We visit the somewhat decrepit Montgomery Cinemas pretty often because it’s the only place less than an hour’s drive from home that shows independent and foreign films. It’s not that we never noticed Ya Ya Noodles, in the same shopping center as the theater, before. It’s just that virtually every Chinese restaurant we’ve been to in central New Jersey seems to have been stamped out by a single Take-Out Chinese Factory. The food sent forth from these places ranges from dismal to just decent enough for delivery. We don’t remember what exactly finally brought us through Ya Ya’s front doors but we are surprisingly glad we did so.
We’re not claiming any sort of authenticity for Ya Ya Noodles, nor do we care. We will say, however, that the regular menu goes far beyond the standard takeout offerings, occasionally dipping its toe into exotica like spicy beef tendon. Their Chinese New Year insert menu, however, offered all the exotica you’d care to sample, and then some. Us, we just came for dumplings and soup.
Sichuan Wonton with Red Oil were eight silky little dumplings in twin pools of peanut and hot sauces, sprinkled with crunchy scallions and sesame seeds. We could eat these all day! From the section of the menu titled Noodle Soup in a Bowl, one of us ordered the version called Vegetables and the other requested Malay Lo Mein Noodle Soup with Shrimp. Both were noodle soups, yet they couldn’t be more different.
The verdant bowl of vegetables and home-style noodles was piled with crunchy broccoli florets, strips of carrots, snow peas, whole baby mushrooms, pieces of Chinese cabbage, and a sprinkle of sliced green onions, in a clear, pale clean-tasting broth that may well have been vegetarian. We aren’t sure and didn’t ask. The steaming Malaysian soup was an opaque red-orange, sinus-clearing spicy broth touched with lemongrass and filled with lo mein and gai lan (or a similar green vegetable), a few crunchy bean sprouts, and dotted with delicate little white shrimp. On a cuttingly cold single-digit evening we couldn’t have conjured a more warming meal.
There’s reference online to Ya Ya Noodles being somehow related to Tiger Noodles down the road in Princeton. That may be but neither website mentions the other restaurant. If you head out to Tiger Noodles you’re on your own. We will, however, be back to Ya Ya Noodles.1325 Route 206 North Skillman NJ 08558 609-921-8551 Ya Ya Noodles’ Website Ya Ya Noodles on Facebook