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Went to China Yuan (Tampa) for lunch today

askdrtodd Oct 19, 2009 10:33 AM

Wasn't really blown away. Went with a co-worker, we got the Jellyfish app ($6.50) which was good, the pickled veggies mixed in with the jellyfish were a nice texture contrast, and the dish had a good spiciness on it's own (before I used a substantial amount of their yummy hot paste/oil condiment). Next we had the BBQ trio lunch special (good deal of food for ~$7) which was tasty but had a LOT of fat on it, like a lot. I mean like a lot a lot. Bok choy was well cooked, rice was too, the BBQ pork was by far the best because it was mostly meat, whereas the chicken and duck were mostly fat and bones. Lastly we tried the Salt & Pepper Squid ($9.50), because I remember reading somewhere that it was good at this restaurant. It was good but it was by no means better than calamari at a good restaurant, I was really expecting more. It came with slices of onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper, which I actually enjoyed more than the squid. I'd be willing to try this place again if I were able to go with a group and explore more dishes, but what I had today really didn't seem "worth the calories". Not bad by any means but not what I was hoping for.

-----
China Yuan
8502 N Armenia Ave Ste 1A, Tampa, FL 33604

  1. Manderley Oct 19, 2009 03:46 PM

    sorry you were disappointed, dt. i love china yuan. their dim sum is such a treat, but they only serve it early in the day, and i usually go for dinner. i loved their salt and pepper squid, but it was soooo salty my lips swelled up! china yuan and abc seafood are my 2 faves. if there's another group foodfest there, count me in.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Manderley
      c
      CFishman Oct 19, 2009 04:28 PM

      I like China Yuan but their Salt and Pepper dishes went downhill after the rehab. Shortly after the reconstruction I would ask them to make it like they used to make it and they appeared to have no idea what I was talking about. You seemed to like half your meal pretty well. That strikes me as a pretty good outing. The downside of being a foodie is that you have to suck up a bad meal every once in awhile.

      1. re: CFishman
        Mild Bill Oct 19, 2009 05:48 PM

        I thought they were closed on Mondays.... ??

        The Salt & Pepper Calamari, mixed seafood, tofu, porkchops, & shrimp, at 'Yummy House' is worlds better...
        Like WORLDS! ;-)

        Quite the signature recipe...

        1. re: Mild Bill
          Manderley Oct 19, 2009 07:46 PM

          i guess i'm going to have to give Yummy House another try. I found the staff attitudinal, the bathrooms dirty and there were flies buzzing around our table when we went last year. i had ordered the salt and pepper calimari but our waiter (who was hesitant to give us a table WITHOUT RESERVATIONS even though the place was nearly empty...and everyone who walked in after us also had no reservations) told me NOT to order it, i wouldn't like it, it has a "horrible smell" that i would not be able to tolerate. well, okay then. i had something else, and next time i went to china yuan i had their salt and pepper calimari, which i loved.

          but i keep reading about how good Yummy House is, and i must say i trust the taste of the people who recommend it...so okay. i'll give it another shot. :)

          1. re: Manderley
            rhnault Oct 20, 2009 03:02 AM

            It still is not as clean or gracious as China Yuan but the food is good. I have been back twice in recent months. They treated me similar to you close to 2 years ago.
            I like the salt n pepper calamari at China Yuan better. Yummy House is worth going though for the salt n pepper tofu. It is so good!

    2. askdrtodd Oct 20, 2009 05:22 AM

      The service wasn't bad when we went, no flies, etc. Please someone tell me what is the foodie-obsession with salt & pepper squid? The dish we had was less seasoned and had a comparable if not inferior texture (of the squid meat) to some better local italian restaurants' calamari! Hell I'd take BT's squid salad or Vizcaya's squid ANY day over this stuff, it's just breading, salt and squid! Forgive me for being negative here but what is the fuss about? When I think of foodie food I think of creative or new dishes with combinations of flavor, seasoning, spices, textures, etc that create an artful experience on the ol' palette. I will absolutely give ABC a try next and go with more people so we can order more dishes, maybe I hit CY on an off day or something?

