Asian inspiration from Yi Pin Restaurant

Willy Fan (left) and Joe Lin are the chefs behind Yi Pin. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

By Louise Liebenberg

HAVING seen its iconic Oriental Village (which until fairly recently still housed the Kyoto and Lai Kung restaurants) swallowed up by the extensive construction of a new five-star hotel and multi-use convention centre currently under way at the Boardwalk, the casino and entertainment complex at the Port Elizabeth beachfront now has a brand new spot for quality Asian cuisine.

Yi Pin Restaurant opened near News Cafe in the Marine Drive walkway retail area of the complex earlier this month and its chef-owners Willy Fan, originally from Taiwan,  and Joe Lin, from China, have agreed to share a signature recipe on The Global Table today.

Salvelio and I attended the slick August 4 launch where invited guests were treated to Japanese whiskey, fabulous Chinese finger food, a teppanyaki dish or two and the freshest sushi and sashimi.

Also at the launch were the Boardwalk general manager Clifford Ngakane and former GM Mervyn Naidoo, now Sun International’s Gaming South divisional director, both as charming as ever.

Guests like municipal communications head Roland Williams tucked into delicious beef and bean sprouts prepared by Willy at one of the restaurant’s two teppanyaki stations and during  the course of the evening were treated to a traditional Chinese lion dance.

Willy used to be the restaurant manager for both Kyoto and Lai Kung, while Joe was the head chef at Lai Kung.

Both are enormously excited about their new venture, which is already receiving support from the Port Elizabeth public as word starts to spread about the excellent cuisine.

Yi Pin intends establishing itself as the city’s top Asian restaurant through a menu that is likely to have wide appeal. There is a section for traditional Chinese dishes, as well as for Japanese favourites like sushi and teppanyaki (the latter allows patrons to watch the chef deftly prepare their food on a hot grill), and even a few Thai options.

Yi Pin is open from 10am to 10pm, seven days a week. Bookings are on 041-583-6688.

Scroll down below to learn how to make Willy’s sliced beef and broccoli.

Yi Pin's sliced beef with broccoli. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Sliced Beef with Broccoli

Serves 2

Basic ingredients for the beef and broccoli

230g of beef fillet or topside; about 2 cups of broccoli florets, washed and trimmed; 2 cups of sunflower oil (some of this will be used for your marinade); 15 pieces of spring onion each cut about 5cm long; about a Tbsp of fresh ginger, very thinly sliced into actual slivers (not chopped)

Ingredients for the beef marinade

½ tsp sugar; ½ Tbsp soya sauce; ½ tsp baking soda (bicarb); 2 tsp cornflour (Maizena); 1Tbsp cold water; 1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Ingredients for the seasoning sauce

½ Tbsp soya sauce; 2 Tbsp oyster sauce; ½ Tbsp rice wine; 1 tsp sugar; ½ tsp cornstarch (Maizena)

Willy shows Louise how to prepare the dish. Picture: Salvelio Meyer


Slice the beef across the grain into thinnish slices. Place in a bowl, then add the marinade ingredients which you have first mixed: sugar, soya sauce, bicarb, cornflour and  cold water (not the oil). Mix well, then add the 1 Tbsp of oil and marinade for at least an half an hour.

In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the seasoning sauce and set aside.

Next immerse the broccoli in boiling water for 30 seconds; remove and plunge into cold water so it becomes a bright green colour. Then drain and dry.

Heat the rest of oil (except for 3 Tbsp which you must set aside) in a wok until the oil is very hot and near smoking at the top rim of the wok.

Tip: the oil is hot enough for the beef when it begins to sizzle and make bubbles when you put the tip of a bamboo chopstick into the oil.

Immerse the beef in the oil for about 10 seconds, then remove it right away and drain. Pour all the oil out of the wok.

Now heat just 3 Tbsp of oil in the wok and fry the spring onions and ginger for a few       seconds. You can also add some Chinese mushrooms if you have any. Add the broccoli and stir fry. After 10 seconds add the partially-cooked beef and the seasoning sauce.

Stir quickly over high heat until mixed. Remove to a platter and serve hot.

You could also have prepared the broccoli separately so you can plate it nicely as Willy did for us, by making a neat circle on the plate with the broccoli and then piling the saucy beef, mushrooms, spring onion and ginger mixture into the centre of it.

Serve immediately.

Louise and Salvelio annexed the sushi with Algoa FM's Shadley Nash at the official opening of Yi Pin. Picture: Leon Hugo

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