Photograph by Jeremy Kramer
Meet Clarence Chan, tax advisor-cum-noodle maker, and owner of Yat Ka Mein—where the dining room is conspicuously empty while the telephone rings off the hook. Hungry callers keep hitting speed-dial in an attempt to order beef pepper ho fun: wide rice noodles stir fried in spicy black bean sauce with peppers, scallions, and tender beef strips, or the Cantonese pan fried egg noodles, fried crisp with a medley of carrots, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and a hint of soy sauce.
While Yat Ka Mein does a fine job with Japanese udon soup, pad Thai, and a variety of curry specials with plenty of pan-Asian panache, Chan’s heart and soul lies with regional dishes from his native Hong Kong. That’s the land of old-style Cantonese spice blends heavy on star anise and sauces such as oyster and lime suki, still new to the American palate. Hot pots and rickshaw noodles may not make their way into the average to-go bag, but he’s happy to whip them up for family and friends.
While awaiting your order, try pumping Chan for some insider tax advice. If he crunches (numbers) as well as he cooks, you could consider ordering take-out more often.
Yat Ka Mein, 2874 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 321-2028, yatkamein.biz, Lunch and dinner seven days