Yang's Braised Chicken Rice
13824 Red Hill Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780
I used to have a rule that I would only review restaurants after they had been around for a year. I had a few reasons for this. One was that the success rate for a new restaurant making it a whole year was actually really low, and I did not want to have a lot of closed restaurants listed alongside the right-hand side of my site. Of course, after almost nine years of writing this blog there inevitably ended up being a fair amount of restaurants that have boarded up their windows and moved along.
Another reason I choose to stay away from new restaurants is the crowds who want to experience things first. These people, who line up at restaurant openings, want either free stuff or they do it because they want to be one of the first to try something new. My course of action is to let these people experience a place first, and once the fervor dies off, then I give it a try. That's the reason we are just now trying Yang's Braised Chicken and Rice.
Yang's was all the rage when they opened their first US location just six months ago in Tustin. The lines were crazy long, with reports of people waiting up to two hours to get their food. Adding to the chaos was the fact that they only made a certain number of their bowls during each meal period. To me, it seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth, but I'm not really a big fan of waiting in lines and crowds in general. I decided I would jot this place down and save it until now.
Yang's has a pretty epic story. In the 30's in the Shandong Province of China, Yang's founder, Xialou Yang opened up a traditional restaurant, but he soon learned that people were only ordering his grandmother's chicken dish, known locally as Huang Man Chicken. So, he scraped the rest of the menu and focused on this chicken bowl, which only features chicken thigh meat, mushrooms, grandma's secret sauce, and depending on which bowl you order, a varying amount of peppers, all of which is served in clay pots. Yang's has grown very quickly in a relatively short amount of time. Since they opened their first restaurant in 2011, they now have over 6,000 locations spread throughout Asia and Australia and look to become just as successful in the US.
We got here at just before half-past six and arrived at a pretty busy restaurant. A good majority of the twenty or so tables were occupied, but most did not have any food on them. We ordered at the counter and snagged one of the freshly cleared tables. A good majority of the people waiting here, especially the family of four to our right really seemed like they were pretty angry with the amount of time that they had to wait for their meals. The father got up at least two times to complain to the girls at the counter. We were more patient, but it did take us about a half hour to get our food, from the time we ordered. Not as quick service as we expected, but no biggie, we had no other plans for this evening. Let's see what all this hoopla was all about.
They offer three kinds of Yang's Braised Chicken Bowls ($9.99), regular, authentic, and spicy. The top picture is a shot of Katie's regular bowl. Notice the absence of the sliced serrano peppers, as she was a little nervous about the spice level. I was also nervous about the spice, so I only went with the authentic one which had the sliced peppers added. The peppers added just a tinge of spice, and I'd probably go with the spicy version next time. This was a very comforting dish. Kind of like a chicken stew, perfect for the slightly chilly night we were eating this. The chicken was nice and tender, and the ratio of the chicken to rice was right about on point. The sauce is what made this dish a winner though. It tied the rice and chicken together wonderfully, with a hint of ginger detected. Do be aware that when this comes out of the kitchen it is extremely hot and will burn your mouth if you do not let it sit for a few minutes.
Yang's is the type of place that I can see us returning to, but with only one dish it will have to be when we are craving it. It would also have to probably be a pretty cool night for us to make the trek back here, as this is definitely colder weather food. I can't see myself eating here in the heat of July. The bowl was good though, and I can see why Yang's has gotten so popular in Asia and Australia. I think they still have some work to do in getting the food out of the kitchen a bit faster, or maybe they were just having an off night. Glad we had the chance to give Yang's a try without having to brave the crowds and risking them running out of food like they did when they first opened.
Out of five springs, (because one of the most visited tourist spots in the Shandong Province, where this restaurant got its start is the 72 Famous Springs), five being best to zero being worst, Yang's Braised Chicken Rice gets 3 springs.
For more information about Yang's Braised Chicken Rice, head to their website here: https://ymyusa.com/