At one end of the American-Chinese-food spectrum is the takeout counter, an overlighted place with an overhead pictogram menu. You call in your order, and it's ready before you hang up the phone. At the other end is the full-service restaurant: dynastic and ornate, where the menu has a silk ribbon and the food tastes straight from the Silk Road.
In between and toward the fast-food end is Yum Yum Good, a tidy, condensed plaza restaurant in Post Office Square near the corner of Libbie and Patterson, where simplicity reigns along with speedy service and pink-pearl decor.
Yum Yum Good is a nine-year veteran of Richmond dining and a place as popular with West End soccer moms as with the horde of students from neighboring Community High School, seeking refuge from the tyranny of the lunchroom nutritionist. At night, brown takeout bags clutter the register beside the line of people waiting for tables.
[image-1](Stacy Warner / richmond.com) The lunch menu is a 37-item brief culled from the full 65-item dinner menu, which features Hunan, Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine. In general, Szechuan and Hunan, landlocked, mountainous provinces to China's west, are known for their use of meat and hot peppers. Canton (Guangdong), along the South China Sea, is known for its seafood. But these are not hard and fast rules, and distinguishing between these types of cooking is nearly impossible.
It's also unimportant, since most Yum Yum dishes are familiar and fall easily under the banner of unified Asian cuisine: moo goo gai pan, sesame chicken, mu shu pork, green pepper steak with onions, and the usual assortment of lo meins, soups and fried rice.
One soup in particular stands out from the high-gloss, cornstarch crowd: subgum won ton. Subgum is Chinese for "everything," and this soup has it all in a double portion with fresh, crisp broccoli, celery, carrots, snow peas, baby corn and four enormous won tons. Substantial enough to be a main course, subgum is as light as a spring rain.
The most interesting items on the menu are the Szechuan and Hunan dishes (usually the ones marked as hot and spicy), which offer piquant nuances of flavor and texture: Crispy beef with orange sauce, chicken with orange peels, and eggplant in garlic sauce are three standouts.
[image-2](Stacy Warner / richmond.com) At lunch, our Hunan beef ($5.55), and "Double Happiness," a Chinese surf and turf of scallops and flank steak ($6.55), needed more fire, though, and were oversauced. But the fried rice was delicious and came from a well-seasoned wok.
The best dinner entrees are the house specialties, especially lamb with sa cha sauce ($9.55), an imported Chinese barbecue sauce made with dried shrimp and chili peppers; and shrimp velvet ($11.25), plump sautéed shrimp with vegetables and an egg-white sauce.
The fried noodles and tea are great, and the simplicity of good food served in a clean, well-lighted place by polite, welcoming people is a pleasant experience again and
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