Yao's wows in Centereach
Tried this place after reading about it on Newsday's Feed Me blog. Yao's Diner is located in a down-at-its-heels strip mall opposite Reptile Jungle You can't miss the big Chinese letters on the sign. Inside, we were the only guilows. Nothing fancy here. A few booths and a half dozen tables. There is no printed English menu, as yet (1-30-12) but the owner/manager gave us his iPad to read a proof of the English menu attached to an email! I already knew what wanted. Alas, no dan dan noodles (I was given the impression Yao's offered spicy fare), but the hot & sour soup was well-balanced, maybe the best I ever tasted. Also enjoyed fried lamb with cumin and hot pepper -- so addictive, I finished the entire plate of tthese crisp morsels. Snow pea shoots sauted with chopped garlic was vibrant in color and flavor. We made do with the smal takeout chopsticks, but the Asians in the restaurant were given full-length tools. BTW, tea was excellent, too. You can''t find this kind of food anywhere else on Long Island, not even at The Orient, but that's a different style of cooking. Hope they receive enough support from the local Asian community to stay in business since I doubt many non-Asians will be patrons.
On your rec we went there last night. We ordered hot and "sore" (is your proofreading responsible?) soup that came after 3 other dishes which was odd. Unfortunately, the soup was "off" to our tastes. They made another bowl which was good.
Otherwise it was fantastic and a great find for Suffolk County. We had spicy shrimp with red chili peppers. The tasty shrimp was "nested" in lots of diced red chili peppers.
A shredded pork dish that was excellent. Braised eggplant, very tasty and non greasy. Noodles with bean paste and Crab with ginger and scallions which I loved. No Dan Dan noodles. The manager didn't seem to know what they were. There was a bit of a communication gap.
For a hole in the wall hard to find place it was packed on a Monday night.
We'll be back.
I went to Yao's for lunch today. The food was good and definitely did not taste like your neighborhood takeout joint. The place was empty at 1PM. It is nice looking inside, but lacks the warmth of a restaurant where they speak your language, or even try to be friendly. The hot and 'sore' soup was different than your average hot and sour, with more vinegar in it.
I was served my main course before my soup, but this may be a Chinese thing.
I got the feeling that they served the food as it was made. The soup must have been made fresh and took a little longer.
The server/manager was very solictious to us. He even "warned" us "this is not American Chinese food" "That's why we are here!" we said.
The Asian clients all seemed to love the food and the fancy chopsticks.
I've eaten there twice now. Very impressed. They finally got English menus last week, and there are some pretty exotic choices: griddled frog, griddled duck head, pork liver and kidney, etc. Had the pork in spicy garlic sauce this last time, which was excellent, along with the snow pea shoots and kung pao chicken. All delicious. Happy to have this place nearby, but I hope they last; there hasn't been more than one table seated either time I went in. So, check it out, people.