The short-lived, yet much-loved cafe of Ms Murray has seen a sad year pass since she closed her doors. Although the memories of her silky pea volute and coddled egg live on, the dust has now settled and the creative energies have been well spent in the kitchen executing what is a simple yet satisfying menu here at Yan, whilst owners Raymond Lim and Narada Kudinar continue to tend to Woolloomooloo's John Montagu from afar. Yan in Cantonese is 'smoke', defining the new venture as fusion between asian and american smokehouse - delivering a clean cut, simple experience with top quality food.
With the size of the kitchen and dining area near on par with each other, service is notably prompt, and carries the bright, friendly energy previously experienced at Ms Murray's. The menu nearly covers it all - smoked Pork Belly, Chicken Thigh, Lamb and Wagyu cover most of their Large Plates & Meats, alongside mussels with a housemade chilli sauce with bao buns. Small plates are a real treat and cover Yan's version of whitebait, squid, olive rice and cucumber slaw.
The wagyu striploin ($46) seems expensive, but in all senses money well spent. Not only a treat for the eyes with a striking contrast from charred outer to the pink, glistening flesh, this steak melts in your mouth and is highly satisfying on its own, without the accompanying chimichurri, albeit delicious. Asian greens ($12) are another standout, tender and garlicky, served with a creamy tahini which is a welcome change from the chimichurri that seems to be so prominent on the menu. That said, the chimichurri is mildly sweet, soft and well balanced in flavour. The silverfish ($14) are crisp and light, and great mixed around your tahini greens. The olive rice ($6) is a suitable accompaniment to the menu, seasoning what is usually a void flavour, still allowing room for more serious notes found in other dishes.
Yan allows BYO, so if you've failed to come prepared, I recommend the lychee soda ($6). It's clean light flavours of lime & coconut are perfect for the smoky and pronounced flavours experienced throughout the menu, without it being too sweet. Topping this off, the Coconut Three-Ways ($15) takes the same approach, with layers of coconut jelly, coconut ice-cream, and freshly spooned coconut flesh offering a refreshing note to end on. Despite the break, its clear the team behind Yan have not lost their skill in taste and presentation, and deliver another stellar line up in the new Wolli Creek establishment.