My friend and I were on the hunt for Chinese one night. A Saturday night actually. I had the brilliant idea that we should check out Mission Chinese- they take no reservations, but it was a snowy night, I mean, how crowded could it be? 1hr 45min wait-time crowded to be exact. F*** that. So we walked up Clinton St in snowpocolypse and came upon Yunan Kitchen. “Looks nice, has an “A” rating by the health department, let’s check it out” I said to my friend. I am so glad we did, it was like discovering a little gem in the city without ever having read about it through other reviews. It felt like my little find.
We started off with the smashed cucumber salad: amazing. Super fresh with toasted peanuts. Peanuts are so underdog next to cheerleader-popular almonds.
For our mains, we shared the special: tea smoked chicken served with pickled veg and more peanuts. The chicken was cooked Perfectly: brined in tea, braised, then quickly tossed into the deep fryer to crisp up the skin and let the fat ooze into your mouth. Ah-Maz-Ing. My only complaint is that the chicken is sliced, served with the bone on. As a diner, I assume that if my chicken has been cut into smaller portions, the bone will have been taken off, be warned.
We also ordered the braised pork fried rice. My friend thought it paled next to superstar tea-smoked chicken, I felt it was everything it said it was going to be: braised pork fried rice and nothing more. Slightly spicey, totally satisfying. Some issues I had with this dish: we were given plastic chopsticks. I just feel that plastic chopsticks are a little harder to manage than wooden, but that’s just me. I also feel rice is easier to eat out of a bowl than a plate with chopsticks. Since we were sharing the big bowl of fried rice, the plates we were given alongside for our own portions were a little useless.
Another great thing about this place was that it wasn’t filled with obnoxious diners. There were families, and couples, you could hear your accompanying diner talk without having to raise voices, and it wasn’t ridiculously packed at 8pm when we got there. It did start to get busy around 9:30 by the bar where we sat, but we were leaving anyways.
Yunan Kitchen is on Clinton at Rivington.