2 Yummy Restaurant in Belconnen. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Naming a restaurant must be such a bugger of a job. There are lots of examples of names that get lost in translation, like Hung Far Low in Oregon, or Crapitto's Cucina Italiana in Texas.
If you're set up, say, with a nice view, it's easy, like Wateryview or Outlook. But how do you sum up your plans in a name? Some of the great names in dining are mostly quite esoteric, the Fat Duck, the French Laundry, Momofuku (happy peach) all have had simple beginnings and surely the name wasn't chosen to be on the tips of every food lover, reality show contestant or cook.
I'm thinking this as I wait for dinner at a simple Asian barbecue noodle joint on the Lake Ginninderra foreshore. It would be hilarious if this modest place gained worldwide notoriety. Matt Preston, with that plummy voice, announces tonight's guest chef from, wait for it, 2 yummy in Canberra.
This scenario is unlikely but anything is possible in this crazy world. Do I have to remind you about Bob Katter? I like this place though, it's handy, lightening quick and cheap as chips, unless of course if the chips are made at the Fat Duck.
The glaring sign out the front of the shop front isn't the most discreet signage. Inside, it's tiny, about 10 tables all in bright red and white, down past the busy takeaway bench under the doleful stare of inverted and dripping Peking ducks, a specialty here, along with suckling pig.
It's always intrigued me this menu item, like how good would it be to rock up with a group and have that as an after-work chow down?
A softdrink fridge, quite prominent, starts and completes the beverage service section. Menus are what you expect, busy, wide ranging, covering all bases. It's like you have to have every possible combination perchance someone wants pork mi goreng and all they have is chicken, but all par for the course in Asian dining land. I'll always head to an area of a menu that promises house, chefs or regional specialties, most likely all three. It's here you'll generally find what the place is about, why they came to this part of Canberra, why they chose to call themselves 2 yummy. Which is a big call - not just yummy, but too much so.
They do a fair old job at the sang choy bow and likewise the duck pancake, which is rightly pretty hard to muck up. Two pancakes ($9.80) arrive a par-second after you order them. The pale rice pancake with two limpid sections of duck breast, a spring onion or two and barbecue sauce on the side. Life is perfect on the receiving end of this ultimate comfort food. They haven't exactly tested the universe for new ideas in delivery but why mess around with perfection - something I tell my wife every single day.
Deepfried quail ($7.80) is a favourite, crispy without being oily, a simple arrangement. There's heaps of fresh chilli clinging to it, plus chopped spring onion, and it's well salted and pretty well the perfect accompaniment to a good beer, which you'll have bring with you. And from quite a-ways, remembering that we are in Belconnen and good booze is scarcer than teeth in this quail.
Twice-cooked pork with chilli ($19.60) is a nice, did I say nice, I mean yummy, take on the usual sweet and sour dish. A roughly knocked together pile of tender-as pork, spring onion, heaps of chilli and just a touch of sweetness tempering the heat. Nothing finessed about it, but seeing as it took seriously three minutes to get cooked and on the table, they've done well to actually have it mostly on the plate. You are not here for anything fancy, just good and simple and back on the road again, maybe a quick skate at the park around the corner. Kids these days, hey? We had to ride in drains when I was young, reckless and had bones that healed themselves.
Salted fish, diced chicken and bean curd ($17.60) is a more composed dish, texture and taste working together. A hotpot filled with soft silken tofu, little clusters of steamed slightly chewy chicken, a few spears of crunchy baby corn give a colour relief from the pale, greyish look. Binding all this together and making the dish is the salted fish. Wow, it's pretty good, respect, bam.
Super-tasty boneless duck ($21.60) completes the meal in the same way we started. I'm not sure whether this is some strange translation for a well-known Chinese duck dish, or another playful name along the lines of 2 Yummy, but the duck is as always mighty fine. Basically, Peking duck drowned in a sweetish gravy with a touch of chilli and shallot. Another way, number 126 if my adding is right, of presenting this most fabulous of birds, nice - and my work here is done in, oh, 36 minutes flat.
It all leans to simplicity and I reckon if you didn't choose wisely you could end up with some fairly average, if sustaining, Chinese. But getting to know the menu now, as I have (having been coming here for a while), I'm really enjoying the discovery of some quite interesting dishes. How could you not like a place that calls itself 2 yummy and offers, with some notice, whole suckling pig done in the Peking fashion. I'm still trying to find 10 people - I live in hope.
Address: 3/114 Boardwalk, Emu Bank, Belconnen
Phone: 6251 6622
Owner: Not provided
Chef: Ah Shun
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, lunch 11.30am-2.30pm, dinner 4.30pm-10pm (10.30pm on Friday and Saturday)
Licensed: No, BYO only, no corkage charge
Vegetarian: Plenty of options
To Pay: Visa, Mastercard, Eftpos
Wheelchair access: Access to the restaurant, not no disabled toilets
Wine list: n/a
Value for money: 4/4
11 something went wrong. 12 not so great tonight. 13 fine for a cheap and cheerful, not so for a place that aspires to the top end. 14 good. 15 really good. 16 great, when can we move in. 17-20 brilliant.
(The stars are a quick reference to the key highs or lows. They do not relate directly to the score.)
Bryan Martin is winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla.