Dinner Out @ Yat Ka Mein

I had been to Yat Ka Mein one time several years back, and since that was before I was really, truly paying attention to what I was eating, and certainly before I'd read Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper and been really interested in Chinese food, it was time for a return visit.  I've been on the lookout for some authentic options, and I was hoping this visit might take me in the right direction.  A recent trip to Cathay Kitchen in search of dim sum did not turn out as planned (post coming soon), but Yat Ka Mein did not disappoint - in fact, it was very good!

The Food:  Taking a quick scan of the dinner menu, Yat Ka Mein has a good mix of typical American Chinese options - sesame chicken, sweet and sour chicken, etc.  But, they've also got enough things you probably have not heard of that made me believe their might be a higher level of authenticity here.

We ordered the brisket soup, ho fun with chicken, and veggie fried rice (so we'd have something with a bit of vegetables).  The ho fun came out first, and it had tender chicken, thick tasty noodles, and was was covered in a light gravy-like brown sauce.  I added sriracha to give it a kick, while the crisp bean sprouts and carrots add texture.  Our brisket soup followed quickly, and had a lightly aromatic broth (I bit into a small piece of anise that gave away that secret).  This was very good - Sarah tasted first and said "oh, you're going to like this."  Meat was flaking apart, and went well with the Chinese broccoli and thin ramen-esque noodles.  Finally, the fried rice was simple and tasty and came with lots of veggies - we found zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, onion, napa, bean sprouts, peas, scallion, and carrot.  It tasted super fresh, and was the best fried rice I've had in quite some time.

To top it all off, even the fortune cookies tasted good!

The Ingredients:  There was nothing on the menu about local or organic ingredients.  Par usual, we'll have to ask the next time we come.  It always feels like it would be an extra imposition/hassle to ask about ingredients on the first trip to a place, especially one where you're paying $8 for an entree.  But, ask we will - on the next trip, and then we'll update the post.

The Story, Setting, & Service:  Sitting in the same strip mall as the Aveda Institute and Penn Station, it would be easy to live around the corner from Yat Ka Mein and never give it a second thought.  It's also a stone's throw from Wild Ginger and Lemon Grass - two Thai places - and a handful of other restaurants.

They proudly advertise "noodles for your noodle," and their kids menu is "for the growing noodle," showing their sense of humor.  Our server was very nice, and had a jovial, helpful energy.  He said their Cantonese, but they have food from several Chinese provinces as well as other places across Asia.  If you're in the neighborhood, they deliver for $2 as well. 

The Last Bite:  Yat Ka Mein offers a simple, pleasant ambiance and kind service.  The food is fresh and tasty, and has some great flavors happening.  We'll definitely order the beef brisket noodle soup bowl again - the meat was tender, the broth had great depth, and the anise made it a bit aromatic as well.  Interesting flavors that are not easy to find in Cincinnati.

Yat Ka Mein Noodle House on Urbanspoon


Cincinnati Bites said...

Man, I was just there and after seeing your photo of the brisket noodle soup I MUST go back soon! A hidden gem of a place. The Dan Dan Noodles are my personal fave.

Gavin DeVore Leonard said...

Cincinnati Bites - that soup is worth going back for. Funny, I just bought the ingredients to make dan dan noodles yesterday! I'll have to try them at Yat Ka Mein too...