THE Chinese New Year has kicked off ... so welcome to the Year of the Dragon.
And if you’re going to mark the big occasion, you might as well go hot or go home. Or in our case go to Yu.
It’s a while since we ventured over the door of this ever-popular Chinese eatery, a landmark on Union Street.
We dropped in for an early evening bite after a bit of retail therapy and for the first while were the only diners there ... but the place soon filled to the rafters, creating an atmospheric busy buzz.
Quite impressive for a cold, dark midweek night.
It was the cold and dark that probably influenced the menu choices for me and Mrs B.
We both went for starters guaranteed to bring a bit of fierce heat to our chilled bones.
And the Thai salad certainly did that and more.
Don’t let the name lull you into a false sense of security. Salads in Thailand are clearly light years away from the bland leaves and cucumber chunks that are traditional in the UK.
This one came with matchsticks of carrots, cucumber and leaves, elegantly presented but shot through with tiny wee slivers of chillis ... bombs of pure heat that set your mouth burning, in a good way.
All of this was bound together with a Thai salad splash, rich and redolent with fish sauce.
Did I mention the steak that the salad is built round? I should, because it was melt in the mouth perfection.
Our other starter (we were sharing) was Peking hot and sour soup with the emphasis on hot.
This was a spicy, thick broth that was full of prawns, mushrooms, carrots, peas and morsels of meat.
It was more-ishly good and an excellent antidote to the Aberdeen chill.
In fact, I was working up a sweat as I worked my way through it.
We thought that after all that heat we should go for a bit of contrast with our mains, deciding to tone things down by sharing a not-fierce-at-all lemon chicken, but keeping our tastebuds on their toes with a chilli-infused chicken kung po.
The lemon chicken was beautifully cooked, cased in the lightest almost-not-there batter.
The sauce itself was removed from the gloopy, chemically version that too often blights what should be a delicate dish.
That said, this one was also on the sharp side, hitting the sour notes but without the necessary sweetness to balance that out. It veered dangerously close to bland.
The kung po chicken had no such problem, a dish full of meat, water chestnuts and spring onion.
The sauce itself was tangy with a chilli hit that introduced itself quite slowly before really letting you know that it was a real contender on the spice front, up there with our sublime starters.
Someone had been a wee bit heavy handed on the vinegar front, though, which ran the risk of dominating the kung po dish.
That was really a minor quibble for a fine feed ... one that our wee one enjoyed too as she quietly demolished a bowl of her personal favourite Chinese dish, chicken fried rice.
Hopefully, we won’t wait another year before deciding to have a Yu do to ourselves.