Just like anyone, I love nothing more than wining and dining at 5-star restaurants where truffle oil, Carpaccio and foie gras are king. However, I am also the first female to pull over in no man’s land for delicious street fare goods. I have no reservations when it comes to entering a rundown dive where the food is deemed godly. Furthermore, I have no serious problem with the absence of décor and the presence of drab white walls, stained and torn cushion-top chairs and mismatched utensils so long as the food is incredible. Recently, I rounded up my favorite foodies and visited the one and only, Yummy House. My brother had just been to China last September and for some time was raving about the authenticity of Yummy House’s stir-fry, noodles and hotpots. I had also heard great things from many other reputable food lovers who dropped their jaws and judged me when I admitted I hadn’t been there yet. It was finally time to see what this Yummy House place was all about.
Walking in with a cooler containing my favorite bottle of wine, I was already looking forward to the much talked about Yummy House experience. BYOB restaurants with no guidelines or restrictions are a rarity so they had already scored some serious cool points.
When we walked up to a large table fit for 7, my brother’s girlfriend, a returning patron, immediately waved over a server before sitting down. She looked at me and smiled, holding back laughter, knowing full well I would be displeased. She pointed to the smudgy floor and the man grabbed a napkin, bent over, and picked up a very large roach. Luckily the rest of our dinner party had not arrived so this “minor” gruesome detail would have to be our little secret. Trying desperately to forget about the bug, I gulped down a glass of Pinot Grigio in under a minute. Our friends soon arrived and were good sports about the stained plastic tablecloth, the smeared glass “Lazy Susan” and the blurry lip-stained wine glasses.
We began our Chinese feast with their famous Salt and pepper Calamari, Eggrolls and Potstickers. The calamari was indeed marvelous. Battered beautifully, fried to perfect crispiness and topped with cilantro, jalapeno, red pepper flake, garlic, sea salt and pepper, I was taken back by its pleasantly powerful punch. Salty and spicy played key roles in this texture and flavor dreamland.
The eggrolls were generously stuffed and seasoned with various Chinese spices, giving each bite an enjoyable zing I’ve never experienced with eggrolls before. Fried golden and served with a sweet duck sauce, they were simple and delectable.
Though not in true steamed potsticker form, these fried pockets were still easy to scarf down with their tasty meaty insides spewing from the crispy shell. All of our starters were demolished in no time and from the wonderful impression of these delicious eats, I was anxious to devour the main courses.
We all ordered different entrees with intent to share. Yummy House practically insists sharing takes place with the “Lazy Susans” found at every table. The first plate brought out was the Cashew Chicken. Chicken, zucchini and cashews galore lay heaping and covered in a caramel-colored glaze. The chicken was tender, the zucchini was crisp but the sauce was almost too tangy in taste and terribly thick in texture. This dish could’ve easily come from a white and red square-shaped container. Next please.
Three more stir-fry chicken dishes came out in seconds- two plates of Spicy Yummy Chicken and a Szechwan chicken were now presented before us, looking almost identical in color and with similar vegetables studded throughout. Again, the Szechwan chicken was nothing to write home about. I liked every ingredient in it but the stir-fry certainly had no greatness over any run of the mill Chinese take-out joint. The Spicy Yummy Chicken was slightly more impressive with its great resonance of a yummy kick and its perfectly cooked fresh mushrooms creating an awesome variance in texture to the overly sauced chicken. So far this was the Chinese champion but I was still underwhelmed.
The Spicy seafood clay pot was delivered next and the aroma alone convinced me I’d be disappointed no more. A deep brown broth with shrimp, scallops, white fish and tofu was steaming hot and begging for consumption. The depth of flavors in the broth and the fresh seafood were pleasing to my palate but the abundance of tofu was not. Next time, I’d be sure to order the clay pot sans the tofu. Oh, and it wasn’t the least bit spicy. Sriracha please?
The last two dishes served were the Beef with XO sauce and the Singapore Noodles. The beef cut with a fork and came with crisp snow peas. The XO sauce was mild in sauce strength but still full of great flavor, making this beef stir-fry the runner up of the night.
After reading an article in a local magazine where Yummy House’s Singapore noodles were praised by a Tampa chef, I knew it was my duty to make sure we ordered them. I am also a noodle fanatic so I was most excited about my menu choice. The shrimp and pork strewn throughout the curry vermicelli noodles had my taste buds thrilled for the first bite. Tasty indeed but nothing more, my most valuable sense was let down by the lack of oomph it had been eagerly preparing for.
My hopes and dreams were somewhat destroyed. Yummy House did not overly excite and it certainly did not live up to all the hype. Mediocre service and drab ambiance were expected but I was only there for the fantastic fare. In addition to the scrumptious starters, only two entrees were delicious, the rest, simply subpar. Walking out of the joint, one of my friends who arrived late whispered, “A small bug crawled from under my plate halfway through… I stopped eating, right then and there.” I am sorry to sicken and turn off all devout Yummy House fans. Perhaps I just didn’t order the yummy plates and maybe the new location is clean?