Well, I just walked through the Food Court in Downtown Crossing, and I can verify that Yum Yum is still there, and they are making jianbing there (though the one I saw them finishing looked like it was going to get comically overstuffed with potatoes, some sort of meat, etc). Menu still looks interesting, so I’ll have to pay it a visit sooner or later.
In the meantime, I also finally made it to Hot Eastern, in Chinatown in that food court building. I was with a small crew, so I only ordered a handful of dishes, but what I had was promising. Their dan dan noodles (擔擔麵) offered nicely browned beef bits, and a gently spicy sauce with a hint of sesame paste (much less than Fuchsia does, and seeming more right in my book). I had a chef’s special app whose Chinese name I didn’t take down, but it consisted of thin slices of cucumber and fresh pork belly draped over a wooden dowel and suspended over a small bowl with Sichuanese chili oil. This was fantastic – chlii oil had lovely depth of flavor without overpowering, the cucumber and pork dipped in it made for a nice mix of cold and spicy, crispy and soft, a little sweet and a little fat. Just perfect. Their Sichuan dumplings (衝餃子) were not in the usual pool of chili sauce that I’m used to – that would be more like the dip for the cucumber and bacon thing. Instead they were swimming in a mix of vinegar and chili oil and broth which was interesting (though I liked it better by dipping the dumplings into the chili oil from the other starter).
We also had dry-wok beef (乾鍋肥牛), with a lovely mix of vegetable textures from lotus root and potatoes to wood ear and a sauce with a fine depth of flavor, whose chili heat caught up with you after a few bites. The northern style eggplant (北方茄子) was a nice contrast, in a velvety brown sauce, though we felt that a splash of the vinegar from the dumplings gave it the extra oomph that it needed.
In short, not necessarily the spiciest Sichuanese I’ve ever eaten (though their boiled beef 水煮牛肉 looked promisingly evil), but nice execution with real complexity of flavor. I’ll be back with reinforcements to try more stuff!