Friday Food Porn: The Secrets of Yea's Wok

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Close your eyes and think about the first time you ate Chinese food. Try to envision the place, the menu, the smell, and the alien feel of the words in your mouth as you first said lo mein and moo shu and wonton."

From this week's review of Yea's Wok in Newcastle.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"I have spent the balance of my life chasing that first powerful charge of weirdness and excitement that came from my first trip to Ng's. Like a coke fiend always running after the sweet jolt of that first, best high, I have dedicated years and considerable fortunes to hunting that same thrill. I have insinuated myself into Chinese New Year parties to eat cold jellyfish and fried pig's ear, sat in huge groups at loud dim sum restaurants shouting for the cart ladies to bring the taro cakes and sticky rice, and have lifted bowls of shark fin soup to my lips to see what all the fuss is about (I still don't get it). I've eaten unidentifiable bits of grilled chicken in basement bars and chased chefs from town to town just to eat their duck.

But the best, most dependable way to find that pure kick of novelty is the quote/unquote secret menu--the ones written in some native language which hostesses keep tucked behind counters, the Chinese menus full of Chinese flavors and Chinese favorites handed down only to Chinese guests.

Yea's Wok in Newcastle has one of those menus."

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Sitting there, I thought about playing the frustrated gourmand's version of "Hey, buddy"--leaning over to the tables around me and asking "Hey, buddy, what's that you're eating?" But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I ate at Yea's four or five times, hoping I would find some solution to my own personal omnivore's dilemma: I wanted to eat everything, but simply did not have the words to speak my desires.

Until last week."

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"First time through, I ordered off the American menu: barbecued pork and pot stickers, chicken chow mein (the noodles soft and twirled like a nest), and teriyaki beef of which I expected little but was pleasantly surprised. The kitchen had made a bowl of foil and dumped into it big, tender chunks of beef, slathered in a pleasantly complex, sweet-hot, and savory sauce rich with sugar, red chili flakes, and sesame seeds. It was all perfectly decent American-Chinese food, with the beef being addictively good.

Back at home, I restrained myself from licking the foil, but just barely. And sitting on the couch, I reached into my pocket for the Chinese menu that I'd lifted from behind the counter when the hostess' attention was elsewhere."

For more pretty pictures, check out the full Yea's Wok slideshow right here. And for more pretty words, the review can be found here.

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