Little Havana is underrated. But there are some who recognize the neighborhood's potential: it's centrally located, minutes away from Brickell, the Grove, South Beach, downtown, and Wynwood, and it's also picturesque and not overrun with Sally Jesse Raphael spectacles and lumberjack beards.
We guess Mr. Yum's proprietor realized that offering locals an alternative to the Latin fare served on Calle Ocho might be a good idea.
Such foresight is no surprise when you consider that founder Bond Trisransri's parents opened the Sushi Rock restaurants on South Beach and Las Olas Boulevard. His providence should come as no surprise; it's in his DNA.
But location isn't the only thing that sets Mr. Yum apart. The restaurant also serves really good food. Well-prepared and tasty Japanese and Thai fare are the reasons that it has become popular. Add reasonable prices, and it's no wonder that Mr. Yum's is hot in a neighborhood where Latin cuisine and fast food reign.
"It's actually a good Asian restaurant," says Larry Galvez, a local businessman who visits Mr. Yum about twice a month. "But people tend not to believe me because it's in Little Havana. I've had to convince friends and business associates to dine there, but once I do, they all come back on their own. If Mr. Yum's was in Coral Gables or South Beach, the dishes would cost twice as much, easy."
Appetizers run between $5.95 for items such as gyoza, and $15.95 for costlier items such as hamachi jalapeño, thinly sliced yellow tail snapper with jalapeño, red tobiko, and ponzu sauces. There are a variety of Thai and Japanese lunch specials ($10.95) that include soup, such as chicken in basil sauce, massaman curry, salmon teriyaki, and sushi combos. Dinner options ($13.95 to $24.95) include beef panang curry, crab fried rice, beef drunken noodles, and lobster pad Thai.
While we're more than willing to eat at any of the mom and pop taco stands, Nicaraguan fritangas, or ubiquitous Cuban cafeterias around the neighborhood, it's refreshing to find a clean, minimally decorated, and inexpensive spot that serves pleasant-tasting Asian fare in Little Havana.
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As former New Times food critic Lee Klein once said, "Mr. Yum is one sweet spot to eat. In fact, when it comes to clean, fresh Thai and Japanese food in a clean, fresh setting, Yum's the word."
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