Yunan Yang, Owner of The Cooking Girls restaurant in Houston, TX is a former medical researcher and an inspired cook. She credits her mother-in-law not only with teaching her how to cook but also about the importance of food.
"She opened an amazing window for me. What she did tells me how important healthy food is for the family and life." Coming from a big family in Chongqing in central China, Yang's mother-in-law learned the art of cooking from the top chef in China in the 1930s.
The basic rule about food concerns flavors, says Yang: "Let the food have their own natural flavor. Many foods can create amazing flavor once they meet each other, such as Ginger and Duck, Duck means cold based on traditional Chinese culture, Ginger means Hot." The contrasting flavors produce an amazing taste. Each combination of foods likewise needs to find a balance.
Yang says that "Our body needs balance, our world needs balance too." She knows what she's talking about. As a medical researcher with a number of publications in leading research journals, she had a stellar career. Her researches with radioactive materials were however making her sick, and after her son was born, her doctor advised her to change careers.
Food, she discovered, was a better way to health than drugs. Treatments target the disease too late, she says: "Once you have cancer cells growing, everything is a little bit late: why not focus on your daily life? Food is the best way to participate in our daily life and reminds us try our best to keep healthy. It is a better thing focus on daily life than to find help from doctors."
Yang loves cooking and expresses love for her family, friends, neighbors and colleagues through food. In 2015, she decided to open a restaurant and in a very short time, The Cooking Girls has become a Houston favorite. The New York Post ranks it as the 17th best Chinese restaurant in the the US.
Popular dishes include the Volcano Cod, which even wins over people who are not typically fish-waters, Twin Peppers Chicken, Mabo Tofu and Dan Dan noodles. Yang creates many of her own own healthy recipes such as for the pickled radish.
She also chooses the same ingredients for the restaurant that she would use for her own family. She feels that high quality protein is very important, and chooses premium organic meats, including Berkshire Pork, Angus certified beef, farm raised chicken and duck etc.
Healthy teas are another menu speciality. Dr.Lee's tea is named for a famous doctor who lived in China five thousand years ago and is good for the throat and the balance of the body. Yang feels that God blessed her when he gave her a second chance after recovering from her illness. Through her cooking she wants to share her belief that health is the most important thing for your family and your life. Her second restaurant, Pepper Twins, decorated with Yang's own paintings, has just celebrated a grand opening at River Oak.