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Yunnan BBQ

Restaurants, Chinese Lower East Side
1 out of 5 stars
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczYunnan BBQ
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczYunnan BBQ
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczPork ribs at Yunnan BBQ
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczDuck egg fried rice at Yunnan BBQ

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

In 2012, Erika Chou sought to introduce New Yorkers—already well versed in the peppercorn sting of Szechuan and the sour-and-smoke interplay of Hunan—to the multipersonality rain-forest cooking of China’s southwesterly region with Yunnan Kitchen. But the restaurant’s market-driven, seemingly Chinese-by-way-of-California small plates did little to grip diners looking for a novel taste of an unfamiliar cuisine.

So Chou and chef Doron Wong did what many struggling teams have done to keep restaurants afloat: switched concepts, swapping out Kitchen for BBQ and small plates for large-format spreads. The problem is, save for a few red lanterns and overpriced-yet-underwhelming meats, not a whole lot has changed at Yunnan.

Those small plates are carried over, packed with fresh greens and herbs: fibrous stir-fried mushrooms with curls of salt-cured ham ($15), peppery chrysanthemum leaves with Asian pears and lily bulbs ($12), and wok-charred brussels sprouts tossed with crushed soybeans and flickering chilies ($12).

But, oddly, so are many of Yunnan Kitchen’s main courses, with minimal effort made to tailor them to the BBQ reboot. Cold slices of tepid tea-smoked Long Island duck (half order $22, full order $41), a former starter, are repurposed with cucumber slivers and hoisin sauce and wrapped Peking-style in eggy crêpes. The old menu’s shao kao section, a selection of grilled skewers, is neutered into a pupu platter of pasty lamb meatballs, shell-on prawns and shoddily rendered pork belly (half order $23, full order $45). The best of the barbecued bunch is a rack of chao shao pork ribs ($29), glazed in a floral chili honey, but at six ribs to an order, it’s too slight a dish to carry that price tag.

Exclamation points punctuate the new menu—“Rice & Noodle Time!”, “The Main Attraction!”—but unfortunately, the excitement doesn’t translate from page to plate.

By: Christina Izzo



Address: 79 Clinton St
New York
Cross street: between Rivington and Delancey Sts
Transport: Subway: F to Delancey St
Price: Average main course: $24.
Opening hours: Mon, Tue-Sat 5-11pm; Sun 5-10pm
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