Yan means “smoke” in Cantonese. But there’s not much of a smoking tradition in Cantonese cuisine.
Yan’s owners, Narada Kudinar and chef Raymond Lim, thought a venue serving smoked meats would make for a good neighbourhood restaurant; tasty and casual. But considering their Chinese background, they decided against doing the American smoked meats thing.
Yan serves juicy, cumin-rubbed lamb ribs smoked and topped with chimichurri (with chilli, soy, white pepper and sesame instead of the usual ingredients); pork belly smoked and grilled with a kabayaki glaze (what you usually find on Japanese eel).
The decor is fittingly casual: dark timber furniture (wishbone chairs, of course), ceiling box lamps and a long bar with tiles coloured like tropical lagoons.
Kudinar and Lim recommend ordering the lamb, pork belly and/or some particularly smoky chicken thighs and getting an equal number of sides, such as the Singaporean chilli-crab-style mussels with homemade bao; Sichuan-pepper calamari with powdered lime; and a pear and cucumber “slaw” tossed with sweet chilli and vinegar.
Desserts such as a deconstructed lime pavlova with ginger and pandan jelly or lychee ice-cream are perfect antidotes to the meat dishes. Coconut ice-cream and a coconut filled with coconut jelly are similarly refreshing, although they have intense flavours.
There's a range of beers to drink, or you can BYO wine for $3 per person.