Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Yea's Wok

6969 Coal Creek Parkway S.E.
Newcastle, WA
(425) 644-5546

Yea's Wok specializes in Hunan, Szechuan, and particularly Mandarin cuisine, and thus offers a change from the usual Cantonese fare offered around the Seattle area. What really sets Yea's Wok apart, though, is the lack of "Americanization" of the food. Customers will find a lot of their favorite dishes served at most Chinese restaurants, but they seem to be prepared in a more traditional Chinese manner than at the places that serve what they think most Americans have come to expect. Peter Yea explains that the intent of the restaurant is to provide the "best" dishes from each region of China, and when appropriate allow the chefs to add their own touch to the recipes.

Once you go to Yea's Wok, I think you will like the approach used here. Lunch specials are served, and although I am usually skeptical of the type of dishes served on the specials, the 63 choices served here offer quite a few interesting plates.

The Hot and Sour Soup, served free with lunches (unless you choose egg flower soup), is probably the best I have ever tasted. The soup had a light color and was well balanced between the different ingredients.

On the waitress' suggestion I tried the House Special Chicken in Ginger Sauce. Ginger sauces usually come out very sweet, and this one had some element of it, but overall it was well balanced and the type of sauce I wish I could get at many other restaurants.

On a return trip I tried Home Style Tofu, a dish I order frequently at Chinese restaurants. The one here was not only excellent, but I think even sets a new standard for judging the ones I get at other restaurants. The sauce was more delicately balanced than I have experienced at other restaurants, and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. If I had to complain about anything it would be that the tofu should be cooked more on the inside.

When I went with a group of friends I hit the jackpot, not only in being able to share some great food, but also in being able to evaluate several dishes. I thought the best one served was the Seafood Tofu Pot. Hot pot dishes are some of my favorites at most restaurants, but the one here was exceptional for the flavorful sauce, the Chinese vegetables with generous portions of bok choy and mushrooms, and the seafood. I partake of seafood dishes so infrequently I was not even familiar with some of the species that were included. I just know that what was fresh and delicious here has been rubbery at many other restaurants. The scallops were excellent, and only the shrimp was of the same quality that I find at many other restaurants. The tofu met my complete approval, unlike that which had been served in the Home Style Tofu.

Yea's Shrimp was another standout item, with the "spicy tomato sauce" not only having an excellent flavor, but being worthy of the star that Yea's places on the menu for their spicy items.

Many Chinese restaurants serve cuts of meat so tough that it detracts from the flavorful sauces. The Beef with Snow Peas served at Yea's, though, was so tender it almost seemed like a different variety of meat than that which is served at the lower quality restaurants. The Hunan Beef was similarly excellent.

Orange Chicken is a dish I thought represented the Mandarin "banquet" style of food, with elegant sauces and balanced flavor (Orange Chicken is a balance between a sweet sauce and the sour orange peels). The owner, however, said the dish was probably more representative of the Hunan province where spicy dishes prevail.

One example of the creativity of the chefs is in the Tofu Hot Pot, a dish that contains vegetables and tofu without any meat. While the tofu and brown sauce were good, but pretty standard, the standout feature of the dish was the vegetables that were included. In the spring there is a market across the street from the restaurant that sells Yakima asparagus, and this may be the source for this fresh vegetable which was put into the dish along with bok choy and any other greens the chef desired to include. While I do not think all these vegetables are usually served in the tofu hot pot dish, the fact that they are included at Yea's Wok makes this one of the more worthwhile versions to try (these vegetables are only available in season, however).

Yea's Wok has a Chinese menu that includes a few items that I think are not popular with most Americans (pig's intestine, etc.). I have observed large tables that had several of these items served, and most looked delicious.

Three Cup Chicken is one of the items from the Chinese menu that I think is a definite must-try. Made with bone-in chicken, a longer than normal time is necessary to prepare the sauce and marinate the meat. Served in a hot pot, "Three Cup" refers to the fact that the chefs use sesame sauce, soy sauce, and another that the waiter did not divulge. It is quite a substantial dish that I would recommend as part of a family style dinner (unless you are prepared to take home leftovers). The preparation time has varied somewhat, and I would count on it taking at least 20-30 minutes.

You can probably go in just about any direction you want at Yea's Wok--authentic Chinese or American favorites, spicy or non-spicy, Hunan or Mandarin, traditional food or innovative dishes by the chefs. Although I think it may be more interesting to explore the Chinese menu, there seem to be plenty of authentic Chinese dishes on the regular menu at Yea's. The dishes I have enjoyed from the Chinese menu have come through talking to the owner about the items that are available, experimenting a little bit, and allowing extra time for preparation.

One thing I have observed, though, is that everything I have tried has been good (and some have been exceptional).

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Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (brewed) house
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Jun. 13, 2006

Number of Visits: 8

Best Items
Seafood Tofu Pot, Yea's Shrimp, Beef with Snow Peas, Home Style Tofu, Three Cup Chicken

Special Ratings
Seafood Tofu Pot:
Vegetable Tofu Pot:
Home Style Tofu:
Yea's Shrimp:
Three Cup Chicken:
Chicken in Ginger Sauce:
Orange Chicken:
Double Sauteed Pork:
Beef with Snow Peas:
Hunan Beef:
Hot and Sour Soup:

Health Dept. Report
King County