This week I was kindly invited to visit Newcastle’s latest independent Chinese restaurant, La Yuan. Usually, when I think of Chinese restaurants in Newcastle, I think low quality, all you can eat buffets, followed by a few hours of self-loathing after eating way too much. La Yuan couldn’t be further from this, focusing on quality, fresh ingredients.
The restaurant is located a 5-minute walk from The Gate, in Gallowgate, across the road from Sainsbury’s local. The front of the restaurant doesn’t jump out immediately and wouldn’t suffer for some extra signage. I do love the look, but it could go un-notices from a distance.
I only made a note of this as seriously, this is a restaurant you don’t want to miss!
Like the sleek exterior, the interior exudes style and class. The venue is divided into two similarly sized dining areas, the left side pictured below.
Stylish Dining area
In China, there are eight regional cuisines, each with their own style. La Yuan’s menu focuses on Sichuan cuisine, which dishes are primarily known for being hot and spicy.
For general interest, the other regional styles are below, taken from China Highlights:
- Sichuan and Hunan cuisines: hot spice.
- Anhui and Fujian cuisines: inclusion of wild foods from their mountains.
- Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu: great seafood, and generally sweet and light flavours.
- Shandong Cuisine: fresh and salty with a lot of seafood dishes.
The menu is somewhat limited, but that’s by no means a bad thing. La Yuan’s owner, Joshy, explained that he personally selected all of the dishes, with a total focus on the quality and freshness of the dishes.
There is a fully stocked bar, and alongside the drinks menu, you are also provided with a tea menu.
Given I visited La Yuan on a lunchtime, I opted to go straight for a main and give a starter a miss. While waiting for our food, I tried a cup of Hou Kui – Green Tea.
The tea is made with whole leaves and is some of the best I’ve had. It was so good it was quickly followed by a cup of Peach Oolong Tea which was also out of this world. I would 100% recommend trying some if you’re in for a meal and I’m already trying to find where to buy the mugs!
As for my main, I decided to try the Gung Bao Chicken, which is Chicken thigh with chayote and spring onion, stir-fried with sun-dried chilli and peanuts. Alongside this, I ordered seafood rice.
The Gung Bao Chicken was packed full of flavour, and the ingredients were extremely fresh. The crunch of the peanuts added a great texture to the dish with the chillis adding a mild heat.
As you can see in the picture, there were a lot of chillis, but rest assured, the dish wasn’t overly spicy, so I think following the heat code on the menu will be fine for anyone.
As you can see from the pics, the portion sizes are more than generous, filling me up no problem. Even the rice was a step above the usual. There were plenty of prawns and vegetables, and I believe fried in sesame seed oil. However it was prepared, the rice was a great side dish.
Overall La Yuan offers a stylish environment and quality dishes that I think any lover of Chinese cuisine will enjoy. The difference between their dishes and what takeaways and all you can eat restaurants offer in incomparable.
The prices are a little higher than other places, due to the fresh ingredients used, but that is by no means a bad thing to me. I’m already planning to visit again for a birthday meal.