Yuan, a new East Village restaurant specializing in Guilin-style rice noodle dishes, aspires to serve the “sophisticated Chinese food lover,” according to lettering on its glass storefront.
Currently in “soft launch,” the restaurant will officially open next Wednesday or Thursday, hot on the heels of 99 Favor Taste’s expansion to St. Marks Place.
Founder Jacob Ding described his vision for the restaurant as exposing New Yorkers to the 2,200-year-old Guilin culinary tradition of rice noodles. The noodles have a storied history in northeast China and are widely eaten across that country today, but they’re less known in New York, where Chinese restaurants are heavily dominated by Cantonese food.
According to lore, the rice noodle was first created during the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.), when soldiers from northern China were sent to pacify the southern regions. Wheat was unavailable to make noodles, so the soldiers learned to use rice instead. There are three or four restaurants in New York that do sell Guilin-style rice noodles, mainly in Flushing, said Ding, but he doesn’t think their recipes are up to snuff. So Ding, who previously worked in the finance and real estate world, decided to start his own restaurant.
The noodles at Yuan — which means “inception” — are hand-made daily and served with a special broth. The broth is cooked for eight hours, with a “secret sauce, like the Coke formula,” said Ding.
Yuan, 157 2nd Ave., near East 9th St., East Village; open for dinner and weekend brunch only. Monday to Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday 5 pm to midnight, Saturday 11 am to midnight, and Sunday 11 am to 10 pm.