By ROBIN GARR
IÂ wouldnâ€™t want to say that Iâ€™m an incurable fanboy, but I canâ€™t deny that Iâ€™ve spent more than a few long days lining up at Oxmoor Center, eagerly waiting my turn to be among the first to grab the latest and greatest iDevice from the Apple store.
And better yet, if hunger pangs strike after a few hours of inching ever so slowly forward in the quest for your iThing, you can always make a quick food run to Yang Kee Noodle, bribing your neighbors to save your spot by promising them a delivery of steaming pad thai, sizzling egg rolls or an oversize cup of hot-and-sour soup.
The iPhone is so ubiquitous these days, itâ€™s surprising to realize that it has been less than six years since the earliest adopters lined up for the original version on June 29, 2007. Yang Kee Noodle, born Aug. 19, 2003, was already a fixture by then: It will celebrate its 10th birthday this summer.
With its tasty pan-Asian dishes designed by Chef John Castro of Winstonâ€™s at Sullivan University and the look and feel of a well-capitalized national â€œpremium fast casualâ€ chain, Yang Kee Noodle fits right in among the national chain eateries at Oxmoor Center.
I canâ€™t help wondering if expansion wasnâ€™t part of Yang Keeâ€™sÂ original dream, but at this point weâ€™ve got the only Yang Kee Noodle anywhere, and itâ€™s an affordable treasure. Everything is made from scratch daily, and the chefs work in public view. The kitchen is stocked with quality meats and healthy grape-seed oil for stir-frying, and everything is cooked to order, with a gracious response to most special requests, including substitutingÂ tofu or extra veggies for the meat in many dishes.
The menu actually lists calorie information, with more nutritional data online atÂ www.yangkeenoodle.com/nutrition. There may be some things you donâ€™t rather not see, but Iâ€™m glad I noticed that my Firecracker Chicken serving totaled 1,201 calories and 2,214 milligrams of sodium, which prompted me to eat half and take the rest home for another day.
Yang Kee Noodleâ€™s menu features dishes from all over East Asia: from Thailand and Vietnam to Japan, Korea and China, of course. In addition to noodle dishes, you may choose rice, brown rice, build your own stir-fry combo, or go the Atkins route by substituting mixed veggies for the noodles or rice for a 99-cent surcharge. Everything on the menu is well under $10, making it a financially prudent option for families on an Oxmoor shopping trip.
We started with a bowl of egg-drop soup ($2.79), which was steaming hot, full of scrambled egg shreds but not overly chicken-ey, and a delicious starter, cool lettuce wraps ($6.39), a quarter iceberg lettuce wedge to use as scoops for a spicy, smoky mix ofÂ chicken or fried tofu bites with crunchy rice noodles.
The aforementioned Firecracker chicken ($7.99), a Korean-style dish also available with tofu, is said to be the hottest item on the menu. Thick lo mein wheat noodles tossed with protein, walnut halves, broccoli florets and onion shreds were cloaked with a fiery bright-red sauce. A tall, refillable tumbler of Vietnamese iced coffee ($2.29) helped cool the fire.
A fillet of crispy white sea bass ($9.69) was fried golden brown and topped with a colorful mix of stir-fried snow peas, bell peppers and onions in a tangy orange-ginger sauce.
A hearty lunch for two, with some leftovers to take home for another day, came to $30.91, plus a $6 tip.
Yang Kee Noodle
7900 Shelbyville Road