EAST TAMPA — Fans of the original Yummy House on Waters Avenue might experience culture shock walking into Yummy House China Bistro, which opened Tuesday on E Hillsborough Avenue.
Partners John Zhao and Tommy Tang gave strict orders for the interior design.
"No pagodas, no Buddahs and no paper lanterns,'' said interior designer Darren White, who chose red and black accents to decorate the 200-seat restaurant, including a private dining room for 30.
The result is a showcase of "modern China beauty to celebrate our cuisines and our culture,'' said Zhao. Photographs of Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai dot the walls. Most tables are round, topped with spinning lazy Susans for family-style dining.
Zhao and Tang ordered the kitchen equipment custom made in Hong Kong. The cook staff came from San Francisco, New York and Las Vegas, said Zhao, who also said he paid their moving expenses.
"You can't find this talent here,'' says Zhao, noting the restaurant's signature salt and pepper mix is prepared with oysters, eggplant, tofu, shrimp and scallops, priced from $7.99 to $12.99. Other daily dishes include dim sum dumplings and buns, a dozen kinds of soups, clay pots and sizzling entrees. Darren's Basil Chicken, $12, is named for the interior designer.
"This is not American Chinese,'' Zhao said. "This is very traditional Hong Kong. I give you 100 percent guarantee you will know the difference when you taste it."
The Country Pumpkin Cafe connected to the new bistro will open in a few weeks. The original Yummy House remains open at 2202 W Waters Ave.
Yummy House China Bistro is located at 2620 E Hillsborough Ave., across from Sanwa Farmers Market. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and dim sum, and from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Call (813) 237-3838.
Smoke Barbeque will reopen in fall
Smoke Barbeque & Grill has closed for the summer. Gone mountain fishin', says Chef Dave Del Rio, but he'll be enhancing the menu, renovating the kitchen and, most importantly, improving the air conditioning. "The entire building will now be air conditioned, including the patio," he said.
Until the reopening in the fall, Del Rio is available for catering at (813) 679-5144.
Laughing Cat to move into Streetcar spot
Streetcar Charlie's Bar & Grille has closed and the Laughing Cat is on the prowl. By the end of the month, Laughing Cat's chef/owner Franco Lore expects to double the size of his 60-seat restaurant when it moves across the street to the now-vacant spot.
Streetcar Charlie's opened in 2008, anchoring the corner of Eighth Avenue and 15th Street and promoting the GaYbor business district.
Lore doesn't plan many changes, other than adding bar service for the first time. He'll still feature the bountiful lunch buffet, usually with 12 entrees, for $9.99. The popular veal chop special also stays on the menu.
The Laughing Cat will be located at 1820 N 15th St., thelaughingcat.com (813) 241-2998. (The phone number and hours may change, so check the website for updates.)
Byblos Cafe renovates, tweaks menu items
Beautifying Byblos Cafe will make the Middle Eastern restaurant easier to find, says general manager Aida Zischka.
By mid July, renovation will shift seating for 50 to a terrace hookah lounge fronting MacDill Avenue, just north of Bay to Bay Boulevard. Plump sofas and three large flat-screen televisions will attract late-night guests.
Look for a few menu tweaks, plus the addition of a Happy Hour dinner offer. For $25, two dinners include salad, hummus, entree and beverage, from 4 to 6 p.m. A new Sunday brunch menu will offer Lebanese breakfast dishes as well as omelets, lox and bagels, whole wheat pancakes and fruit.
Construction and all, Byblos Cafe is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner at 2832 S MacDill Ave. Call (813) 805-7977.
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