      12 Replies
      1. re: askdrtodd
        rhnault Oct 20, 2009 06:46 AM

        We usually go on the weekends to CY when they have dim sum . I like the shrimp dumplings, pan fried dumplings, shrimp in rice paste, pineapple bun, fish balls, etc.. Then we have a vegetable. Bok choy, snow pea tips, spinach, broccoli, whatever is the best that day. For entrees I like squid with black bean sauce, walnut shrimp, curried squid, clams in black bean sauce, beef chow fun in black bean sauce, ginger and scallion beef, whole fish with ginger and scallion. Pretty much anything with black bean sauce or ginger and scallion are our favorites.
        China Yuan is always clean and service is always good. Granted we are regulars but the staff really hustles when it is busy. We like to eat a lot of that hot pepper sauce and they keep the water full!

        1. re: rhnault
          Manderley Oct 20, 2009 09:40 AM

          i'm a big dim sum fan. i also love the hmmmm what is it? shredded pork or beef in a soft bun :) and for dessert the sesame balls. and the pan fried dumplings are top notch. damn this diet already!! but i'm down over 35 pounds in just over a month so i'm going to keep at it until i spontaneously combust.

        2. re: askdrtodd
          Mild Bill Oct 20, 2009 06:59 AM

          Askdrtodd, when you taste Yummy House's S&P Squid you'll know what the big deal is...
          When I bring people it slams them every time...

          I get just the opposite soyvice when I go in there, but I only go for lunch when they're not bananas...
          Either John the owner comes out with a handshake or friendly greeting, the tall chef gives me a wave, or one of the waitresses who my brother used to date gives me a hug 'cause we're old friends...
          John remembered me in the beginning because I was one of the very few Amellicans who ordered 'Crispy Pork Chitterling' every time I came in...

          But they're nice people, I think maybe you guys go when they're busy...

          And askdrtodd, when I ordered China Yuan's S&P Squid I described it similarly to you...

          And since I also, trust the taste of folks who love 'China Yuan', I'll be exploring their menu a bit more with y'alls help...
          I think I haven't ordered the right things...

          1. re: Mild Bill
            Mild Bill Oct 20, 2009 08:13 AM

            Actually I might go today... Anybody hungry?

            1. re: Mild Bill
              c
              CFishman Oct 20, 2009 09:21 AM

              Yeah, I'm hungry.

              1. re: CFishman
                c
                CFishman Oct 20, 2009 10:40 AM

                Fail. We need something like the alert systems superheroes have to tell us when to spontaneously congregate.

                1. re: CFishman
                  askdrtodd Oct 20, 2009 01:09 PM

                  this is a good point. Can we get a list of tampa foodies' email addresses together so we can all congregate whenever convenient? Should one of us post up a thread regarding this? I'd love to have new lunch buddies, especially lunch buddies that like good food and would be up for ordering/splitting more dishes so I can get a better idea of what a restaurant has to offer sort of thing :) I'm going to post up a new thread, you guys feel free to chime in. I think that'd be cool to get together every few weeks for lunch.

              2. re: Mild Bill
                Manderley Oct 20, 2009 09:41 AM

                i was born hungry. but this morning i'll stick to 1/2 c Fiber 1, 1/2 c skim milk, 1/4 c raspberries. :(

              3. re: Mild Bill
                askdrtodd Oct 20, 2009 09:51 AM

                Bill, I did order the S&P squid, I talked about it in my original post, thats crazy that I keep reading that people are blown away by it, all I got was fried squid strips with salt on them (no pepper, no anything else, no sauce, no spices, no rub, no nuthin). This is why I must ask what the big deal is? Does someone have a picture of the salt and pepper squid dish? Did I get something else?

                1. re: askdrtodd
                  c
                  CFishman Oct 20, 2009 09:53 AM

                  I think Bill was talking about Yummy House's S&P Squid.

                  1. re: askdrtodd
                    m
                    Miss E Oct 20, 2009 01:10 PM

                    YH's salt & pepper calamari is, number one, always fresh. This is not last year's defrosted squid rings. Then, they add a flash-fried topping of green onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno (help me out if I skipped something). That topping is like crack, and sends the dish right over the top. The fried tofu is prepared the same way, but IMO the tofu cubes are sometimes too dry, so I prefer the calamari.

