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NEWS: Yum Yum Hot Pot AYCE opening soon in Temple Terrace

It would seem that interest in hot pot in Tampa right now is on fire! Yum Yum Hot Pot AYCE is opening soon in Temple Terrace just minutes from USF and Tampa’s Uptown. Jennifer Will shared the news with that I can now confirm after a post about Nine Spices Hot Pot potentially coming to Fowler Avenue.

Yum Yum’s application for a license is still in progress.

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The business hasn’t posted anything yet on the social media channels it has up but their Facebook description reads: “All you can eat Hot Pot Restaurant. You cook all the fresh foods to your own liking with no grease. New dining experience await(s) you.”

Owner Cuong Chau says Yum Yum Hot Pot is still a few weeks away from completion.

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The owners have also already been added to Google Maps. The location is next to Shapes Gym at 11301 North 56th street Unit #6  Temple Terrace, Florida 33617

The official site is yumyumhotpotayce.com.

Exciting times in Tampa. More information as it comes in.

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Articles Restaurant News

NEWS: We Are Poke organic-focused restaurant now open in South Tampa

Full disclosure: I was invited to We Are Poke to check out their concept. I received a complimentary meal during my visit to taste the menu. All opinions listed in this article are my own and do not reflect the business or affiliates.

Poke restaurants are taking Tampa by storm and the popular trend shows no sign of slowdown yet. It seems that a new poke spot is opening almost every few weeks. We Are Poke is one of the latest restaurants to enter the scene with a focus on organic fruits and vegetables.

The owners are from Tahiti and wanted to bring some of their favorite food to Tampa diners. I stopped by over the weekend to check it out and found they offer both poke bowls with tuna, salmon, tofu, or chicken and also dessert bowls with yogurt or fruits.

The prices were fairly reasonable at around $10 for a bowl of poke and less than $8 for dessert bowls. Pricing organic food at those levels may prove making a profit quite difficult for the business owners. I think people are willing to pay extra for organic as long as it is well communicated by the concept.

One of the most noticeable things during my visit was the quality of the organic vegetables which tasted far superior to what I am used to a poke spots around town. Hopefully the quality will be maintained as they grow.

The location of the cafe is about the size of what you would expect for a tea shop or small cafe and they are located right next to a smoke shop across the street from Japanese Kitchen Dosunco. Parking is limited so plan ahead.

Restaurant Name: We Are Poke

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cuisine: Poke, Dessert

Address: 3309 W Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33609

Phone Number: (813) 353-0355

Cost: $

Menu: http://www.wearepoke.com/menu

Website: http://www.wearepoke.com/

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Articles Reviews

Sunday Brunch at O Cocina (South Tampa)

Full disclosure: I was invited to try the brunch menu at O Cocina for a complimentary tasting in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not represent O Cocina.

I am normally skeptical of the phrase “Modern or Contemporary Mexican”. It usually means expensive food that pretty much ditches all the things that make Mexican cuisine what it is minus some tortillas or guacamole. I’m happy to report that my experience at O Cocina was the furthest thing from that and truly represented a thorough understanding of Mexican cuisine in a gourmet twist.

I specifically came to try the brunch menu on my visit. What I found is that O Cocina maintains the freshness of Mexican cuisine and doesn’t ditch but embraces the spices or flavors that make it so great as it tries to reinvent it to a more elegant audience than your taqueria or dive food truck.

The meal began with an order of Huevos Rancheros ($11). To me the standard will always be represented by dishes such as this one. It sounds like an easy dish, but there is so many complications to it such as the ranchero sauce used, quality of the sides, tortilla, and of course the egg. O Cocina includes chorizo in their brunch dish and masterfully complements it with their version of beans that maintained true to Mexican staples.

The ranchero sauce has a fresh tomato taste as you can see. Nothing spicy here (not a problem for me). The fresh avocados were a plus – but for an even greater experience, I recommend adding sour cream to this dish as a side. The tortilla could be a little crispier for my liking, but I still enjoyed it nevertheless. The egg was also cooked just right (commonly ruined at many restaurants trying to adopt this dish).

I added Carne Asada ($7 extra) to my dish simply because I knew I wouldn’t be able to order both and stay hungry to finish.

The thing I found to be great was the seasoning of their Carne Asada, many chefs when creating their Mexican steak on the menu ditch the traditional seasonings that are honestly perfect to begin with and I was happy to find that O Cocina seasons their Carne Asada perfectly.

You can order a bowl of Carne Asada for around $11 which is a great price for brunch considering how much brunch seems to cost at some restaurants these days.

One interesting dish I also tried was the Churro Waffles ($5 for a side). Clearly playing to a trend happening in the restaurant sphere with churros literally being used for anything, this dish masterfully played both the flavor a waffle and a churro into an excellent breakfast item. I was impressed and would order it again. It was clear the creator of the menu wanted to do more than provide a sugary adventure and this dish was successful at this fusion dish.

For libations, I tried the mimosa which is standard and met my expectations (they are available bottomless by the way).

Although, the real winner to me was the cocktail I tried called Jose Gaspar (pictured above). This cocktail has milk, rum, bourbon, Madagascar vanilla bean, Mexican cinnamon, and nutmeg, It is a powerful and tasty concoction that reminded me of Rumchata but was a thousand times superior.

During my visit I decided to sit at the bar and watched the bartender at O Cocina carefully making cocktails from scratch. They all looked good and I can’t wait to try more in the future.

Speaking of the bar at O Cocina, it is one of the most beautiful bars I have seen in town. It brings up thoughts of Alice in Wonderland or Secret Garden. It is truly underrated how few bars in Tampa actually have a good ambiance so this was a welcome addition to me at O Cocina.

The chips and salsa were also great as was the guacamole, but at $10 for a fresh spread of guac – you’ll want to make sure you’re sharing with someone if you choose to order it (the portion was quite generous). I found it went well inside my Huevos Rancheros and with the steak.

I recommend visiting O Cocina if you haven’t had a chance to stop by yet. The operators will also be opening a second location soon at the new Armature Works food hall in Tampa Heights called Cocina Taqueria so look out for that soon.

Restaurant Name: O Cocina

Cuisine: Mexican, American

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cost: $$

Address: 4110 Henderson Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33629

Phone Number: (813) 289-0649

Website: http://www.ococina.com/modern-mexican

Menu: http://www.ococina.com/modern-mexican#menus-1-section