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Review: YAO NYC is a modern Cantonese restaurant in Manhattan

YAO NYC is a new modern Cantonese restaurant in the Financial District of Manhattan.

Yao NYC
Dishes at YAO NYC. Photo Courtesy of YAO
Dishes at YAO NYC. Photo Courtesy of YAO

YAO NYC is a new modern Cantonese restaurant in the Financial District of Manhattan.

This journalist had the chance to review YAO on Saturday, March 2nd for lunch on a rainy day.

Kenny Leung serves as the executive chef of YAO with Thomas Tang as co-founder and partner.

In the Chinese language “Jia Yan,” translates to a “family banquet.”

YAO NYC
YAO NYC. Photo Courtesy of YAO

Appetizers

For appetizers, one ought to try their “Fried Calamari,” which was crispy accompanied with green and red peppers on the side. This dish is a must for seafood fans.

Fried Calamari at YAO
Fried Calamari at YAO. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Their “Dim Sum” platter was very colorful, appetizing, and highly eclectic.

Dim Sum Platter at YAO
Dim Sum Platter at YAO. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Their “Roasted Duck with Dried Plum Sauce” was succulent and it went well with a side of Jasmine rice.

Roasted Duck with Dried Plum Sauce
Roasted Duck with Dried Plum Sauce. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

An added treat was their Chili oil, which was spicy and infused with seafood. It went well with every dish due to its pungent nature.

Chili oil at YAO
Chili oil at YAO. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Vegetables

A solid vegetable option is their “Chinese cauliflower with preserved meats.” It is the quintessential balance of healthy, salty, marinated, and spicy.

Chinese Cauliflower with Preserved Meat
Chinese Cauliflower with Preserved Meat. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Chicken

As a main course and for people that enjoy poultry, they should try YAO’s “House Signature Free-Range Chicken,” which is topped with scallions, nicely marinated, and mildly spicy.

House Signature Free-Range Chicken
House Signature Free-Range Chicken. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Noodles and Rice

Patrons that like noodles and rice in general should give YAO’s “Fried Rice with Diced Angus Short Rib” more than just a passing glance. It is freshly seasoned and savory.

Fried Rice with Diced Angus Short Rib
Fried Rice with Diced Angus Short Rib. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Desserts

While dining at any restaurant in New York City, one should make room for dessert.

Custard Pastry in a Swan Shape
Custard Pastry in a Swan Shape. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

Their “Custard Pastry in a Swan Shape” was a true work of pastry art in the areas of taste, creativity, and presentation.

Durian Puff Pastry at YAO.
Durian Puff Pastry at YAO. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

While their “Durian Puff Pastry” was mediocre at best (due to its slightly bitter taste), their “Pumpkin Cake” was scrumptious and more than made up for it.

Speaking of the pumpkin cake, it melted in your mouth and since its presentation depicted actual pumpkins, it made one feel as if it were Halloween or Thanksgiving all over again.

Pumpkin Cake at YAO
Pumpkin Cake at YAO. Photo Credit: Markos Papadatos

“The food at YAO was delicious,” patron Dar Dowling said. “The atmosphere is Zen and beautiful. Everything here was divine.”

Conclusion

Overall, YAO NYC is a pleasant new eatery in Manhattan, which offers modern Cantonese dishes.

YAO is a neat way to explore the different flavors, tastes, ingredients, and seasonings of the contemporary Cantonese cuisine and culture in an ambient setting.

Their goal is to not only provide a culinary experience for patrons, but also a time to foster bonding with family and friends. It is safe to say that the staff and owners of YAO are achieving this objective.

While it is modern, it also stays true to its traditional roots. The service was swift, and the wait staff was courteous and attentive.

It is recommended that one pays YAO NYC a visit next time they are in the Financial District of the Big Apple. They will not be disappointed. YAO NYC garners 4.5 out of 5 stars.

For more information on YAO NYC, check out its official homepage, and follow the eatery on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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