THE MEANING OF YEN CHING
Perhaps the name “Yen Ching” offers hints of the restaurant’s long-standing success. The Chinese characters that make up the multifaceted “Yen Ching” symbolize gold and the forging of prosperity and wealth. Yen Ching also means “City of Sparrows” harkening back to the beloved capitol of China during the springtime when the sparrows would eat all the mosquitos, creating a more pleasant experience for those who graced her streets.
Nestled in the heart of Boise, Yen Ching has become a hallmark for locals and business travelers frequenting the City of Trees. When Boise Weekly touted Yen Ching for having the “Best Local Chinese Food” it was no surprise to its patrons who enjoy the eatery’s large-portioned meals and affordable prices.
YEN CHING IN DOWNTOWN BOISE
In 1985, downtown Boise was on the cusp of an urban renewal, possessing much potential for its one day becoming the thriving and trending scene it is today. For Phillip, he saw a golden opportunity. The following year in 1986, the family-run restaurant was joined by Satoshi, a warm and welcoming face, who has been with Yen Ching ever since.
As downtown Boise grew and developed into the vibrant place it is today, Yen Ching grew right along with it, adapting to the many changes and trends through the years. It’s pretty simple really, Yen Ching is one of the best restaurants in Boise. The Chou Family and Satoshi have been making their culinary mark for over three decades.
Yen Ching Cuisine
True to its roots in Northern China, Yen Ching specializes in Mandarin, Hunan, and Sichuan cuisine. These authentic dishes are made with fresh ingredients and, combined with years of experience, offer customers a taste of China in a full dining experience.
Known as Jing or Beijing cuisine, Mandarin cuisine consists of the traditional staples from China’s capitol city. Accompanying many Mandarin dishes are scallions, cucumbers and delectable sauces. A few favorites include roast duck, vegetable and meat filled dumplings, known as pot stickers, dipped in soy sauce and vinegar, and soft, pillowy steamed bread called “bao”. In addition, Yen Ching serves Beijing’s best-known culinary export, Peking Duck, a specialty that requires ordering 24 hours in advance.
Hunan cuisine is characterized by hot and sour flavors. Situated in the subtropical rice growing region in Northern China, rice and rice noodles are the staple foods. With the province’s hot summers and chilly, humid winters, Hunan cuisine focuses on a blend of red peppers and spices to balance out the excessive cold and humidity. Accompanying hot peppers and spices are often green onions combined with vinegar, shallots, and ginger seasoning an assortment of sautéd pork, fish, chicken, and vegetables.
Sichuan cuisine, also spelled Szechuan, offers some of the most famous Chinese dishes known around the world. Located in the southwestern region of China, Sichuan dishes are characterized by “The Five Fragrances”, consisting of fennel, pepper, aniseed, cinnamon, and clove along with chili and Sichuan pepper. Known for their hot, spicy, and rich flavors, Sichuan staples include Mapo Tofu, minced meat and tofu in a hot and spicy bean based sauce, and The General’s Chicken, which is tangy spicy chicken with a side of broccoli—a customer favorite.
With roots in Northern China’s Shandong Province, the Yen Ching Family’s path to Idaho was indirect, zigzagged and nothing short of a culinary adventure. For starters, the founder of Yen Ching, Phillip, is not your average chef. As a young chemical engineer and teacher in Asia, Phillip’s career path detoured into studying the science of sauté and the chemistry of cooking. That was over four decades ago and there has been no looking back since.
Phillip and his wife Fan Mei are retired now, but his original recipes are still used in the Yen Ching kitchen today. Yen Ching is run by co-owner Satoshi, who has been with the family restaurant since the 1980s.
The Yen Ching Family is passionate for the Chinese restaurant business. They believe in hard work and the American dream of enterprise and entrepreneurship. In addition, their love for Idaho and all it has to offer has made the local phenomenon of Yen Ching what it is today.
For the Yen Ching Family, Idaho means fresh air, pristine waters, four seasons, good skiing and business opportunities. In 1983, Phillip and Fan Mei moved to Ketchum, Idaho where they opened up a restaurant in the Wood River Valley. After selling the Ketchum restaurant, Phillip and his family settled into the Treasure Valley, opening one restaurant in Nampa, several more in Boise and one in Idaho Falls. With the exception of the downtown location, all of the other Yen Chings have been sold to industrious employees, which continue to thrive in Idaho.
At Yen Ching we strive for excellence not only in the quality of our ingredients and presentation but also in our customer service. As a part of Yen Ching and the Boise community for over three decades, I have to say it’s all about the people. We always love seeing new faces and meeting customers passing through, but it is our local patrons—many we know on a first name basis—that make Yen Ching what it is today.
— Satoshi, Co-owner and Manager
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