Restaurant: Yanbian Restaurant
Location: 4251 W 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90004. (213) 383-5959
Date: May 21, 2013
Cuisine: Yanbian Chinese
Rating: Great food, incredible deal!
Until a few weeks ago I hadn’t heard of Yanbian, an autonomous prefecture in the borderlands between China and Korea. But like any place, it has its own regional cuisine, and LA, being rich in Asian culture has at least one restaurant specializing in the area. My Hedonist group has been here several times, but this is my first visit.
This Koreatown hole-in-the-wall might not look like much, but the food is excellent and they did a great job handling our oversized party.
Twice cooked pork. I’ve had the meat part of this dish numerous times at Chinese, but never coupled with these “spring roll” like sides. It was all very tasty.
2010 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling. Parker 88. Honeysuckle, lime, and honeydew melon scent and generously inform the palate of Tyrell’s 2010 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese, which however suffers from some of the same sense of opacity and diffusion as the corresponding Kabinett. A surprisingly soothing, glycerin-rich, and honeyed palate impression leads to a finish that would benefit from a bit more sheer juiciness and less overt sweetness, though there is just enough citrus to serve for some refreshment. Perhaps time will bring further complexity and clarity. I am more inclined to credit this with some serious bottle potential – surely at least a dozen years – than I am most of the wines that preceded it in the present Karthauserhof line-up.
I also brought a bottle of:
2011 Joh Jos Prum Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr. Parker 93. Prum’s 2011 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett is a tad higher in residual sugar and correspondingly lower in alcohol than its immediate stable mates, but as one would expect from this great site, if anything the taste impression is drier. A ravishing nose of heliotrope and honeysuckle, Normandy cider and wet stone establishes the common themes for a palate performance that unites delicacy, juiciness and creaminess to an uncanny degree that only a few of the best Mosel vineyards and their prime caretakers can capture. Mouthwateringly lingering and compelling of the next sip, this rarified illustration of Mosel Kabinett virtue will reward you over the next quarter century.
No restaurant with Korean influences would be without the Kimchee!
And this other spicy vegetable.
2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica. IWC 88. Pale yellow-straw. Sexy aromas of nectarine, ginger and nutmeg. Moderately sweet but not at all cloying, with nectarine, apple, pear and brown spice flavors complicated by a saline quality and perked up by white flowers and CO2. Not particularly gripping and very easy to drink. Finishes just off-dry, with a menthol nuance and a suggestion of crab apple that brought my score down.
2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis Fourchaume. Parker 90. Layers of dried pears, crushed flowers and licorice, all supported by fine, nuanced veins of minerality, emerge from the 2010 Chablis Fourchaume. This is a relatively approachable 2010 to drink over the next few years.
Fried duck. Really fried duck — but delicious, with a light “beer batter” style fry.
From my cellar: 1996 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Charmes Chambertin. Parker 92. This medium-to-dark ruby-colored wine has a fine nose of deeply ripe blackberry and cassis. On the palate, this well-concentrated, thick, complex, and harmonious wine is replete with loads of black cherries and spices. It has extremely ripe and supple tannins in its long finish.
Potstickers. These are typical Chinese dumplings, but with a particularly thick doughy shell. Maybe a little doughy for my taste.
The tasty spicy sauce for the dumplings.
And competing (not entirely successfully) with the grandeur of Burgundy is:
2009 Beaulieu Pinot Noir Reserve. Parker 89. The 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros is a bold, juicy wine bursting with candied red berries, flowers and mint. It comes across as fairly forward and quite fat. The 2009 is best suited to near-term drinking.
Walnut shrimp. With their light fluffy fry and a nice hint of mustard in the sauce these were some great walnut shrimp.
1988 D’Issan. Parker doesn’t like this wine, but it was a pleasant older Bordeaux.
Pork with quail egg. It doesn’t look like much but this was a great dish with soft pork and a nice flavor. The white balls are hard boiled quail eggs.
2007 Château Trocard. 88 points.
Spicy fried chicken. This is one of those dry Hunan/Szechuan style dishes.
2009 Jarvis Tomei Syrah Coloma “Meatgrinder”. 92 points. Cherry, cedar and floral notes on the nose. Very smooth and easy to drink, mouth-watering blackberry, violets, vanilla with a coffee finish.
Rice with eggplant and mushrooms. The consistency of the rice was very sticky, with a mellow comfort food vibe going on. Very pleasant.
2005 Mollydooker Enchanted Path. 93 points. Very surprised with how rich and pleasant this was, especially compared with my experience with Carnival of Love from the same vintage which runs toward heat and alcohol. In contrast, the enchanted path last night was showing a seamless combination of blue and red fruit and the creamy texturethat others have mentioned. Lovely stuff that could be appreciated by anyone who likes good wine.
Mountain potatoes and eggplant.
2000 Greenock Creek Shiraz Alices. Parker 90. Fashioned from low yields of 1.27 tons of fruit per acre, the 2000 Shiraz Alice’s is 100% Shiraz aged in American oak for 28 months prior to being bottled unfiltered. A strong effort for the vintage, it exhibits a deep ruby/purple color in addition to a sweet nose of blackberries, pepper, and licorice, medium body, and a fine finish.
Spicy pork. See those peppers? They are real Szechuan peppers and they left the mouth and face numb!
The pork was hiding underneath but was great — when the numbness allowed tasting it!
2003 Pax Cellars Syrah Lauterbach Hill. Parker 94. The 2003 Syrah Lauderbach Hill, from a vineyard farmed by Lee Martinelli, was cropped at two tons of fruit per acre, and spent time in 100% French oak, of which 40% was new. No shy Syrah at 15.9% alcohol, it exhibits great intensity as well as a tremendously sweet bouquet of crushed rocks, creme de cassis, blackberries, and flowers. A full-bodied, opulent, exotic effort, it should drink well for a decade or more.
Egg with tomatoes. Slightly sweet, a kind of Chinese omelet.
Overall, Yanbian was great fun, great food, and all of the above was $20 a person! Including tax and a 35% tip! Wow!
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