                    1. re: Miss E
                      rhnault Oct 20, 2009 01:22 PM

                      I would be happy with just an order of the topping ;-)

              4. m
                Miss E Oct 20, 2009 08:33 AM

                I think the food is generally better at YH, sometimes a lot better, depending on the dish. It seems to me that within the last year or so they have cleaned the place up and made an effort to be more welcoming. Certainly no flies! They are beginning to recognize us, which occasionally brings us a smile! But once I had to argue firmly that they had brought me the wrong dish; one server insisted it was the right one, before another one came to take it away. So when I send people there for the first time, I take care to set their expectations. CY is more appealing visually, and their servers are more professional, it's true.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Miss E
                  a
                  andy huse Oct 20, 2009 05:55 PM

                  Although I love China Yuan, I learned to order selectively. My faves: beef with ginger and scallion, lo mein, salty toasted pork chop, bok choy, snow pea tips, beef chow fun with black bean sauce (ask for it dry), wonton shrimp soup, beef and cilantro soup, pan fried dumpling, beef ribs with black pepper sauce, general tso's chicken, walnut shrimp, and roast pork. The pork bun dim sum is great--- sweet!

                  Yummy House may have the edge in the kitchen. I have to explore that menu some more. I never dated any of the waitresses, so the service is tolerable, but not pleasant.

                  so Yummy House fans, I'd be interested in hearing of your favorites, with the exception of salt and pepper. They clearly rule in that department. I want to explore the menu with some go-to dishes. I really loved the grouper with xo sauce,

                  1. re: andy huse
                    c
                    CFishman Oct 20, 2009 06:45 PM

                    Andy,

                    I just want to say that Tampa chowhound has gotten very active recently and we owe that to your initiative in getting us together and then writing our experiences up so nicely. I hope we can keep the momentum. It's a nice community that's building. Oh yeah, what do you people like at YH?

                    1. re: CFishman
                      Mild Bill Oct 20, 2009 10:32 PM

                      One of my favorite things at YH has been the Hong Kong Pan Fried Noodle...
                      --It's a large tangled nest of lo mein-like noodles fried till crispy and toasty and put in a large glass bowl... Then a blend of sliced Char Siu pork, chicken, large shrimp, scallops, snow pea pods, vegetables, & a luscious garlicky sauce is poured over the nest... You let it sit---- it stays hot a long time...
                      Some of the noodles soak up the sauce and soften magnificently, while other bites contain more toasty and crispy noodles...
                      It's a scene man...

                      The Seafood Hot & Sour Soup is something very special...
                      A perfected recipe, and consistent so far...
                      There's depth, complexity, deliciousness, textures, and a lil' spice...
                      I'd love to get a couple big orders of that and celebrate it with you guys...
                      10 or so people making yum yum noises in concert!

                      The Spicy XO Seafood Fried Rice is something that I TRY to only eat half of, because of how much pleasure it gives my wife when I bring her the other half...
                      The first time she tried it her eyes opened wide and there were frequent yum yum noises till it was gone---- as it's been the few times since...
                      "It's as good as you said it was" kinda thing...
                      And not the least bit spicy.
                      It's like they take a decent Seafood Fried Rice and toss in the XO condiment...
                      XO is, for those unfamiliar, a minced blend of dried fish or seafoods, combined with garlic, spices, chilis, & oil...
                      It adds a VERY special dimension to this fried rice dish...
                      When I order it at other places it always comes to me as seafood fried rice with the XO undetectable...

                      There's a seasonal dish at YH called 'Tomato Bass'....
                      It's special, really pretty, feminine, and kinda luxurious...
                      It's a corn starch thickened soup/stew with egg, beautiful ripe plum tomatoes, some vegetable matchsticks for texture (like jicama?) and soft white pillowy pieces of fish...
                      That's another one my wife went nuts over...
                      A visually beautiful dish, and delicious over rice...
                      I have a photo somewhere...

                      I'm a nose to tail guy when I have the rare opportunity, so on my first visit to the supposedly 'authentic' Yummy House, I looked for some weird stuff...
                      I asked for the Crispy Pork Chitterling and you heard the proverbial record screech...
                      She asked if I knew what it was, and I said yes even though I had no idea what form it would take...
                      I was told I was the only American who ordered that, even though I've seen a few since...
                      It turns out it's a 8-10" section of pig intestine that they clean, marinate, deep fry?, and slice into rings...
                      It was so toasty, and crispy, and pleasing, dipped in the sweet dipping sauce, with sweet pickled daikon and carrots as a lil' salad, that I ordered it every time I came in... I think if you have an open mind, and you like crispy toasty chicken skin you'd like this...
                      A few times the piece of pig intestine was larger and could have used more time in the fryer... When this happens it can get challenging and a lil' scary, because the inside stays a little rubbery and it forces you to think about what it is your chewin' on...
                      So now, I simply ask for it 'well done / extra crispy' and it comes out perfect every time no matter what...
                      When I tried this item at CY, ABC, and Chopstix, it was nowhere near as good...

