The Ye family immigrated from mainland China, Shanghai, specifically, and took up residence in Idyllwild.
In 1988, Freeman Ye took over the iconic Chinese restaurant on Cedar Street, Hidden Village. The award-winning chef created his own style of Chinese cooking — adapted for American tastes but more exceptional than most Chinese restaurants.
Our children grew up enjoying that little red place — running across the little bridge out front and rubbing Buddha’s belly inside for good luck.
My husband honed his Chinese speech through numerous servers there. (He speaks pretty simple restaurant Chinese). He learned to read and understand the writing on the dishes and the art on the walls.
When Freeman retired and moved off the Hill, his son, Bobby, took over. After many years, Bobby is tired now and is closing our favorite Chinese restaurant.We are heartbroken. We will miss the Special House Fried Rice, Mongolian Beef, Scallops and Mushrooms, Shrimp and Snow Peas, General Tso’s Chicken, Orange Chicken and other wonderful dishes that only this restaurant could produce that well.
The next generation — four of our five grandkids (Finn is still a baby) — have all developed a special kinship there. It is the favorite dining-out place of Mina, our eldest.
Freeman and Bobby tried to sell the restaurant before closing it but a potential deal fell through. Now the building is for sale and closure is expected Sunday, March 16.
Saturday night, we decided to order take-out and hang out with grandkids and their mommy. Jack picked up the take-out and said the line was long with people either picking up their order or seeking a seat at a table.
The word is out about the closure and many of us are trying to get one last bite off that incredible Hidden Village dinner menu. We’ll miss you, Bobby and Freeman.
Becky Clark, Editor