The Yuan/原汁原味 is a cozy, casual Cantonese restaurant located right on Wan Chai Road. The restaurant's Chinese name, 原汁原味 (yuán zhī yuánwèi), is a food idiom that literally translates to "natural juice, natural flavor", and typically refers to an item's original and authentic taste.
The Yuan aims to create such original and authentic "tastes" by bringing out the natural flavors of ingredients without using any MSG. The restaurant focuses on seafood but has many Cantonese classics on the menu.
We first noticed it in our neighborhood because, admittedly, we saw Bibendum (the Michelin man) grinning at us from a poster at the front of the restaurant. We were intrigued and soon stopped in to try it.
The Yuan is quite foreigner-friendly and it's quite clear they revamped it to cater to the Michelin-seeking crowd. There's an English language menu with colored pictures of all the dishes. They even have a section dedicated to "Michelin recommended" dishes.
We decided to try one of the recommended dishes, the Pumpkin-Braised Chicken (pictured above). The dish consists of a whole pumpkin hollowed out and filled with chicken braised in a rich and creamy pumpkin sauce. It was simple but hearty and satisfying.
Another favorite is the classic Cantonese Steamed Chicken which comes with a generous pile of minced ginger and scallions. The chicken is extremely tender and flavorful, and the ginger and scallion sauce is addictive!
Sichuan Glass Noodle Soup ($68 HKD) has a nice spicy mala kick and tasty glass noodles.
For vegetables, the Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli with Dried Shrimp did the job, providing us with healthy greens that were cooked just right so that they still maintained a bit of crunch.
A simple stir fried Chinese Broccoli with Garlic is also delicious.
For something a bit more interesting, try the Chinese Chives with cashews, shrimp, and topped with deep fried baby fish (which have the umami of fish but the crunch of potato strings).
The nourishing Double Boiled Soup is simple yet flavorful.
Taro duck is creamy and flavorful.
One of our favorites, steamed rice with scallops and garlic!
Fried Rice with Uni and Roe was one of the more disappointing, ordinary dishes on the menu. I wouldn't recommend this one, since the quality of the toppings didn't stand out enough to make it worth the extra cost.
General Thoughts - The Yuan Wan Chai 原汁原味
All in all, The Yuan is a solid option for delicious, authentic Chinese food in a casual, no-fuss environment. Some would argue that you could get some of these dishes at a local Cantonese cha chaang teng for a lot cheaper, but then you would be dealing with all-Chinese menus, staff that only speak Cantonese, and a louder and less comfortable environment. You'll also likely encounter MSG.
We have been back several times since discovering The Yuan almost a year ago. We like it because it offers friendly service, no wait (there's always a table available), and (reasonably) healthy and tasty food. Overall, it's an easy, convenient, and efficient place to enjoy a meal every now and then.
The Yuan Wan Chai
G/F, 141 Wan Chai Road
This is the forty-ninth (!) post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.