Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 10/6/21
The moment you step into Yao, you’re met with a long, ornate bar and lounge area that’s dressed to the nines. Beyond the beautiful entry, the dining room is stunning, dotted with blue, cool chairs and a vaulted, soaring ceiling that houses a large wood wall. What Yao does so well is marry the stunning ambiance with the delectable food and sippable cocktails seamlessly. They do everything with beauty and grace, like the stunning Yao’s Ice Cream, gorgeous Salt and Pepper Whole Fish, plump Pork Belly, divine Duck Salad, as well as the amazing cocktails! Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Sitting and gazing into the dining room, we started with two amazing cocktails, the Mr. Yao and the Cherish. The favorite of the two is the Mr. Yao cocktail that starts out sweet, then morphs into a tangy, earthy, sour sip. It’s complex from start to finish with a distinct wine flavor that gives it a defined earthiness! The gorgeous The Cherish is easy on the eyes and the tongue. The cocktail is one part tangy and the other foamy with an almost floral and earthy end. It’s dynamic and sippable.
Moving into the small plates and appetizers, we were thrilled with the little watermelon bite they brought us prior to our meal. It is the cutest little dish in a small spoon with a huge Yao flag sticking out the top. The bite itself is sweet, salty, and an earthy light crunch. It is such a good little bite! Of the appetizers and small plates, we have to state up front, we’re huge pork belly fiends. If it’s on the menu, we get it. If you get one appetizer or small plate at Yao, please get the Pork Belly. It’s a perfectly cooked, tender piece of meat with a rich and buttery first bite finished with a hearty soy back. Plus, the addition of the dried fish gives it extra saltiness to complete the flavor complexity! Some of the best pork belly we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a lot. Another one of our favorites is the Duck Salad. Absolutely eye-catching and heaping, the skin-on duck itself is rich and crunchy, while the sauce is slightly sweet with tangy pomegranate and earthy pine nuts. The greens brighten this dish, and it’s stellar, never had anything like it.
On to the entrée, we settled on the Salt and Pepper Fish and we’re so glad we did. Beyond the STUNNING presentation, the fish is flaky inside surrounded by a light crunch and brightened by the tangy scallions and garlic below the fish. Then, we paired it with the Sichuan Green Beans that were a good balance of spice, savory, and crunch. The best part is down in the bottom where the sauce pools. One of the best things you can do here is to mix and match the flavors of the fish and the green beans. It’s divine.
Whatever you do, stay for dessert and the Yao’s Ice Cream is an experience all it’s own. Surrounded by dry ice a served SMOKING, not only is it beautiful and the presentation flawless, but the flavor is creamy and smooth! The addition of the salted egg yoke provides for a change in flavor profile and texture! Then, you have to eat to the back for a gelatinous surprise! The perfect way to end this fantastic meal.
Are you ready to go Yao? What would you try?