings of the latter dish).
In sampling the food at Yan’s Cuisine, we thought it would be best to try a little bit of everything: ordering the dinner combination plate, sure to be a takeout favorite, allowed us to taste the crab Rangoon, pork fried rice, and General Tso’s, while ordering the Mapo Tofu and steamed veggies gave us some insight into how vegetarians might like the place.
The egg drop soup and steamed pork dumplings were both solid appetizers. Though some of the dumplings were a bit watery, their sheer size (and low price) give me little reason to complain. And while the tofu came wrapped in all of its expected brown sauce glory, the General Tso’s was uncharacteristically goop-less. It thus lacked some of the kick you would usually associate with the dish, though it probably was also much lower in sodium than usual.
The pork fried rice, crab Rangoon, and vegetables, on the other hand, were fantastic. Steaming vegetables often leaves you with a watery, mushy mess, but the kitchen at Yan’s — that’s the abbreviation; get with the program — did quite well with this plate in particular.
The restaurant does have some work to do, though. The friendly staff is admittedly still figuring out parts of the menu — what dishes come with a free bowl of white rice, which plates match the food porn on the menu — but I’d chalk most of it up to growing pains that come with the opening of any new business.
Overall, the dining experience Yan’s is about what you would expect it to be. You shouldn’t come in here expecting an authentic fine dining experience (particularly given the deal you’re getting), but, given the surprisingly small Chinese food scene on College Hill, Yan’s Cuisine should still become a dependable option for students, especially those who live far from Shanghai.