Downstairs at Yip’s is Just Round 1
Yips could be a Manhattan restaurant empire, or “yip” could just be a Chinese word for restaurant. I am absolutely clueless. Either way, there are a lot of them. There’s the Yips that Zach wrote about in Midtown (plus Ho Yip), and The Google has listings for three Yip’s downtown as well a Yip’s Dragon Style Kung Fu on the Lower East Side. So while there’s nothing apparently “Dragon Style” about the Yip’s Restaurant on Beaver St. between Broadway and Broad, its sprawling pay-by-the-pound buffet is chock full of ways for cheap Chinese addicts to get their fix.
Now that we’re past the jump, I can confess to my slight Luncher gaffe: I had been to Yip’s before and eaten from a “Chinatown-style” menu served by staff from behind a counter. Imagine my surprise when I returned and found this counter had vanished. It wasn’t until I’d feasted from the buffet that I realized that this counter was just upstairs, accessible from a different entrance on New St. Whoops. I guess I’ll have to go back again to give you the skinny on that.
Until then, buffets are lunches too and this one is better than average. Now, keep in mind that “average” for a Chinese buffet is “just about edible,” so I’m not giving Yip’s high praise by any measure, but if you plan your choices wisely you can escape with a pretty good lunch.
Seeing as this was my first visit to the buffet, I went with a “feeler plate” and managed to try seven main dishes plus lo mein and pork fried rice. The starches were very standard but also good, especially the lo mein, which had a generous amount of vegetables and that great sesame oil taste. Of the seven, I had one mediocre entree and one very bad, but everything else I ate was quite tasty. And at a reasonable $5.39 per pound, this smorgasbord only set me back about $7.
A pictorial review, in ascending order of overall goodness
7. BBQ Pork — Gross. Really gross. And I don’t think it can be blamed on too much time on the buffet. Something is wrong with this sauce, and until I see a big sign that says they’ve switched recipes, I’m staying away.
6. General Tso’s Chicken — This one I do think is partially the buffet’s fault as the biggest problem with the dish was that the breading was totally sodden. But the sauce was also a sub-par GT, and I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur. Pass.
5. Chinese Spinach — The order for items 3, 4, and 5 is pretty arbitrary as all three were pretty good. This greens were well cooked and not too soggy or greasy. My only complaint was that it was a bit bland, so a little more oyster sauce and this one would definitely move up the list. It was the only green thing I put on my plate, but there were other veggies as well that I bet were good.
4. Chicken Chow Fun — What can I say? It was Chow Fun: Chicken + Noodles + Sprouts + Soy Sauce = Success. This rendition passed my three chow fun tests: the meat in it was good, the noodles were not gummy, and the sprouts were still crunchy.
3. Pork Dumplings — Very standard dough-meat combo here, but these get a high rating because the meat was surprisingly well spiced. Nearly every buffet pot sticker I’ve ever had could have come from the same frozen foods supplier, but these are a notch — if only a small one — above the rest.
2. Fried Chicken Wings — Another surprise here. I expected soggy and gristly, but they were neither. There was a lot of good meat on the bones and the breading was crunchy and flavorful with the vinegary tang that makes Chinese wings so tasty. Definitely on the greasy side — they would make very short work of a paper bag — but are you worrying about that when you’re eating chicken wings off of a basement buffet? Thought not…
1. BBQ Chicken — The clear winner. I had tried the BBQ pork first and so was terrified when I got to this that it might have the same execrable sauce. Not by a long shot. Sweet, spicy, not too soggy. Perfect with the lo mein. My three favorite letters are redeemed.
Yip’s isn’t breaking any new ground here, just serving up decent food and lots of it. There was much more to try here, including some more authentic Chinese dishes, but I’m going to go back to try the upstairs for that. There was also an American section with salad and fruit and pasta but most people just eyed it suspiciously as they loaded up on the Chinese options.
Yip’s is perfect for a rainy day when you want a greasy indulgence that will remind you of those pretty alright Chinese buffets of your youth. It gets the job done, and, come to think of it, maybe that is Dragon Style…
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- A lot of choices, even by buffet standards.
- Some fruit and American options to mix it up.
- Certain items, like BBQ chicken and the chicken wings, are solidly above average.
- Sure it’s not pay-by-the-pound, but when the pound price is $5.39
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- How can you ever eat here when Chinatown is 10 minutes away?
- Pick the wrong dish — BBQ pork anyone? — and you will not be a happy camper.
- Fruit and American options have no business on a Chinese buffet and discredit the entire enterprise.
- I require at least 3 pounds of Chinese food to sate me, and that puts Yip’s way out of my price range.
Yip’s Restaurant, 18 Beaver St. (btw. Broadway and Broad St.)