by Lee Lawrence
From the October, 2019 issue
My experience with Asian food is not as extensive as I would like it to be. Throughout our long life together my husband, when asked his preference for dinner, has invariably shaken his head at suggestions of Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese. The thing is, if I bring some home without consulting him or insist that we try the new place on the corner, he likes it. And YP Sichuan, which opened last year in Ypsilanti, is not far from our house. So without announcing our destination, I recently took him there for a couple of lunches.
I wouldn't suggest that YP Sichuan offers exemplary renditions of that region's classic cooking. But when a name, playfully incorporates "YPSi" and a menu offers squirrel-shaped fish with two sauces, who can resist?
A fillet scored in cross-hatched fashion, dredged in rice flour, deep fried, and served with two sauces, one mildly spicy, the other sweet, it certainly resembled the bushy tail of a squirrel. And though it tasted more of fried than fish, it was great fun to eat. We could break off bits with our fingers, drag them through the sauces, and pop them in our mouths, interspersing the fish with slippery bites of gingery Chinese choy sum. (At least I think that was the green; I never did get a clear English name.)
We also picked an item from the column labeled "griddle cooking," though neither the staff nor Google could explain how griddling differed from stir-frying. After trying the rabbit version (the small animal motif continues!), I wondered if it might just be the amount of sauce--more than a stir-fry, less than a soupy hot pot, another Sichuan specialty. In any case, YP's version bound together small chunks of tough meat booby-trapped with plenty of fragile bones, onions, and scallions in a dark, intense sauce deeply flavored with Sichuan peppercorns, the "numbing" spice for which the province is famous--an interesting dish, though likely not for everyone.
I wasn't crazy
about the dandan noodles--the flavor was one-note, the noodles mushy--but I did love the spicy cucumber salad, and my husband was pleased with his tasty, generous, if prosaic, stir-fried shrimp with ginger and scallion.
And tasty, if prosaic, is just fine when you live in a no-delivery zone and it's just ten minutes from your house. Besides, they have Yibin-style spicy noodles, and salt merchant's chicken, and fish and lamb soup (what a combo!), and spicy cumin lamb, and acid beans with ground meat (what can that be??), and pine-nut corn, and griddle-cooked water flower, and--well, I'm bound to find some more winners that'll convince my husband that we have to eat Asian food more often.
301 E. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
Mon, Wed, Thurs. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Tues.
Small dishes $1.39-$8.99, entrees $7.99-$29.99
[Originally published in October, 2019.]
On October 23, 2019, Rodger wrote:
I too was excited to try Sichuan food (one of my favorites) at Ypsi Sichuan. I ordered Sichuan Tofu. Actually it ended up being the worst Chinese dish I've ever eaten: tasteless and not even spicy. Still I wish the owners success with their new restaurant but it'll take a super offer to get me to try again.
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