                      Last thing for now is the duck...
                      I love duck----- and for years going to China Yuan I only got the duck because it was the only place I knew who had authentic Chinese Duck..
                      I really liked it, and still do 'like' it...
                      After the renovation I started ordering other things too...

                      Soon after I discovered Yummy House I tried a 1/2 duck and it was great also...
                      The skin was crispy and carmelized 'coffee-like', which became part of the juice that pooled at the bottom of the plate, something I smooshed the meat into...
                      It was an incredible duck experience------ but I was too embarrassed to ask them to bring me another 1/2 duck, so I paid my bill and drove 62 seconds to CY for the other half...

                      It tasted like Pepsi does after eating ice cream!

                      The flavors were so bold at the other place, comparatively this tasted undercooked and underseasoned...
                      It might not have been so noticable if I had the CY duck first...
                      Though the duck at YH hasn't been THAT good consistently...
                      Sometimes it's just like CY which is fine...

                      Maybe I'll think of some other things later..

                      1. re: Mild Bill
                        m
                        Miss E Oct 22, 2009 09:17 AM

                        Dude, your descriptions are poetry.

                        1. re: Miss E
                          Manderley Oct 22, 2009 12:32 PM

                          LOL, Miss E, you hit the nail on the head. Perfect!

                          1. re: Miss E
                            Mild Bill Oct 22, 2009 12:38 PM

                            Thank you for that...

                          2. re: Mild Bill
                            Manderley Oct 22, 2009 12:32 PM

                            holy cow....i'm really salivating now. wow i'm speechless. i am trying to control myself, and not run to the car to make a mad dash to Yummy House right this very instant, but first I want to print out your post and bring it with me so i can order each and every item you listed....

                        2. re: andy huse
                          m
                          Miss E Oct 20, 2009 08:50 PM

                          Here's what I love at YH, besides the S&P calamari:

                          -Scallops with Chinese Greens, BUT, you must ask for Chinese broccoli, or gai lan, or you will get boring bok choy. With gai lan, it sings. (I have never had a problem making this request, btw.)

                          -Grouper with XO sauce

                          -Spicy Seafood Pot with Tofu--to DIE. Very spicy, with chunks of fried tofu, whole shrimp and scallops, squid, whole garlic cloves, mushrooms, whole chillies, all in a rich dark brown sauce. On acold day, heaven.

                          -Fishermen's fried rice

                          -Shrimp in Garlic Wine Sauce, simple and mild but the shrimp are always sweet and fresh.

                          -Spicy eggplant--the usual, but well-done.

                          The only thing I have not liked is their spring rolls-- meh.

                          And in case you didn't notice, I don't eat meat. Andy, you in particular list a lot of beef dishes on your CY faves list--maybe avoiding those is why I was so underwhelmed?

                          1. re: Miss E
                            askdrtodd Oct 21, 2009 04:44 AM

                            ok fine, you sold me, I'll be going to yummy house in the very near future :)

                            1. re: askdrtodd
                              Manderley Oct 22, 2009 12:33 PM

                              take me with you!!

                      2. Mild Bill Oct 27, 2009 10:30 PM

                        Well, to get back to the proper thread topic, and to give China Yuan some props, I'll tell you about my lunch there today...

                        I was in the area and I found myself turning into the lot...
                        20 seconds before, I was on my way to the University Mall area....

                        I went easy, and only ordered Andy's recommendation of the Beef with Ginger & Scallions....

                        I LOVED it!
                        So much so, that I'm furious I didn't order one to go so I could have eaten it cold an hour ago when my wife went to sleep...

                        As Andy described, that brown sauce is special stuff....
                        The toasty ginger was sliced so thin I could easily eat lil' pieces here and there and its perfume or pepper wasn't overpowering...
                        Crisp perfect generous scallions were colorful and wonderful...

                        Often, at lesser places, with these 'beef & whatever' dishes, the beef is simply the wrong 'blah and chewy' beef!

                        Well, this was the right beef!
                        Damn...

                        Each component was so prime, that the dish was a downright celebration of those ingredients coming together------ with the white rice allowing me to leave a plate behind that they could pop right back on the shelf!

                        And the people were all so nice!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Mild Bill
                          a
                          andy huse Oct 27, 2009 11:08 PM

                          damn, Mild Bill, your descriptive powers are persuasive. the beef, ginger and scallion is still one of my very favorites.

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