Time Out says
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.
79 Clinton St
|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|
|Do you own this business?|