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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yang's Cafe

Monday I was out running errands. I had the day off so I finally got around to renewing my car registration which had expired a month earlier. While I was in the neighborhood, and since it was payday, I thought I'd get lunch. I'd been to Raisin' Cane's recently and thought of going there again because those chicken strips are damn good but then I realized I was in the Yang's Cafe neighborhood.

I googled Yang's Cafe and found this review on this very site written by Sarah about 2 1/2 years ago. I hadn't been there in about 3 years, so I figured it was time again to write about how awesome Yang's Cafe is.

The location, between TJ Maxx and America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, has always seemed sort of otherworldly for me. At least 10 years ago, before it was Yang's Cafe, I remember eating Chinese-style shrimp curry there on a Sunday afternoon in October and hearing the guy behind the counter saying into the phone "Giants -5, 49r's +7, Broncos -4" and feeling this little thrill because I was in a Chinese restaurant doubling as a sports' book. It was like I was in New York or Chicago or something.

Fast forward 10 years and it's still like that in the sense that it doesn't seem like I'm in a Chinese/Korean restaurant in a strip mall in Lincoln. It's not that they take bets on Royals games but that the inside of the restaurant is so claustrophic and loud and everyone is so friendly. When I walked in around 1300 on Monday the place was about half full. A woman was seated at a table in the middle of the room making crab rangoon, slathering slightly crabby cream cheese on won ton wrappers.

Lunch is buffet time though you can order from the menu. I had the buffet which has inflated to $5.15 in the years since our last review. Yang's Cafe has continued its policy of keeping a small buffet with about a dozen items on it including soup and I think that's a wise choice. Any chef will tell you the more things on the menu, the more likely things are going to go bad. I can vouch for that rule as applied to Chinese buffets.

The buffet featured my favorite Yang's dish, spicy potato pork, which is shoestring cut potatoes fried quickly to make them soggy but not crisp so the potatoes take the place of noodles when they're stir-fried with the pork and chilis. The classic beef and broccoli also took on a different and delicious flavor as the beef was stir-fried in a spicy, garlicky red sauce. The big winner on the buffet was the tofu. It was crisp on the outside and luscious and creamy inside. I actually think this was some of the best fried tofu I've ever had.

Their menu is also worth trying and I'll need to get back their soon to try some of the specials and Korean dishes. They have a pork bulgogi I'd really like to check out which is similar to the standard beef version but is made with pork belly, which I was introduced to via Iron Chef about 12 years ago but since then has made its way into high-end kitchens all over the country.

The service at Yang's was also top-notch even after the place had filled up. My glass of iced tea was always over half-full no matter how fast I drank it.

Look for a dinner review of Yang's as soon as I can get there again.


Anonymous Jon said...

Yang's is good stuff. I used to love that place during law school. It's the best Chinese in Lincoln. The Korean spare ribs are also tasty.

5:40 PM  

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