While on the prowl for something different in the Providence area (let’s be honest, while there are many fantastic eateries, it can get a little stale eating at the same places over and over), my friend and I stumbled upon Yaki Mani. The menu looked familiar and promising because we both love sushi and ramen. I’m usually wary of Asian restaurants that have a full menu and offer sushi because it can indicate a lack of focus. Nonetheless, we were both thrilled to have tried Yaki Mani.
188 Taunton Ave.
East Providence, RI 02914
Service and Atmosphere
The restaurant is small, warm, and inviting with some modern touches. The owners and chefs are congenial, funny, and entertaining despite a small language barrier. It’s BYOB (bring your own booze), which is great for those looking to drink what they want as an accompaniment to the meal.
Everything we ate was pretty excellent and different in a good way. The style of the food is Japanese, but the influences seem to be Chinese. We tried the pan fried dumplings, some sushi, and a bowl of beef soup. I’ve had similar food before, but nothing exactly the same, so we enjoyed trying something actually new.
Chicken and Corn Fried Dumplings – Our server was also our chef who recommended the chicken and corn dumplings. They arrived and their somewhat irregular shape indicated that these were indeed house made as advertised, which caused me to breathe a sigh of relief. So often we are faced with previously frozen dumplings that are passed off as fresh or homemade. The chicken and corn filling of these dumplings was really delicious with the sweetness of the corn really accentuating the chicken.
Sushi – I can’t say the sushi is the best I’ve had or even in the upper levels of quality, but it was very tasty. The reason that the sushi worked is that it had a homemade flavor to it (in a good way) where the vinegar in the rice was slightly stronger than in most sushi rolls. That can happen to home chefs when making sushi rice. I would definitely have sushi here again though because the fillings were tasty and there was something comforting about the style.
Zhou Beef Noodle Soup – Listed on the menu as ramen, this soup is really more of a hybrid. It has a Chinese name and tastes like a mix between Japanese ramen and Vietnamese pho. The noodles are of a Japanese style, the broth has notes of typical pho aromatics (like star anise), and the beef is like that of a Chinese soup. When the bowl comes out, it isn’t very impressive at all. It looks like a bowl of clear broth with a bunch of noodles, very little beef, a few slices of white radish, cilantro, and scallions. Despite the simple presentation, the soup is actually very nice. The broth is light and delicate while full of flavor and the noodles are very filling. I would recommend ordering the “Extra Beef” version since so little actually comes with the regular one.
Yaki Mani is a wonderful little restaurant with a unique style of Japanese food that is made in a Chinese style. That sounds very contradictory, but it works very well. I’d recommend Yaki Mani for anyone tired of the same old eateries or for someone looking to try a unique take on traditional Asian cuisine.
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