Yangtze tradition rises from the ashes
When fire destroyed the popular Yangtze Restaurant on Van Horne December 3, the reaction from its fans was immediate. A 55-year tradition, famous for its golden egg rolls, serious plum sauce and succulent garlic spare ribs—highlights of its traditional Cantonese cuisine—went up in smoke, and many West End residents felt a deep sense of loss.
The lament was so loud that the owners, while awaiting a settlement with insurance adjusters before deciding whether to rebuild, relocated two weeks later to 6066 Sherbrooke W. at Hampton, in the vacant premises of Tchang Kiang, which closed in July.
They adjusted to changing tastes by adding specialties to the Szechuan and Peking menu that Tchang Kiang had been offering. But it’s those hearty mainstays—the spare-rib-chicken fried rice-chow mein combos—that is drawing loyal Yangtze fans to the new location. The dinner for two, Yangtze-style, ranges from $22 to $35, or $12.50 to $17.50 for single diners.
Symbolizing the merger of the traditions is a painting of the former red and yellow sign that was a magnet for hungry West End residents for almost 55 years.
The new home is in a classy dining room with black furniture and fittings, Chinese lanterns and wall art, plus soft music. It is an intimate setting, with 70 comfortable chairs, and several cozy nooks. There is a full bar, but we asked for a pot of Jasmine tea to set the right mood for the evening repast.
We decided to forgo the Yangtze mainstays, opting instead for some of the newer dishes.
I chose the Peking hot and sour soup ($3.50), which was sufficiently spicy and tasty. Barbara, a vegetarian, was equally interested in soup, but was told all were made with chicken broth. Owner Marco Yao promised to rectify this.
He also said the cooks would expand the range of vegetarian offerings, which at this point are limited to three—tofu with vegetables ($12), mixed vegetables ($11), and a broccoli, black mushroom and snow pea dish ($13). This should add appeal to those who prepare their Chinese without meat, fish, or seafood, and a good move as the Yangtze reinvents itself.
At Yao’s suggestion, I was served a heaping dish of sesame beef ($13.50), which was not too sweet. The scallops came piping hot in a light sauce garnished with snow peas and red pepper.
The Chinese curried chicken ($14) was served in a brown sauce with onions, green pepper and celery and, though marked with a chile pepper, was mild.
We would suggest that those who like their dishes to have more of a bite should tell their servers when placing their orders.
We were so full, we decided against the chilled lichee dessert, saving that for our return. The espresso was a welcome surprise.