Four hounds met up at Yum Yum, a little neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Somerville, last night to check out the menu, especially the Sichuan specialties. This is a small, simple place with a fairly short menu that sticks to the Sichuan classics (plus, of course, General Gao, moo shu, et al.). We tried:
Cold Noodles in Chilly Garlic Sauce: The biggest hit. Very thin noodles in a chile (roasted red pepper flakes and Sichuan pepper) vinaigrette with a little sweetness to it. Nice bite to the noodles.
Dan Dan Noodles: Hot noodles in a chile vinaigrette, similar to the cold ones, less sweet, with pork bits. A bit of peanut but that was far from a dominant flavor. I think the consensus ranked them slightly lower than the cold ones; I like both about equally. Very good.
From the Szechuan Style Salad menu, Chicken with Home-Made Szechuan Sesame Chilly Sauce: cold bone-in chicken in a frankly spicy, Sichuan pepper-numbing chili vinaigrette with cilantro and chopped toasted soybeans. The chicken was a bit overcooked so the texture could have been better. A one-time fault, possibly. Flavor was very good, we all kept nibbling at it.
Dry Sauteed String Beans: Very good rendition of the vegetarian version. They take the time to do it rightno deep frying, no liquid. Deep fresh string-bean flavor pointed up with a little spicy tartness from pickles. Recommended. (A personal fave; Ive eaten a whole platter of these at one sitting.)
Hong Shao Pork: Mmm, pig fat. Cubes of pork belly braised w/soy sauce, star anise, a little red chile heat. Rich, slightly sweet, good stuff.
From the Chinese-only chalkboard, a tofu dish whose name escapes me (Limster says its named for a famous classical beauty). Ask for the tofu with shrimp and crab. Or maybe dont. Cubes of fresh soft tofu with baby shrimp and fake crab, scallions, in a light sauce. It was okay but nothing special.
All in all a good experience. Based on what Ive eaten Id rank it a bit behind Zoes and Sichuan Garden, but Im looking forward to trying more of the menu. Wonderful to have such choices in the neighborhood!
More info: Stuff on the chalkboard that isnt on the menu (trusting to memory here): dry-fried pork strips, yu shiang pork dang, there was something else that sounded good but I cant remember now.
Dishes Ive tried on previous visits: I posted on the cold roast beef and tendon dish, which is very similar to the cold chicken and, I think, a little better. Shredded Fresh Chilly Pepper w/Chicken was a fine stir-fry of slightly hot green chiles, onion and other vegetables with dark meat chicken (which I prefer), given some extra spark with red pepper flakes. Ants on a Tree was dull; Hot and Sour Soup fairly sour but not very hot (and the heat came from red chili flakes, tsk tsk).
The staff are very friendly but not accustomed to non-Chinese who stray from the Americanized standards. In my experience the language barrier can be greater than youd think. A shy young lunchtime waitress was just lost.
1295 Broadway, Somerville (between Teele Sq. and Rte. 16; an easy walk from Davis)
M-Th: 11:30-10:00; F-Sun: 11:30-11:00
Free delivery in limited area, $15 minimum.