After a rather disappointing meal at Asia Asia last week, and an insatiate desire for good Chinese food, M and I ventured out to Yuan at The avenues in Atlantis Palm Jumeirah. I wanted to see if Yuan would hit the spot the way Hakkasan always does, and it came very close.
The minute we walked in, we knew we are in for a treat- despite the half-empty restaurant. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and just been able to tell this won’t be a let down? This was one of those cases.
As we sat down on our table, I noticed that the spoon rest was made to look like a Chinese opera mask. I love little details like this.
Our server, Kevin, brought us our menus, made some recommendations, tried to get us to order less than what we wanted (haha), and suggested mocktails which were far sweeter than we would have liked. Nevertheless, the manager and the food saved the night.
We started off with taro and prawn crackers, served with 3 kinds of sauces: xo, chili and and hot wing (?) sauce. Anyone who knows me knows what an absolute sell-out I am for a good spicy sauce. And these guys had 3!
Anywho, on to the real food.
Here’s what we had:
Wasabi prawns. Barring the confusion of wasabi in a Chinese restaurant (because everything is a mish-mash under the ocnvenient guise of “Pan-Asian” these days), these were pretty good. M found the wasabi to be a little overpowering, but I thought it was just right.
The dim sum “platter”, which comprised of an assortment of 4 different dim sum, was very colorful and quite the piece of eye candy. My favorite was the one made with squid ink and stuffed with prawn and scallop.
I’m a total fool for prawn toast and love making it at home too. When I saw that there was a phenomenon such as LYCHEE prawn toast on the menu, I knew I had to try it. Due to no addition of artificial flavoring, I couldn’t really taste the lychee in this, but I did like it overall. Beware of the crazy amounts of heat trapped inside the lychee though, and I burnt my mouth a little as I bit into it without realizing I need to let it cool a bit. I especially loved the crispy-fried enoki mushrooms on the side.
On to the mains, lo and behold, ladies and gentlemen: the best prawn stir-fry….ever. Big, juicy, batter fried prawns which were then tossed in a white-peppery sauce that was well-rounded and hit all the right notes of spicy and salty without being overly drenched in soy sauce (which is a go-to solution for far too many faux “Chinese” Or “Pan-Asian” restaurants.
I wanted the closest thing to chow mein, and the server suggested the vegetable-fried noodles. They were nice, but not the best I’ve had. Din Tai Fung do Chow Mein better. Perhaps there wasn’t enough MSG in these?
The stellar dish of the night, the Mapo Tofu with Minced chicken, was recommended to us by the manager when M expressed his desire for something saucy/with some gravy. This was found in the “Home Type” section of the menu and we instantly knew it would be right up our alley. Tofu + home style, it had to be a home run, and it was. Whenever M and I go back to Yuan, the prawn stir fry and Mapo Tofu are the two dishes we will most certainly order again.
Of course we had to get some vegetable-fried rice on the side. M is a weirdo who always prefers boiled rice instead, but there’s no way I can ever turn down the opportunity to have fried rice instead.
For dessert, I went for the path less trodden and ordered the most unusual sounding one that promised to be as far from the standard chocolate fondant and as “Asian” as as a fine-dining dessert could be: Corn custard with corn crisp, corn crumble, coconut sorbet, and sweet milk snow. It tasted exactly like the description in the menu, and exactly how I wanted it to. Expect nothing but pure indulgence from this dessert, as there were no berries or citrus to cut through the richness of it all. The helping was quite big, and good to share between two.
As I was halfway into my dessert (which M refused to share because he didn’t want any sugar), our server brought us Yuan’s customary tray of complimentary, after-dinner macarons. Had I known that these were coming, I would have skipped ordering dessert altogether, as I was struggling to finish my dessert on my own but was still tempted to try these unique macarons! I tried one of each: coconut, peanut butter and jelly, popcorn and green tea. Of course, green tea was my favorite.
As I write this review, I’m sitting in my parents living room in Jeddah and can’t wait to take them to Yuan when their Chinese-food-loving selves visit Dubai next. Thank you, Yuan, for a delightfully delicious meal.