YHS (Yummy House South) China Bistro is the newest iteration of its sister stores Yummy House in north and east Tampa, and comes to South Tampa after months of delays. According to our server, YHS carries the same menu as other Yummy House stores . The owners wanted a different feel for the brand and created YHS. This place looks and feels more upscale. It has a sparkling new inside featuring high ceilings with exposed fixtures and a neutral-colored modern feel. Oddly, there’s one large flat screen TV on a center wall in the large dining room. The front of the building has a bright Asian motif featuring a Koi pond feel. The rear of the building (where the entrance is) has nothing, not even a sign. When I hear the word bistro, I think quaint café in Paris serving simple French-style food. But that's me.
For appetizers we share Salt and Pepper Calamari ($8.99). It’s delectable bands of larger than usual squid (no tentacle pieces) fried in a crunchy tempura batter, dusted with salt, pepper and a delicious mix of roasted garlic, cilantro, scallions, chili seeds. The topping is accented with jalapeno pepper slices for some heat. It’s a great combo for calamari and I think to myself how it would make an excellent dry rub for beef! Sweet and hot sauce dips accompany the dish. Nicely done!
The Hong Kong Style Curry Shrimp ($12.95) is next. Our server asks if I would prefer white rice or fried, and I choose white. He didn’t tell me it was a $1 add-on. The dish is an overflowing bowl of about a dozen large stir fried shrimp and onions, red and green peppers, garnished with scallions and chives. It’s all married to a mild sweet-creamy-garlicky curry sauce. The menus description of “a subtle yellow curry” is accurate. It doesn't reflect a strong curry essence, but it’s really good. The vegetables are cooked to a mild crunch, but they take over the bowl. I wonder if a better description would be vegetable curry with shrimp. I get it that traditional Chinese diets consist of moderate amounts of meat or fish and a lot of vegetables, but still. I add the white rice for a taste of starch and it makes for some good eating. Duck and Dried Grape Fried Rice ($10.99) is served in a triangular shaped dish and is a mound of brown rice mixed with tender bits of roasted duck, scallions, and dried yellow grapes (raisins). As with traditional stir fry, eggs are added when cooking but can be opted out when ordering. The rice has a nice savory mouth from the oil used to stir fry it and is firm to the bite. The duck flavor carries throughout. Again, nicely done.
As with many Chinese restaurants, the menu is voluminous. Its 10 pages broken down in to different proteins, rice, noodles, vegetables, and appetizers. Portions are medium to large. Weekday lunch specials include a free (soft) drink and white rice. YHS has yet to attain a liquor license but one is coming according to our server. When it does, there’s a modern casual bar waiting. Lunch is from 11:00 – 2:45 and dinner service is from 4:45–9:30 PM daily. Dinner service transforms to linen table clothes and a slightly more refined look. The staff is attentive and very friendly, and prices are bistro (moderate) level.
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