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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yummy House China Bistro, Tampa, FL

Yummy, indeed! I've been reading Yummy's positive press online for quite some time and finally decided to hit it this weekend. I enjoy Chinese food, but generally think of it as something to pick up on the way home when I'm too tired to do anything else on a Friday night. It's been quite awhile...too long...since I've actually dined in an authentic Chinese restaurant with real atmosphere, stoneware plates, chopsticks that don't come in little paper sleeves, bona fide waiters and a bound menu (not a chintzy printed flyer). I liked it.

Lunch business was still booming when UD and strolled into the E. Hillsborough Ave. location at 2:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon. I was immediately impressed by the relaxing, clean and contemporary decor...with nary a dragon nor lantern to be found. In case I needed any more proof that I wasn't at Golden Bowl, I found it once I cracked the menu and saw offerings like frog, sea cucumber and jellyfish (among other creatures I wouldn't approach without an industrial strength can of Raid in one hand and a spear gun in the other) that I wasn't feeling adventurous enough to try (do I look like Andrew Zimmern?). This is not faux Chinese-American cuisine...this is the real deal, so don't expect cellophane-wrapped fortune cookies to be deposited on the table with the check.

I've read a few negative reviews of the service here, but ours was polite and efficient enough. There were a couple of glitches, but I'm not certain they didn't result more from a slight language barrier than incompetence or a lackadaisical attitude. We perused our menus while sipping a couple of ice-cold brewskis and settled on the Eggrolls and Salt and Pepper Calamari as appetizers. The eggrolls were good if not remarkable. Delivered hot and crispy, their smaller size afforded a pleasing ratio of wrapper to veggies.

The Salt and Pepper Calamari did not show up until after the entrees were presented, but it wasn't the end of the world. This was unlike any fried calamari I've ever had. The crispy tempura coating had a peppery kick that we both really liked and the squid was quite tender. It was a heavier breading than I normally prefer, but it worked well in this application. Two paws up!

Yes, that shameful glimmer of fork in the calamari photo belongs to me. If I had to lift every morsel of food I ate from plate to lips using two sticks, I'm pretty sure I could hit my dream weight but would be so bitchy that not even my dog would share airspace with me. Plus, I'm a redneck who occasionally has a beer for breakfast and leaves her Christmas lights up all year, so what do I have to prove? Underdog gloatingly demonstrates his cultural superiority:

I got a little glimpse of heaven (probably the closest I'll ever come to the pearly gates, thanks to the disco era) when I sank my teeth into the Honey Walnut Shrimp. The generous portion of large, super-lightly breaded shrimp drizzled with honey and toasted walnuts were even better than I dreamed they'd be. The steamed rice they were supposed to be served with never materialized, but portions were far larger than we could possibly shoehorn down anyway so all was forgiven. Who wants to waste precious stomach space on rice when you have this?

Last but not least in its deliciosity was the Duck and Dried Grape Fried Rice...the most amazing fried rice I've ever had. What more is there to say? Half of it is in the fridge as I type, but almost certainly will be gone before the sun comes up as I do tend to sleepwalk when leftovers of this caliber are in the house.

Dogboy, who grew up in New York, proclaimed Yummy House's cuisine the best Chinese food he's ever eaten in Florida and is of the opinion that it could easily hold its own in the Big Apple. No small praise. Quality, quantity, ambiance and unique menu offerings make this restaurant a Tampa jewel.

Yummy House China Bistro on Urbanspoon

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