by Alice Levitt
88 Heineberg Drive, Colchester, 802-860-2828
When Yummy Chinese Restaurant opened in the former Ming's space in Colchester, I doubt if even the owners thought they'd be getting five-star reviews. Somehow, though the tiny eatery has wound up on the 7 Nights website's highest-rated list. I had to see what the hype was about.
There are a few tables at Yummy, but take-out is clearly their bread and butter. A delivery driver was in and out with his insulated pack throughout our meal, as were customers picking up their own food.
We ordered at the counter, referring to a paper menu. It was large, but with the exception of a few Thai dishes, little jumped out as unique. Under the "chou mein or chop suey" section of the menu, there were dishes called Chicago chicken, pork, beef and shrimp and an appetizer called "house tid bits," but the quirks didn't go much further.
I was excited to see a small selection of steamed buns, but the lady at the counter let me know that they were purchased in Montréal. When I asked at which bakery, her English failed her. I tried a couple anyway.
After warming up with a free pot of aromatic and astringent jasmine tea, I dug into a pork bun. It was somewhat light on the filling, especially in proportion to the bland dough. I have a list of Chinatown bakeries I'd like to recommend with far better specimens. The delicate custard buns were a bit better, five smooth little balls with a slightly citrus-flavored filling.
I was curious to try the chicken with curry sauce (right). I'm a sucker for curry, especially when it's on something fried, which I assumed this was. How wrong I was.
The light dish was composed of thin slices of steamed chicken, green peppers and onions. Isn't it pretty?
The sauce was far from the watered-down, nearly limpid curries I'm used to seeing at Chinese restaurants. This packed big, satisfying flavor and a hint of spice. The vegetables were clearly fresh. The pepper in particular sang in beautiful harmony with the curry. The portion was huge, too. I'm going to get three meals from my single order.
You may have noticed the take-out box in the background of this photo. That's not a mistake — it's how my rice came to the table. I ended up spooning little bits onto the plate to soak up the lovely sauce, but the presentation was a little odd.
Pad Thai from the small Thai menu was also better than expected. Though it was designated on the menu as a hot dish, chili pepper illustration and all, it was not dissimilar to the version at Tiny Thai. The major differences were a smattering of chili flakes, a stronger hint of lime and more of that pungent Asian aroma that one of my friends simply calls "sweaty balls." Say what you will about me, but I liked it.
Was it a five-star meal? No way. It was Chinese take-out. Maybe I was remiss in not ordering General Tso's or sweet and sour chicken, but I don't like either of those dishes. Don't get me wrong, my food was good, but if I'm looking for Chinese, I'll choose Zen Gardens over Yummy any day.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.