Review: Uncle Yip’s

It is so hard to find Chinese food in Cincinnati. Well,that’s not true. Americanized Chinese food is everywhere, but it’s hard to find anything that isn’t made for American palates.  King Wok in Clifton does a good job of this, but I wanted to try something a little closer to my office.  Brian, who introduced me to my now-favorite Wildflower, suggested Uncle Yip’s in Sharonville.

We went there for lunch a couple of weeks ago.  The place is unassuming– I think I drove past it twice– and the interior is unassuming as well.  Don’t let this fool you– the food is fantastic.  As we were there for lunch, I didn’t want to order too much, but they do offer dim sum daily at lunch.  I absolutely had to have some char siu bao.  If you’re not familiar, char siu bao is a puffy dumpling filled with barbecued pork and steamed.  They’re something that you can often find on the cheap chinese buffet bars, but they’re often awful.  These were great– with a rich, tangy, tamarind sauce coating tender pork, inside a soft dumpling.  They weren’t the prettiest dumplings (I’m used to the folded end being down), but don’t judge on looks– they were perfect.  Brian liked his too, and was kind enough to let me have two (since I was oohing and aahing so much over them).

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I had a hard time deciding on a lunch entree, but I did choose something off of the more “Americanized” menu: Mongolian beef. It came with a spring roll, which was average, and fried rice, which was also average. The entree itself, however, was very nice: a balanced brown sauce, lots of sauteed onions and peppers, and tender, slightly spicy beef. The portion was a lunch portion– huge!– I could have easily taken some home.

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Brian ordered his usual, Thai noodles. As I tend towards the not-so-spicy spectrum, I had a bite, and was pleasantly surprised that the sweet, dry noodles just have a pleasant kick. I think I would try these again as an entree of my own.

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I am definitely heading back to Uncle Yip’s– I really want to do the full dim sum experience, which I think would need to occur on a leisurely weekend, and not at lunch. Has anyone done dim sum there? How was your experience?

Uncle Yip's Seafood and Dim Sum on Urbanspoon

  • http://thesensitiveepicure.blogspot.com/ Erin Swing

    There’s always The China Gourmet in East Hyde Park on Erie Ave. Very upscale, yummy Chinese food. They are willing to make anything custom for you: as Chinese as you want, or not. They even have wheat-free tamari for us sensitive types.

    I have yet to try Uncle Yip’s. I want to, but eating gluten free Chinese can be very challenging.
    .-= Erin Swing´s last blog ..Battle Pineapple Gelato =-.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Yes! Completely forgot about them. I’ll need to head over there once I’m done with my world tour. :)

    • Aleks

      Are you serious? Please tell me what I am missing…. I have been there three times – each time more disappointed by the last but still see comments like this. So I must be missing something! Most recently I was shocked by a chow mein…with NO NOODLES!!!! Sorry to be a bubble burster – but I’d pick even PF Changs over China Gourmet. But I would echo the comments on Unlce Yips…. best in Cincinnati!

  • http://socialgumbo.com Loki

    I’ve been uniformly disappointed in the Asian food here so far. Every place I’ve tried, including King Wok, has been bland and substandard. Coming from New Orleans that says a lot, because except for our Viet Namese food our Chinese is considered substandard by people from the rest of the country.

    I would adore some more advice on decent Chinese, as I miss it terribly. It seems that there is nothing of quality that delivers in Northside. Help me Julie-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!

  • http://www.foodstuffsnati.blogspot.com/ Sara

    I took GetinMahBelly-Liz’s advice a few months back and went to Sichuan Bistro up in Mason. My god, it is delicious. They have Chinese and Chinese-American menus. I’ve so far only gotten items from the Chinese menu and really felt like I only struck out once (my fault much more than theirs, I think, for not understanding what I was ordering).

    I’m pretty sure delivery to Northside wouldn’t be an option, Loki – sorry! But I’ve found it to be so good, it’s well worth the drive from downtown. Their soft tofu with fish or beef is outstanding (and spicy – look out!), and my husband and I usually get a meat dish and a veg dish, and it’s ample to share (and then some). And their cold sichuan noodles are addictive.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Mayberry, Downtown =-.

  • CincyCapell

    China Gourmet isn’t what it used to be. The food has gone way downhill ever since Tenley got into bed with a shylock in order to finance his disastrously costly remodeling. And you had better be prepared to pay through the nose if you do eat there, because it is without question the most expensive Asian restaurant this side of Manhattan.

    • Beth

      Totally agree. I used to love China Gourmet and its old school fancy Chinese restaurant ambiance. And the family that ran it. I really dislike the remodel and the nouveau food (at least that’s what I had when I was there last). Sad to see something unique turn into something … just meh.

    • Portia

      A “Shylock”? What does that mean. . .? A Jew? A Jewish lawyer? It’s fine that you no longer care for the restaurant, but do you have to cast insults along with your opinion? I’m sure the quality of China Gourmet has nothing to do with the “Shylock” as you say.

  • http://socialgumbo.com Loki

    @Aleks I’d pick PF Chang’s over almost anything I’ve had since getting here a few months ago.

    @CincyCapell I’ve tried China Gourmet and it was like German gruel in flavor(i.e. none whatsoever).

