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New Yummy House on Hillsborough Avenue first impression bleak

Tonight my friends and I decided to dine at the new Yummy House on Hillsborough Avenue. Everyone was excited to come out and try this new location. It is located only a few minutes away from the original Yummy House on Waters, but meant to deal with the strong demand for their food. We pulled up at around 7:45PM and the parking lot was completely full. We had to park in the parking lot next door and then walk to the building. From the exterior the building looks very stylish and this place is clearly different in appearance of the original.

We entered the restaurant and were impressed with mirrors hanging on painted walls and a fancy wine deck behind the hosting counter. The restaurant was busy, but it seemed to be moderately less than usual with the larger dining space. The hostess greeted us and took our name and party size, telling us our table would be ready in 20 minutes. We were surprised to hear such a low wait time and decided to wait outside. 30 minutes passed and the hostess came outside looking for someone, determining that we weren’t who she was looking for. She told us 20 more minutes. We waited another 10 minutes before the hostess came out and told us our table was ready. Excited as ever we entered the restaurant.

Once inside, the hostess told us we could be seated at a table towards the middle of the left-side of the dining room. She pointed and we went and sat down. Minutes passed and then the hostess told us we were the wrong party and she had us get up and move. We moved to the main waiting spot and the hostess approached us five minutes later sitting us at another table, once again not leading us to the table and leaving us there before coming back and escorting us once again back to the waiting room. This whole process was beginning to get on my nerves.

Finally, after a few more minutes we were told where our real dining table was and that we had to wait for two men to leave so they could clear it. After they left, we were seated at a different table and then we proceeded to wait 20 minutes as waitresses and waiters passed us by without one person coming by to ask us what we wanted to drink or what we wanted to order. While we waited we noticed other people seated around us receiving service much faster.

At last a waitress arrived and she immediately asked us if we were ready to order…we had to tell her that we wanted something to drink. She then took our order down and placed it. We decided to have 2 orders of Salt & Pepper Calamari, Mongolian Beef, Honey Pepper Beef,  Hong Kong Style Pan-Fried Noodles (my friend, the birthday boy’s favorite at the other location) and Duck and Dried Grape Fried Rice. There was no Dim Sum on the menu (maybe still in the works) and the 3 for 20 promotion on Waters Avenue was also missing on this menu. The drinks came quickly and I noted that the busboy was kind enough to refill our water when it reached a half-way point, a nice touch to an otherwise hopeless service disaster.

Our first dish arrived. The waitress hailed our Salt & Pepper Calamari that all of us loved so much was here with our second order on the way. We served the food around the table and then took a hard look at what was in front of us and discovered we had shrimp not calamari. We brought it to the attention of the waitress and she was fuming that the order had been mistaken, running back to the kitchen. The waitress told us they would compensate us for the mishap so we went on and ate the shrimp, somewhat tasty…but no calamari.

Our Salt & Pepper Calamari arrived a few minutes later and was tasty, but not quite what you would normally expect from Yummy House. There was less seasoning and the consistency of the calamari wasn’t the same. Our second calamari was considerably better than the first, but still a miss on why people love the Salt & Pepper Calamari at Yummy House. The dish that normally steals the show didn’t deliver.

The Duck and Dried Grape Fried Rice was considerably better and very similar to what you would have at the original Yummy House. Moist and sweet, it was a Yummy House newbie friend’s favorite and something I feel a strong urge to have during a visit. We ordered some extra white rice and were charged a dollar each, my friends noted it was usually a free plus at the original. However, I normally do not order extra rice so I can’t completely comment on that.

My friend turned 20 earlier today and we wondered if maybe the new Yummy House had any kind of birthday policy. We asked the waitress and she grabbed a menu telling us we could pick something off the menu to receive for my friend. After she took the order, we began questioning if she was certain with what she was saying and when she came back she admitted there was no birthday offer or special and we were going to be charged for that item, which I immediately cancelled.

