An unusual name and an intriguing sense of design lured me into YX Taste.
The interior décor, and old-world natural stone façade, are the work of GC Studio. The meaning of the restaurant's Chinese name is fragrant little dish.
Inside, the tables are arranged in two columns, with a sense of intimacy created by curved, woven bamboo partitions that neatly cleave the space in two.
Along with the timber-rich walls and low-hanging woven bamboo ceiling, the screens help to wall off city noise, and transport you into a Sichuan country yard.
From our second tier table, the screen's tiny holes give little glimpses of motion in the glass-fronted kitchen. Wearing hairnets and navy blue uniforms, the all-female kitchen team are enveloped in clouds of steam as they prepare fragrant Sichuan soups. We select two bowls of soup from the two-sided menu, which thankfully boasts both pictures and short English dish titles.
The other side of the menu card is full of the fragrant little dishes from which the restaurant takes its name. Our smiling, friendly waitress tactfully suggests that Western diners often prefer dumplings to the Cold Beef ($9.80) we have ordered. We persist anyway, and make our way through about half the plate of chewy semi-dried beef coated in a slick of numbing Sichuan chilli oil, sweet corn kernels and toasted sesame seeds, before our laboured mastication makes us admit she might have been right.
Easier to devour are Special Potatoes ($6.80) - ordinary crinkle cut chips turned into something more exciting by being tossed in an evil-looking red blend of Sichuan herbs and spices. We found them quite compelling, though we'd already tried a similar dish at our Yunanese favourite, Two Sticks, so were old hands at surfing the tongue-numbing effect.
Before we have a chance to really get stuck into them, our soups arrive. Hot & Sour Duck Vermicelli ($13.80) avoids the aggressively sour trap of Isaan-style Thai soups like tom saep. The gentle broth is filled with slippery transparent rice noodles, fresh and sour pickled greens, and a generous amount of pale duck slices, some containing bones.
The thicker rice noodles in the Spicy Hot Chicken with Rice Noodles ($14.80) are tastier, less slippery, and thus more my speed, though I prefer the duck soup’s broth.
Even the spicy soup is not ballistically hot, so if you want to meddle in heat, tanginess and complexity, you'll find jars of soy, vinegar and fermented chilli on every table.
余香小吃 YX Taste
Shop 5, 614 George Street, Sydney
Ph: none provided