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East West Lifestyle

Hang & Eat: Yang's Braised Chicken Rice, One Dish to Serve Them All

January 30, 2020
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice

How the one-dish Chinese fast-food chain has swept the world with its braised chicken rice.

When a restaurant only makes one dish, you know it has to be good. Huang men ji is a braised chicken stew. The traditional savory broth is a delicacy found in the northeastern province of Shandong, China. Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice serves their unique version of the traditional huang men ji dish in only three ways: mild, medium and spicy.

Yang’s founder, Xiaolu Yang, uses his grandmother’s signature braised chicken stew for his restaurants. The secret sauce is made in China and imported to the U.S. specifically for his restaurants. Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice, which opened in 2011, now boasts more than 6,000 locations all over China, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the United States.

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice dish on a tray
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a one-dish restaurant

“There are currently eight restaurants in California,” said California store owner Max Huang. “Our first expansion to California was in the city of Tustin. We also have locations in Rowland Heights and San Gabriel, which makes it very convenient. Our Buena Park location also just opened. We plan on opening 20-plus additional stores this coming year just in California alone.”

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice uses local, boneless chicken thighs that are slowly braised in their sizzling clay pots. The chicken is marinated in Yang’s grandmother’s secret sauce and is then partially cooked in a high-pressure cooker. Each order of chicken stew rice uses an entire pound of chicken thigh meat. The pressure-cooking method ensures that each bite of chicken is flavorful, tender and juicy.

The chicken is first simmered in a clay pot. The chef then adds in freshly cut shiitake mushrooms, serrano peppers and chunks of ginger. The fermented bean paste helps create the gravy-like sauce. If the customer orders any spice in their chicken dish, then peppers and red chilies are added into the mix. Nothing is pre-made. The cooking process does not start until the diner places their order, and no MSG is ever used.

Unlike the traditional way of eating huang men ji in Shandong, Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice serves their dish with a bowl of white rice on the side. Yang’s staff recommends mixing the white rice into the hot clay pot for the best flavor.

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice
Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice dish comes in three flavors: mild, medium and spicy

“Although the traditional way of eating braised chicken stew is by itself, at Yang’s, we have put our own spin on the dish,” said Huang.

Each order of braised chicken rice is made to order and affordable. For $9.99, a piping-hot clay pot dish comes out. Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is all about simplicity and efficiency. The decor is plain, which is a large part of its appeal. The concept is perfect for people who have trouble making up their mind. The only decision diners have to make is how spicy they want their braised chicken stew rice. It’s also a good dish for when it’s cold outside and is considered a comfort food by many.

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice has also partnered with Chatime to offer boba tea drinks at their stores. They have a simple drink menu of Boba Milk Tea, Black Tea, Jasmine Green Tea and fountain drinks. The staff arrives two hours prior to opening time to begin cooking boba and start cutting vegetables and other ingredients.

Hang & Eat with our food blogger Kristie Hang as she explores the latest East West food trends.