    @Sara next time I’m in the vicinity I’ll give it a try. We don’t have a car so ranging afield for restaurants is usually done with friends, and a lot less frequently than I am used to. Thanks for the tip!

  • Janie

    China Gourmet used to be awesome! I used to eat there once a week. I went there a few months ago. I’ll never go back. Has anybody tried the restaurant where Jay’s on Madison used to be?

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      I guess you’ve made it once your family starts reading your blog. :) Oriental Wok’s Buttermilk Pike location is great– I haven’t tried the new location, but my guess is it’s just as good. I’ll report back.

  • CincyCapell

    Chinese Imperial Inn on Reading Road in Sharonville is outstanding. They serve very traditional Cantonese cuisine, and every time I go there I’m about the only non-Chinese customer in the place, which is always a good sign. Plus they serve real Dim Sum on Sundays!

  • anne

    hey julie, have you been to Sichuan Bistro here in Mason? it’s right off of Mason Montgomery in a strip mall where there’s a UDF, Jet’s Pizza and Quizno’s (corner of Socialville Foster). i like their food there a lot! definitely order from the chinese menu to fully enjoy it (don’t worry it’s in english!) getting a recommendation from the server is a start.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Oh! I know right where that is. I’ll try it sometime– want to go for lunch?

  • Sarah

    Janie, the restaurant at the former Jay’s site is an Oriental Wok, third location for the hospitable Wong family (the main restaurant is in Ft. Mitchell) who really know how to run a restaurant. I recommend it.

    I don’t know about China Gourmet’s past laurels, but when I ate there shortly after the renovation I ended up with a tiny portion of overpriced food that was nearly inedible due to the gristly, tough meat and overpowering, sickening flavor of Liquid Smoke. It was way worse than anything I’ve ever encountered at any cheap, hole-in-the-wall neighborhood strip center place. It astounds me they’re still open.

  • Greg Bennett

    I thought they were in Evendale; did they move?

  • http://socialgumbo.com Loki

    Keep going people, I’m making a list! So the $64,000 question is: Viet Namese food? (Please, oh please!)

  • CinciMyHome

    Oh, where do I start…I’m Cantonese, by the way.
    Uncle Yip’s has the best Chinatown style Cantonese food in town. Must, must try the lobster with ginger and green onion. Their weekend dimsum is good, too. It’s my family’s “hangout”.
    Grand Oriental in Mason has pretty good dimsum, too. There is a real Chinese menu for dinner, too, but not as exciting as Uncle Yip’s seafood selection.
    For a quick, simple Chinese meal, Yat Ka Mein in Hyde Park next to Aveda is authentic and delicious. They have the BEST Hong Kong style wonton noodle soup in town.
    Sichuan Bistro is very authentic and very spicy.
    King Wok in Clifton is great, too. The owners are from Malaysia, if you ask, you can get some dishes cooked Malaysian style.
    China Gourmet, Oriental Wok and PF Chang are all geared toward the American taste.
    And Loki:
    China Kitchen on Ludlow has a real Chinese menu under the glass on their tables. The Salted Duck is great. And their prices are very reasonable.
    The best and only Vietnamese in Cincinnati is in Roselawn at Song Long. But the better Vietnamese restaurant is in Louisville. There are at least 4 that I know of.

  • Mrs. Fessel

    We go there as a family on a regular basis for the dim sum. Can’t speak for any of the regular menu items, but the dim sum is as authentic as I’ll ever know. Any time you get shrimp with the head on, you know it’s the real deal. Try the rock salt shrimp. Not sure it’s actually on the menu, but ask for it. You won’t be disappointed.

  • anne

    yes let’s go for lunch there sometime! a couple people on my floor want to go too :o) group review!

    • http://californiatraveler.blogspot.com/ Suz

      Hey, Julie and Anne I’ll go to lunch too. I’m open to trying someplace other than Chan’s Asian Wok, aka “cheap Chinese.”
      .-= Suz´s last blog ..Help Keep California Parks Open =-.

  • http://willflyforfoodblog.com Christina Baita

    Thanks for the review. I had Dim Sum once in Cincinnati up in Mason Montgomery area years ago and it was great. Not even sure if the place is still there. It was in some shopping plaza and they pushed carts around with little dishes on them through out the room. For a long time I though that’s what Dim Sum was! As far as the pork dumplings, I have step-kids who are half Chinese and look forward to the holidays in their grandparents home. I sure hope they bring me some this year or I may just have to show up!
    .-= Christina Baita´s last blog ..Free Wireless Internet at Jacksonville International Airport =-.

  • http://www.cincinnatibites.com/ Cincinnati Bites

    Yat Ka Mein is probably my favorite all-around Chinese (love those Dan Dan Noodles!)

    King Wok serves my favorite Dim Sum (granted, there are few area dim sum outlets). They offer two menus, btw: An Americanized version and a Chinese version. Caucasians typically get the former.

    Yet another “1st Wok,” this one in Forest Park (next to the BMV), serves my favorite Ma Po Tofu.

    I’ve always been curious about The China Gourmet but we’re uncomfortable dining at “upscale” restaurants. :)
    .-= Cincinnati Bites´s last blog ..Restaurant Review: Kar-Ma Asian Bistro =-.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyesopenwide anne

    julie, suzanne,

    how about going next week sometime before thanksgiving?