I don’t like eating out with people (hence the name of my blog), which is probably a good thing since my parents are absolutely terrible dining companions. My dad is easily the PICKIEST eater that I know. Just to list off a few of the things that he won’t touch:
1. Anything containing onions, scallions, garlic
2. Anything that has heat/spice
3. Anything smoked
4. Most fried/deep-fried foods
5. Most barbecued foods
6. Most meats
So in short, everything that I like to eat he hates. In fact, the only thing that he seems to “like” are white carbs (noodles, rice, buns, bread) and plainly cooked (i.e. steamed or boiled) vegetables and seafood. My mother, while much less picky when it comes to food, is a walking stereotype of a “cheap Asian”. Case in point, the last time we actually ate out together at a restaurant (and part of the reason why it was the last time), she basically spent the entire time complaining about the less than generous portions and how we’re being ripped off and how she could make the same dishes for a fraction of the price yada yada…
But enough of me complaining. Unlike my parents, I love eating and I don’t mind being a sucker and getting “ripped off” by restaurants. And since it’s Father’s Day, it was an opportunity for me to kill two birds both by treating my dad and also having the opportunity to try another restaurant from Skipthedishes. I picked Yu Xiang Yuan, partly because it’s relatively close to my house so I can order pickup and avoid paying for delivery (crap, I’m becoming frugal like my mom), and partly because they specialize in noodles, which is actually one of the few things that my dad will actually eat. In order to keep within his tastes, I got their Fried Cutting Noodle (with BBQ pork because I just couldn’t resist), Steamed Seafood Dumplings and Stir-fried Fresh Shrimp. I also got their Sweet Soy Glazed Spare Ribs and (lamb) Kebab since I really wanted some meat.
Lamb Kebab ($2.5)
I only ordered 1 kebab since I was worried about the lamb having that “gamey” taste. This wasn’t a problem in this case; in fact, the lamb was so fragrant that I actually wonder if it as really lamb. It was super flavourful and had a nice heat (which I like; take that, dad). If I had known that it was this good, I’d have ordered at least 2 more skewers.
Stir-fried Fresh Shrimp ($17.50)
To keep with my dad’s tastes, I picked the plainest, mildest-sounding seafood dish that was available. To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much at all from just looking at the dish: seafood’s generally not my favouirte (I do like it, but I’ll pick meat over fish/shellfish any time) and the dish looked quite bland. I’m therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that it was actually well-seasoned. The shrimp seemed quite fresh with a nice and bouncy texture. Moreover, there was actually a large amount of shrimp (and not much “filler” vegetables), so I guess it’s less of a “rip off” than most places.
Sweet Soy Glazed Spare Ribs ($15.50)
I unabashedly LOVE sweet and sour pork/chicken and all dishes similar to it (lemon, General Tso, honey garlic etc). I don’t care if it’s pedestrian or “inauthentic”, I think it tastes freaking delicious and I’ll order it whenever I have the chance. Hence, I really enjoyed the spare ribs. The meat had a fantastic crispy exterior and a tender juicy interior, and was covered in a delicious sweet and sticky sauce. There was quite a bit of cartilage however. Moreover, the price is pretty steep (although the portion is decent and the meat quality is probably better than your typical average Manchu Wok).
Fried Cutting Noodles with BBQ Pork ($12.95)
This turned out to be the biggest disappointment, which is a bit surprising since it’s supposed to be their speciality. Maybe it’s because of the takeout packaging, but a lot of the noodles ended up getting stuck together, forming a large clump. Moreover, it was quite underseasoned and bland. On the positive side, the noodles (once I managed to untangle them) did have a good bouncy texture. It also appears to be cooked with some scallions/onions and chili peppers, which I enjoyed (but my dad probably hated).
Steamed Seafood Dumplings ($12.50)
As with the shrimp, I ordered the mildest sounding dumplings available to keep my dad happy. My instincts in this case turned out to be right, and this ended up being his favourite dish. Although I was personally a bit turned off by the fact that these dumplings were steamed (as opposed to fried, which is a far superior cooking method in my opinion), these turned out to be pretty good. The wrapper was nice and bouncy (I think that they’re probably also made in house like their noodles) and the filling was aromatic and flavourful. Although they wouldn’t have been my first choice (I’d have gone for their pan-fried pork dumplings), they were still good for what they were.
While the noodles at Yu Xian Yuan turned out to be a bit of a dud (although I might be a bit unfair in my assessment since it was crammed into a takeout box), their other dishes certainly made up for it. This has certainly earned a place on my (quite short) list of spots with food that the entire family can enjoy.