Let’s get this out of the way. I didn’t find the fiery Szechuan fare I was seeking at Yu Noodles. The Yibin Spicy Dry Noodle pictured above is just one of the surprisingly insipid dishes that has two chiles next to it on the menu. But that’s not to say that I didn’t find things to obsess me at the buzzed-about Fairfax restaurant.
I was excited to try their Shanghainese-style pan-fried pork buns and I wasn’t disappointed. Four of the buns come in a $6.50 order. It’s enough for a meal, but it’s hard to stop at just one plate. The fluffy exterior on top gives way to a crisp bottom. Inside, a moist center of ground pork was almost enough to make me forget that soup dumplings will soon be on the menu.
If I were to order one of the noodle dishes again, it would be the one based around flounder and pickled cabbage. In that bowl, al dente rice noodles get their flavor more from the tangy cabbage than the heat of chiles. Seaweed lends a briny touch to the mild fish.
But the dish that I nearly inhaled was dessert. I fell in love with sago desserts eating my way through Flushing, N.Y.’s Chinatown years ago and hadn’t had one yet in NoVA. It’s much like tapioca pudding, but made with starch from palm trees instead. At Yu Noodles, the chewy little sago balls bob in a mango flavored cream, topped with chunks of mango. It’s not spicy noodles, but it’s a taste that will necessitate a return visit all the same. // 11217 C Lee Hwy., Fairfax
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