By Elyse Joseph
Yang’s Braised Chicken and Rice opened its Tustin location last September. Though the popular chain has over 6,000 stores worldwide, this is the first location established in the United States. The small, sparsely decorated restaurant serves only one item: chicken cooked in a sauce with mushroom, ginger and serrano peppers. The dish, huang men chicken, originated in northern China, and Yang’s converted it into fast food, adding rice on top.
Vice President Eriko Zhao came from Shanghai with her husband to run the new location, and said they chose Tustin for a new location because of its position in Orange County.
“A lot of the other cities are in conjunction with this point,” she said.
She says that the restaurant has been well-received in Tustin by a wide range of people, rather than just those who know the chain from abroad. Zhao and her husband are also in the process of establishing new locations in Santa Ana, Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo.
There are a couple of differences in the way the company conducts business in the United States compared to their China locations — they cook with boneless chicken here, as opposed to bone-in chicken in China, and the aesthetic is simpler here: a mostly white interior with a neon sign featuring the restaurant’s name and a few newspaper reviews on the walls. However, the taste of the dish is consistent at all locations across the world.
One order of braised chicken costs $9.99 per bowl with loyalty cards available that offer one free bowl after every ten. The restaurant also accepts phone orders and delivers with Doordash and Postmates.
The braised chicken dish comes with a rich sauce that has a mixture of sweet and salty tastes as well as ginger to cut the richness, although the pieces of ginger are large enough to be removed in case a customer prefers not to eat them. This coats bite-sized pieces of tender chicken along with soft mushrooms and comes with a mound of rice on top. Peppers are added at the end of the cooking process to add a spicy dimension to the flavor. The rice is typically mixed thoroughly with the chicken and sauce before it is eaten, and the sauce is proportioned to flavor both the chicken and the rice together without making either component to dry and flavourless or too soggy and salty. The best utensil to use with this dish is a spoon to scoop a real mouthful every time.
The spice level is the only element that varies from customer to customer. Yang’s offers a “regular” option that is not spicy and has no peppers, an “authentic” option with serrano peppers that has a kick but is not overpowering, and a “spicy” option with chilli peppers instead of serrano for all the spice demons out there. Overall, the dish is tasty, flavorful and well-balanced.
Do yourself a favor and stop by Yang’s Braised Chicken and Rice at least once.