Yang's Ramen and Tacos
An ex-Chica Bonita chef is serving up favourite dishes from Mexico and Japan at this Castlecrag spot.
Castlecrag's modern Asian restaurant Yang and Co has gone through some changes recently. Now, it's called Yang's and it specialises in just those two things: ramen and tacos. Run by Lex Wong (Chica Bonita and China Doll), the restaurant reopened in early October 2020 as part noodle bar, part taco shop.
"I always dreamt of specialising in just one or two specific dishes, and I figured with COVID-19 it was the perfect time to make the change," Wong told Concrete Playground. "I knew I wanted to make ramen, but I didn't want to be a Japanese restaurant, and I'd always been playing around with the idea of doing tacos. I figured they're both comfort foods, so it just works."
Yang's slogan is "comfort food but not fast food", and its succinct menu measures up to this mantra. The dishes may look simple, but a lot of thought has gone into each and every one.
You'll only find four ramen dishes here ($16.90–18.90), one of which is vegan. The plant-based broth is combination of Yang's special house-blend of five types of miso, which is spooned over charcoal roasted veggies, bamboo shoots, nori and wavy hakata-style noodles. All of Yang's noodles are made using locally sourced, organic grains from Gunnedah, NSW.
The meat ramen, on the other hand, are set in a rich tonkotsu-style broth. Yang's version is made with a seafood shoyu tare sauce and takes two days to make. For toppings, you can choose from traditional thick-cut pork char siu or charcoal-grilled chicken. The latter can be found in the toripaitan ramen, which also comes topped with black fungus, fermented corn, banana prawn wontons and a shoyu-marinated egg.
As far as the tacos ($6–7) go, Yang's specialty is carne asada, made using dry-aged, grass-fed Angus beef.
"We dry-age all of our steak in house and we'll serve a different cut of it depending on the day," says Wong.
For the carne asada taco, the beef is cooked over coals, then served on corn tortillas (rolled and cooked to order) with guacamole and your choice of Yang's house-made salsas — those include pico de gallo, mild tomatillo, smoky roasted salsa verde and chipotle salsa roja.
Elsewhere, you'll find Baja-style fish tacos with pickled jalapeños and cream sauce, slow-roasted pork tacos served with habanero salsa and kimchi quesadillas made using four different cheeses. Plus, there's an extensive specials board you can pick from.
For drinks, there's a cocktail list that spans classic and Sichuan-spiced margaritas, yuzu and lavender sours, and G&Ts. These are on top of the growing range of mezcals, tequilas and bourbons behind the bar. There are also heaps of Japanese and Mexican beers on offer, plus some local drops by the likes of Two Metre Tall, Modus Operandi and Young Henrys.
Both walk-ins and bookings (for four and up) are welcome, but Yang's is only able to seat 24 at the moment and it's already a popular spot — so grab three mates (and book in advance) or expect to queue up.
Yang's is open Friday–Saturday 12–3pm and Tuesday–Saturday 5–10pm.