There’s no debating that Westhill has changed dramatically over the years.
And with a variety of restaurants in the area opening and closing, one venue has stood the test of time, untouched by any downturn and still as good as ever.
Yan Oriental, which is on Ashvale Drive, specialises in Thai and Chinese cuisine, and was one of the first high-class restaurants to open in the area.
Having grown up just up the road, Yan has been somewhere many of my friends and family have dined.
Finding myself in my old stomping ground one weekend, I decided to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Walking into the restaurant which is one large room – with a private function room just off the back – the place looked exactly how it did all those years ago.
Our waiter, dressed partly in traditional costume, politely showed us to our table and took our coats.
Tucking into the complimentary prawn crackers which melted in our mouths, my sister and I browsed the menu, spying a number of dishes we were looking to sample, including the monkfish skewers starter.
It was busy, but manageable, and the waiting team seemed to work in sync with the bar and kitchen. Everything was running like a well-oiled machine.
Returning with our drinks, we placed our order – which didn’t include the monkfish due to it being sold out unfortunately – and continued to dive into the crackers.
Despite being so busy, it didn’t take too long for our starters to emerge from the kitchen. Our waiter placed them on the food warmer and we tucked in immediately.
Sharing, I had opted for the steamed fresh scallops and for my sister, a quarter aromatic duck.
The scallops were presented beautifully in their shells. Both were very large and cooked with ginger, spring onion and a touch of Thai wine.
Full of flavour and paddling in the wine sauce, the ginger and spring onion dominated the other ingredients. Cooked well, the scallops were large and the small pieces of chopped spring onion provided some much-needed texture to the dish. All the ingredients combined resulted in a euphoric compilation of Thai flavours.
The crispy aromatic duck came served with thin, soft pancakes, thinly sliced spring onion and cucumber, and a thick, rich aromatic hoi sin sauce. Marinated in spices, the crispy duck meat had been shredded into small pieces which made it easy to assemble the pancake rolls. I drenched the duck in the lip-smacking sauce and piled the meat and fresh raw vegetables, struggling to close it off.
There was plenty of duck and, if anything, a lack of pancakes to fit it all into. Nonetheless, we tucked into the leftover duck until it was finished.
Watching a sea of dishes surge out of the kitchen, it reminded us the idea of a banquet set menu had crossed our mind. However, we felt it was best left until returning with a bigger party.
Moving on to mains, we shared two dishes between us again.
The Yan special chicken was – as indicated in the name – pretty special. A tender fillet of chicken, the sauce it came in resulted in it claiming the title of best dish of the night.
The thickness of the coconut cream married with the spice of the chilli paste was the perfect balance. Add in some chunks of soft, well-cooked onion and it was a recipe for success.
Overflowing in the dish, there was plenty of the succulent chicken for us both to enjoy – as well as a mountain of green peppers, baby sweetcorn and carrots which were served slightly on the al dente side to give the dish some texture.
Incorporating more seafood into the meal, the king prawn satay dish was another stand out. Dressed with crushed peanuts which gave the dish a crunch, the satay sauce with chillis and green peppers hit the spot.
On the side we ordered a portion of Yan special noodles and crispy seaweed.
Imported from Asia, the seaweed – which was garnished with ground sea fish – didn’t look much, but the flavour which exploded in your mouth cemented the fact looks can certainly be deceiving. The cruncy seaweed melted on my tongue and paired well with the satay sauce. It brought saltiness to the experience which was much-needed after the sweeter, creamier dishes.
The noodles came tossed with cooked ham, tiny prawns and a selection of vegetables including beansprouts and fried onions.
They accompanied our meals well and were used to scoop up as much of the leftover sauces as possible.
Clearing our plates, the waiter offered a look at the dessert cart, however politely declined, having already had so much food to tuck into and enjoy so much.
Yan Oriental is, and has clearly been, a hit with the locals for years. Providing a venue they can frequent not only for a relaxing dine-in meal, but also to grab a takeaway, Yan caters to all.
The restaurant is busy for a reason and with lots of families and big groups in, it makes it the perfect place to catch up as well as celebrate important occasions.
What didn’t go unnoticed – along with the food – was of course the attentive, friendly staff and the presence of a kitchen that brings an authentic taste of the cuisine to the area.
One of the best Chinese meals I’ve had in a while, Yan’s special dishes should surely not disappoint.
Address: 4B Ashdale Drive, Westhill, Aberdeenshire
What we had:
- Steamed fresh scallop in shell
- Quarter crispy duck
- Crispy seaweed
- Yan special chicken
- King prawns satay
- Yan special noodles