Yu Kitchen serves delicious food from all over the central and northern regions of China. On one side of the menu, you’ll notice cumin lamb or beef soup served with pita bread from the northwestern part of the country. Then at the bottom of the same page, you’ll see Chongqing chicken and Chengdu dry pot meals. Whenever we eat here, we always gravitate towards the Sichuan dishes.
For a while, our go-to spot for Sichuan food on the Upper West Side was always the Han Dynasty location on 85th Street. That place is still useful to keep in mind, but we’d also recommend trying Yu Kitchen on Broadway for takeout or a casual meal - especially for anyone living or working near Columbia.
Half-inch cubes of firm silken tofu coated in enough viscous doubanjiang-intensified sauce that they’re each evenly glossed. Unlike a lot of restaurants serving mapo tofu in NYC, Yu Kitchen uses minced beef instead of pork. While this garlic-forward mapo tofu certainly tastes fiery from the handful of Sichuan peppercorns swimming around and funky from fermented beans, you’ll only notice the numbing effect after your mouth empties and you remember to breathe. It’s delicious, and automatically comes with a side of white rice.
There’s something biblical about the way these pork centers explode with broth and steam out of their pearl-white, thick wrappers. Three pieces of advice: dunk one into the deep red chili oil such that you scoop up lingering scallions and peppercorns, refrain from wearing white, and prepare for the person dining with you to call you out on eating more than your allotted share.