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The Beach Gourmet: Yangtze Restaurant: A River Runs Through It

The Yangtze River in China is the longest river in Asia, and at almost 4,000 miles long, the third largest in the world. Those 4,000 miles take this river through a variety of locales, and like the river, Yangtze restaurant on the Third Street Promenade offers a variety of Asian- inspired choices from a menu that displays a culinary landscape consisting of Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese offerings.

I recently visited the Yangtze (restaurant) with a guest and experienced a tasty, unhurried, and satiating weekend lunch that showed that a jack-of-all-trades could also be a masterful artisan to boot.

The ambience of Yangtze is clean and bright, with a small Promenade patio and a spacious main room with good views of the open kitchen. For sushi lovers, there is a cozy and authentic bar at the back of the restaurant offering a good selection that includes many staples ranging from albacore (sushi $4.95, sashimi $9), striped bass (sushi $4, sashimi $8), mackerel (sushi $3.75, sashimi $9) and a choice of hand rolls and cut rolls that average around $5 apiece.

Feeling slightly more peckish than usual, we decided to include a starter and opted to share that ever-popular Chinese standard, the Vegetable Egg Rolls ($3.25 for two). These were served quick, hot, and free of excess grease, and with the sweet and sour sauce and a drop of soy sauce, they hit the spot rather well.

As mentioned, the menu boasts a list that covers many Asian regions, and the Chinese selection alone covers specialties from six provinces: Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiantsui, Anhui, and Jainasu. It includes, in addition to well-known dishes like Kung Pau (traditional Chinese stir fry of marinated chicken, bell peppers, and peanuts in a spicy red chili sauce, $8.25, or a dollar more for shrimp instead of chicken) from Sichuan, Jinshi Peppers (a combination of red and green peppers sautéed in a garlic black bean sauce with chicken, beef, or pork, $8.25) from Hunan, and Chicken Nanjing (sliced chicken breast dipped in a light batter and served with a lemon sauce, $8.50), a curiously named Chow Fun, described as “rice noodle and Chinese broccoli stir fry in an authentic brown velvet sauce with chicken, beef, or pork,” for $8.25, or with shrimp for $9.25.

Although the aforementioned Chinese dishes sounded tempting, we decided to take a taste from Thailand, with the Bangkok Inferno (a spicy combination of red bell peppers, onion, chili, basil, and garlic with chicken, $8.50), and from Japan we chose that reliable yardstick of non-sushi dishes, the Chicken Teriyaki (grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce, $9), both accompanied with brown rice ($1 per serving).

Kitchen-to-table time at Yangtze was a respectable 10-15 minutes, and upon arrival the dishes were shiny and well presented, with more than adequate portion sizes.

The teriyaki was well-seasoned with a rich sauce that left no doubt as to its flavor; if anything it was slightly too dominant, and somewhat overpowered the chicken. This was a shame as the meat was well prepared and tasty.

The Bangkok Inferno was altogether a delight. Crisp bell peppers, a delightfully well- balanced sauce that had the flavors of the basil and garlic enhanced by the chili rather than being smothered, and some choice pieces of deliciously prepared chicken. Served with brown rice, these dishes were overall more than satisfactory.

We enjoyed our visit to Yangtze restaurant, and the next time I go, I intend to visit the dimly lit sushi bar secreted at the back of the restaurant that, had I not performed my usual hand- washing ritual in the bathroom, I would have remained completely in the dark about.

1333 Third Street Promenade

310.260.1994.

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