Yang's Gourmet House is a misleading name.
Tucked into a strip center across Heatherdowns Boulevard from the Stranahan Complex, this Chinese-American restaurant is distinctly not gourmet. And that's a plus.
If it were simply American, one could call it a meat-and-potatoes kind of place. The food is hearty, the servings are ample, and core clientele comprises families or couples without enough time or inclination to cook or those simply in search of a good ethnic meal.
Upon entry, visitors are greeted by the ubiquitous fish-tank (Is it a rule that every Chinese restaurant has to have one?) and several chairs for customers waiting for carry-out orders. A big room is divided into two parts by a low partition and faux greenery, a holdover from the smoking and nonsmoking days (it's all nonsmoking now), and each table and booth sports a white plastic covering topped by a big sheet of glass and paper place mats.
Though there is an intricate ceiling and Chinese pictures on the wall, one comes here for the food, not the dcor.
The extensive menu starts with soup and proceeds through appetizers, chef specials, combination plates, popular favorites, which include fried rice, lo mein, and chop suey or chow mein, and beef, seafood, chicken, and pork dishes. There's also a page of American dinners, with limited choices geared toward that unadventurous soul who never strays far from grilled cheese or pork chops.
Perhaps catering to American tastes, Yang's seems to have a heavier hand than many Chinese restaurants with meat or seafood in its entrees. You don't have to search for the shrimp in the Happy Family (shrimp, scallops, chicken, and beef with vegetables, $10.95) or the ham in the ham fried rice ($7.75); there's plenty of it.
Favorite meals at Yang's include the sizzling shrimp, which features shrimp and Chinese vegetables with a wine sauce on an extremely hot platter. It's put together tableside, and the aroma from the entre when the wine sauce hits the platter is extremely appealing. The taste doesn't disappoint. The vegetables are bright and crunchy and the sauce is light enough to complement the subtle taste of the shrimp.
Szechuan chicken ($8.75) is less visually inviting. Except for bits of green pepper, everything is tan or brown: chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and sauce. It looks sort of like a monochromatic stew, but it tastes just fine.
One dish that doesn't appeal is the Imperial lo mein, which combines stir-fried soft noodles with shrimp, chicken, and barbecued pork. The aroma and flavor of the barbecue overwhelms the other ingredients.
For cost-effectiveness, you can't beat a combination plate, which comes with a cup of soup (the wonton and egg-drop varieties are favorites), an egg roll, an entre, ham fried rice, a cookie, and hot tea or coffee. Prices range from $7.75 for the vegetable chop suey to $9.25 for the scallop vegetable deluxe. Favorites include the teriyaki steak, which includes three skewers of thin, tender marinated beef, General Tso's chicken, which carries a spicy-hot warning, and sweet and sour chicken, all priced at $8.75. Moderate eaters will find enough on their plates to take home for a second meal.
The smaller-portion lunch-special combination plates (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday) are about $3 less, and the carryout menu prices these meals even lower, but they don't come with soup, cookie, or drink.
Yang's serves beer and wine; the selections are extremely limited but the prices are on the low side. A glass of chardonnay to accompany the shrimp dinner was quite drinkable.
Service at Yang's is friendly and efficient. There's plenty of parking, unless there's an event at Gladieux Meadows, which shares the lot. A sign on the door says the restaurant is open seven days, but it recently started closing on Mondays.