As I mentioned before, I made reservations for Yanyu for last Tuesday. Yanyu was the first of two restaurants that Amy and I tried for Restaurant Week. It is my favorite place to go during Restaurant Week because they aren't snooty about it. The portions are generous and no different than their normal menu. Also, the service is inpeccable. I've heard many stories about other restaurants treating the people that order off the "Restaurant Week" menu like second-class citizens.
Our reservation was at 8:15 and we were running behind. I didn't get home from work until 7, and Amy didn't arrive until about 15 minutes after that. By the time we were all ready, we ended up having to drive over, because the $5 valet is cheaper than a cab ride and there is no way that Amy was walking from Wisconson to Connecticut Ave in stilettos. :-) When I pulled up for the valet, though, there was no one in sight. I sat there for a little bit waiting. Now, for those of you familiar with this block on Connecticut Ave. you know that you can't just sit in front of Yanyu for long without a few cars piling up behind you. So I ended up having to circle the block...not once...not twice...but three times. The third time around, it was 8:20, and there was still no valet. Finally, I had Amy go in and tell the restaurant we were there, and I tried to find a spot on my own. I was really lucky. There was a spot only three blocks away on Porter Street.
The valet magically appeared the instant Amy entered the restaurant and asked her if she needed him to park the car. The car she was...not driving? What?
Having the whole parking situation behind us was good. I arrived back at Yanyu just in time for them to be ready to seat us. To my surprise, we were seated upstairs like I had asked when I made the reservation at OpenTable. Our waitress greeted us instantly once we were seated, asked us if we wanted some water or anything to drink and then gave us the menu for Restaurant Week. There were two different menus. One was a menu tasting menu where you had a chance to try a small version of every dish on the menu that night. The other (which both Amy and I chose) was a three-course meal where you had anywhere from 1 to 3 choices per course. The latter was more appealing to us because one of the dishes that night was a shrimp dish. I don't care for shrimp, and Amy is just outright allergic. If she eats it, it'll be a long night for both of us.
You also had the option for a wine pairing for an extra $10 which we went for. The pairing came with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. Both glasses were half glasses of wine and I did not find that they really paired well with the food (i.e. the red Noir with seafood courses). The wines on their own were wonderful though.
For our first course, I chose the seared tuna. It was cooked properly - just barely seared and completely rare in the middle. It was served in a ginger-soy sauce with cucumbers and seaweed. I liked this dish, but I was not overwelmed by it. Amy ordered the Lily Bulb Dumpling which was egg white wrapped with minced chicken and vegetables. I actually liked Amy's dumpling a lot better than my tuna.
Now the second course is what we come to Yanyu for...the Big Duck. This is their signature dish. Basically, they roast a duck, cut it up fresh right in front of you, and serve it on pancakes with cucumber, scallions, and the best little plum sauce you've ever tasted. I'm not talking that crappy, corn syrup based, runny sauce you get at the grocery store. This plum sauce is homemade, thick, and contains sesame seeds. The combination of all this is a wonderful little handful that you rollup and eat like a small taco. The way they cook the duck at Yanyu makes it come out very tender. Amy usually hates duck because it can come out gamy and chewy. Amy loves Big Duck though. (Oh, come on. Get you sick little minds out of the gutter!) We asked the waitress if we just ordered the Big Duck, how many servings would it be. That night we received two small pancakes. Each pancake had about two generous slices of duck on it. WE WANTED MORE!!! The waitress said that if we ordered just a whole duck, it would yield about 10-12 servings. I think Amy and I will just order one of them next time for ourselves.
For final course, we both ordered the sea bass. It was a choice between that and the crispy garlic shrimp. The sea bass was cooked in a honey glazed sauce. Mine was cooked perfectly medium. Amy's, however, had been cooked a little too long and was a tad chewy. She still enjoyed it though.
Although dessert was not included in the Restaurant Week menu, we ordered it anyway, opting for the ginger creme brulee. We are normally not people to order creme brulee, but the other dessert choices didn't sound interesting to us. This wasn't the best dessert we've ever had, but we enjoyed it. It wasn't terribly sweet like creme brulee usually is. It was also served with citrus fruit so it had a tart flavor as well.
Yanyu is a pretty upscale. It is not formal, but you won't find people wearing jeans or shorts. There was one guy who came in while we were eating that was dressed like Rodney Dangerfield on the golf course in Caddyshack, but he was an exception.
In the end, the bill came to around $130 after tip. It was not exactly what I was expecting to spend during Restaurant Week and when I got the bill, I was like "Huh? How did that happen? There must be a mistake here." But after I added up everything, it made sense. Was it worth the price tag on the meal? I don't know...the Big Duck was REALLY good though.
3435 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dress Code: Business Casual
Sun 5:30-10:30 pm
Tue-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 5:30-11 pm
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