Very happy to say, the rumors are true; Yummy House serves authentic Cantonese Dim Sum and it is absolutely Yummy. I figure if they are going to call themselves such a goofy name, I can title my review with a goofy title. But you know, Yummy is exactly what to call this place, one of five Yummy Houses in Florida brought to us from John Zhao and Tommy Tang (great name, that last one…), restaurateurs from Toishan, China. Their mission, it seems is to first and foremost satisfy the customer, and yet to introduce authentic Chinese food that is not dumbed down for the Western palate. From a business perspective, you try to meet the public needs: if people are dumb and uncultured, serve them dumb and uncultured food. This is why some people think Taco Bell is Mexican cuisine. That’s how you make money. Judging from Zhao and Tang’s approach, they can serve authentic Cantonese, and illuminate the public to the wonderful techniques and flavors to be found on the East side. And for those unwilling to adapt, they don’t need them. Most of the customers were Chinese. I call that a very good sign of authenticity. My dining companion Kim Chalmers and I had heard the place was doing things right. To begin with, they turned an ass-ugly Kentucky Fried Chicken into a quaint efficient bright and comfortable bistro-style restaurant. We walk in, and everybody is geared up for business.
We were greeted immediately, as was every customer—seated—three servers visited our table making sure we were comfortable, had water & tea. The tables, menus, condiments, plastic chopsticks, glassware; absolutely clean! Then, the waiter with the cart of bite-size goodies rolls our way, and off we go. Bake roasted pork puff, Pan-fried turnip cake, Pan-fried chive dumplings, Pork shumai, Shrimp balls, Stuffed tofu, and an ample supply of quality green tea. Never did our cups run dry, never was the service lacking, this team is so tight and economical, it makes one really notice how grossly inadequate the service is in other restaurants and it makes one wonder why. There was a sense of ownership among the staff, a sense of raised stakes and attention to detail, and I dare say proud commitment; these servers and staff members know they have the quality, they’re proud of it, it shows, and they were even having fun (or so it absolutely seemed). All the Dim Sum choices were carefully explained to us with no sense of irony or being ‘schooled’. I just can’t go on enough about the amazing service. But in the end, we are talking about the food. Having had Dim Sum in some of the finest Dim Sum restaurants in the Little Chinas of both New York and Chicago, and Yummy House is the real deal. In those larger cities, perhaps you have the cutting edge of competition, but you are truly in an extremely busy raucous move-and-shake environment. It’s exciting and fun, but also noisy and a bit oppressive. Here, you are in a smaller properly run restaurant, and though it gets busy enough, it’s a small welcoming environment in which you can converse and take some time.
The Dim Sum was obviously meticulously prepared from scratch with fresh quality ingredients and the flavors pop. The tofu, which one might expect to have dried up in the cooking process was moist and silky. The shumai was filled with flavor, the dumplings came with a sauce-on-the-side, chilies so hot your toes curl (as I said, no catering to a bland typically Western palate—this is how it is done in China.) Of course you’re free not to dip, but I like my toes curled. We agreed the Bake roasted pork puff was our favorite, just fantastic! The dough was fresh and rich with all the lovely best buttery flavors of quality bread, then the pork hits, then the sweetness balances, then something like chestnuts rise up—this treat was evolving its flavors for a good full minute or so. Kim said it’s the quietest she’s ever seen me at a restaurant. Probably because try as I might to find fault, the only thing I could say was, ‘Yummy’. The restaurant expects to upgrade to a beer and wine license in the coming weeks. THERE! There’s one thing…I don’t like bottles of wine on display that I can’t drink until they get their license. (A triviality.) It's on the way!
For six items (both of us took home a box each of left-over Dim Sum, enough for two more people), and tea, it was about twenty-four bucks, not including tip. I think two people could eat here, get two ample Dim Sum lunch choices and tea, and walk out having paid around ten bucks for everything. My recommendation is to enjoy Yummy House with three or four people in your party. That way, everyone can enjoy the most variety for an extremely reasonable price. Yummy House is a most welcome addition to the Gainesville food scene, and I’m sure our Chinese friends are extremely happy to finally have some authentic Cantonese Dim Sum in town. This is how it’s done. Remember also to arrive early. They pack out, and they sell out of Dim Sum quickly, and then you’ll only have about fifty or so other quality dishes left to choose from at lunch-special and dinner prices. Ngaw bau laa!