MEAL REVIEW: Yan’s Restaurant, Bondgate Within, Alnwick

Chicken and noodle soup at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

Chicken and noodle soup at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

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If ever there is an example of good things coming to those who wait, then Yan’s Restaurant is certainly it.

Ever since moving to Alnwick from Essex more than six years ago, I have bemoaned the absence of a sit-down Chinese eatery in the town.

Crab meat and sweet corn soup at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

Crab meat and sweet corn soup at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

It had always seemed odd to me that there was not a restaurant offering the tastes of the Orient, especially as this style of food is so popular with punters.

But now that wait is over. And Yan’s is definitely a case of better late than never.

Located in the former Tower Restaurant premises on Bondgate Within, this new eatery, which opened towards the end of last year, is a welcome edition to Alnwick’s culinary scene.

And not just because it fills the void of a missing Oriental sit-down venue.

Chinese, Alnwick, Eating Out

Chinese, Alnwick, Eating Out

With it’s intimate surroundings and high-quality food, this Cantonese eatery is a place that the town can be proud of.

I’d heard some good things about it before walking through the door on Sunday evening.

The positive reviews were certainly well-founded.

And perhaps word is spreading. My partner and I had originally planned our Yan’s date for the Friday, but having rung up earlier that day to book a table, I was told that the restaurant was full that evening.

Beef in satay sauce at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

Beef in satay sauce at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

So we reserved a table for 6.15pm, two days later. Despite it being a cold, wet night, the venue was near enough full. Impressive stuff for a Sunday at the start of January.

The restaurant itself has a comfortable, cosy feel.

Various paintings and etchings from the Orient adorn the lime-green walls.

There is also a large, beckoning cat (maneki-neko) figurine in an alcove at the far end of the restaurant for good measure. But that’s not to say that Yan’s is tacky. Far from it.

Fortune cookies at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

Fortune cookies at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

The tables are nicely spaced; enough for there to be a pleasant buzz and hum from diners’ chatter, but without that feeling of people sitting on top of one another.

Popular music was playing softly in the background, although I personally would have liked to have heard more authentic sounds.

The menu itself offers a decent selection, from soups and starters to meats and curries, rice/noodles and side dishes. The vegetarian offering also seemed extensive.

Having munched our way through the complimentary prawn crackers, we both decided to have soup for starters.

My partner chose chicken and noddle, while I opted for crab meat and sweet corn (both £3.50).

There was a generous helping and thankfully neither soup was gloopy – a crime which some Chinese eateries can commit.

Egg fried rice at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

Egg fried rice at Yan's Restaurant, Alnwick.

The chunks of chicken were a decent size and Yan’s certainly didn’t skimp on the quantity.

The crab meat was tasty, although I would have liked to have had a bit more seafood in my soup.

For the main course, we decided to go for sliced duck in black-bean sauce (£9.90) and beef in satay sauce (£8.90).

We had opted not to go for the half crispy aromatic duck with pancakes, shredded cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce (£18), but I was determined to have duck at some stage.

We accompanied our main dishes with a portion of egg fried rice and chips (both £2.90).

I never usually order chips with a Chinese – that was my partner’s doing – although I will say that they were a nice addition to the meal, fairly chunky and not at all greasy.

As for the main dishes, we were not disappointed.

Both options were very colourful and vibrant, with a mix of vegetables.

The beef was tender while the duck was extremely flavoursome and not too fatty.

There was a generous helping of both meats, while the veg was cut into large chunks. Both dishes tasted very fresh indeed.

There was enough sauce to give each main suitable moisture, but neither were swimming in it.

The satay was every bit as sweet and nutty-tasting as I would have liked.

We chose not to have dessert as we were both full.

The service was good. It was attentive without being intrusive and we didn’t have to wait long between courses.

It made for a pleasurable night out and my partner and I both agreed we will return.

It may have been years since there was a sit-down Chinese in the town. Yan’s was worth the wait.

TAKE THE TASTE BACK HOME WITH YOU

Yan’s doesn’t just offer a sit-down option, as there is also a take-away service. The counter and waiting area is out of sight from the main restaurant, helping to keep the two separate. I came across the take-away area while I was going to the toilet (which is disabled-friendly) at the back of the restaurant and, for a Sunday evening, it was surprisingly busy. The dishes are cheaper on the take-away menu, compared to the restaurant.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

soups/starters

Wan tun soup £3.50

Spicy hot and sour soup £3.90

Sesame prawn toast £5.80

BBQ spare ribs £5.50

Meat dishes

Lemon chicken £8.90

Beggar’s chicken £9.90

Beef and vegetable £8.90

Cantonese steak £10.90

Noodle/rice dishes

Beef chow mein £7.90

Chicken fried rice £7.50

Rice sticks with king prawns £8.90

Boiled rice £2.50

VEGETARIAN

Mixed vegetable curry £7.50

Spicy aubergine with garlic £7.50

Bean curd, veg and cashew nuts in bird’s nest £8.90

Monk’s veg noodles £7.90

Star ratings (out of 10)

Quality of food 8

Choice 8

Vegetarian choice 8

Value for money 8

Atmosphere 8

Service 8

Children catered for 5

Toilet for disabled Yes

Access for disabled 8

Overall rating 8

Verdict: A most enjoyable experience and a welcome addition to the town’s eating-out scene.

Contact: 01665 603888. Yan’s is open six days a week, 5pm to 11pm, Wednesdays to Mondays. It is closed Tuesdays.