There was long delays between dishes and I assume this probably had to due with an overcapacity kitchen. The Hong Kong Pan Fried Noodles tasted average to me, my friend mentioned the sauce was made incorrectly. The Mongolian Beef packed some spice, but ultimately was quite delicious. We hit our next problem when the Honey Pepper Beef arrived, long after the rest of the dishes. The waitress announced it as “mushroom beef” and when I told her it was the wrong entree and we ordered Honey Pepper Beef, she ran back and had a discussion with the manager, returning to argue that the dish was actually Honey Pepper Beef. This beef tasted nothing like honey and took our dining visit to an all-new low. I was in no mood to continue this fight and was ready for the check to leave. I looked around and all the other diners looked unhappy as well. One particular couple was fuming and having a serious discussion with the restaurant manager.

The “Honey Pepper Beef”

Unfortunately, the waitress did not bring the check until closing time and only at my request after she asked us if we had received all of our food, because she honestly seemed to have no clue. When she brought us the bill, most of my friends paid in cash with only one card used and the 18% tip already added on (I can understand large parties need to tip more, I don’t gripe about that). Our bill rang up to $69 including tax and tip. When we put part of the bill on a card, she came to tell us we needed to pay $17 on the card, although we gave her $62 in cash. She didn’t seem to have a way to do the math using their register and when I told her to charge a set amount instead she simply ran the number I gave her. Once we paid the bill we exited quickly for this horrible dining experience on previously hopeful enthusiasts.

I understand that the Yummy House on Hillsborough Avenue is a new restaurant. It takes time to adjust to a new place and perhaps new servers and kitchen staff. Maybe in a few months this location will be better, but in the meantime, the old Yummy House is only a few minutes away and I don’t see a point in coming to the Hillsborough location and dealing with bad service and mediocre food based on the Waters Avenue recipes when the real food is just a short drive away. The interior was impressive, you could even bring a date here…with improved service and fine-tuning on recipes this Yummy House may become a favorite in time.

If you’re a Yummy House regular like myself and looking at this place excitedly, I wish you better luck than I had during my time at the new Yummy House.

Yummy House on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Yummy House

Cuisine: Chinese

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Address: 2620 E. Hillsborough Ave. Tampa, Florida 33610

Phone Number: (813) 234-4140

Website: http://yummyhousechinabistro.com/

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Pacific Grill: An Asian Fusion Experience in Brandon


Spicy Pork Bulgogi

I recently went to Pacific Grill with some friends. I was pleasantly surprised with the authenticity of their food and the low prices for Korean cuisine. You can read more about my experience on my Creative Loafing article here: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/10/07/pacific-grill-brandons-asian-bistro-experience/

Pacific Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Pacific Grill
Address: 3452 Lithia Pinecrest Rd Valrico, FL 33596-6301
Phone Number: (813) 657-8744
Website: http://www.pacificgrillvalrico.com/home/

See more pictures below:

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P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Over the weekend I went to P.F. Chang’s with the family for my Mom and Sister’s birthday dinner. We had reservations, but the place was crazy packed and it still took about thirty minutes to get our table, so keep that in mind when making reservations at this restaurant.

The first thing I tried was their Salt and Pepper Calamari. The first thing I noticed when I got it was that the portion was tiny compared to the price. It seems that over the years P.F. Chang’s has cut back on how much food they serve. It wasn’t such a big deal for me personally, but I would imagine any party with more than two people would not really get the family dining experience out of P.F. Chang’s current portion sizes.

The Salt and Pepper Calamari was a bit of a disappointment. The seasoning comes on the side and when you dip it, it doesn’t taste right and then the dip wasn’t all that appetizing either. I probably wouldn’t order it again.

The lettuce wraps were alright, but nothing worth bragging about.

The Mongolian Beef, my favorite entree, was just as good as it normally is with a tenderness to it and the usual sauce that gives it such a powerful and appetizing taste.

Finally their Crispy Honey Chicken was excellent. Not too sweet and the crispiness making the texture much more enjoyable then the other entrees. It is probably one of the best variations of honey chicken that I have had.

Overall, P.F. Chang’s still has some great entrees although the portions are smaller, it is Chinese food which is filling regardless of smaller portions and there was still plenty of food as long as everyone ordered something. The atmosphere was relaxing as usual with dim lighting and a relaxed environment to have dinner in. The service was great and the waitress was quick to help out with whatever we needed.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Cuisine: Chinese
Address: 219 Westshore Plaza Tampa, FL 33609-1810
Neighborhood: Westshore
Phone Number: (813) 289-8400
Websitehttp://www.pfchangs.com/