Photos by Kelly Sue Photography
Yummy Yummy restaurant is a rare and surprising culinary find. Located in Willis, just off of I-45 in the Kroger shopping center, the restaurant boasts the only Mongolian barbecue and sushi bar in the area. Walking in from the parking lot of the bustling strip center, I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected elegance and coziness of the eatery. With its sophisticated ambiance, coupled with affordable lunch and dinner prices, Yummy Yummy is a refreshing break from the ordinary dining experience.
The restaurant has another location of the same name in Huntsville, and a sister restaurant, Wild Ginger, in Conroe. General Manager Angie Cochran-Murphy started at the Wild Ginger location but, as a resident of Willis for over 20 years, she was thrilled to be able to manage Yummy Yummy since its opening in February of 2013. Cochran-Murphy says, “The Willis area is growing quite a bit. I like the location. I try to compete with the prices of area drive-thru restaurants, while providing a healthier choice than a hamburger and fries. Our restaurant has a nice, family-oriented, dine-in environment that is still economical.” I asked about the differences between Wild Ginger and Yummy Yummy. “Wild Ginger is a larger location with hibachi tables. It is more of an up-scale location for special occasions or business lunches. Here at Yummy Yummy, we are scaled down and more of a fast-paced restaurant for family dining.”
When asked about the unusual name of the restaurant, I was told that the old Chinese symbol of their logo literally means “Eat our food” and the name Yummy Yummy naturally progressed from that. “It was to attract people to good food,” says Cochran-Murphy.
The food served at Yummy Yummy is unique in that everyone creates their own meal or “bowl.” Mongolian barbecue is a patron-prepared stir fry. Cochran-Murphy explains, “You come in, select your meat, select your vegetables, sauce, and whatever dry seasoning you would like. You can watch it being prepared on our grill, and then it will be brought to your table. We also offer zucchini and cabbage as starch substitutes. We do our best to cater to those with certain food allergies. There is a separate grill that we don’t allow any shellfish to touch. When deciding on our menu, we wanted to have something for everyone and also offer some healthier choices. Our bowls are $7.95 at lunch and $8.95 at dinner.”
Besides the Mongolian barbecue, Yummy Yummy also serves a variety of sushi. The sushi is made by order, and you can see it being prepared at the sushi bar. There is the standard fish and rice sushi, hand cut Sashimi sushi, special rolls, regular rolls and featured item rolls. Cochran-Murphy says, “We are absolutely famous for our red lobster rolls. It’s like a little slice of heaven in your mouth. We also serve hot appetizers and salads. And if you don’t have time to come in and sit down, all our food is available for take-out.”
The restaurant has a full bar and offers happy hour specials. In fact, there are three different happy hours. The regular Happy Hour is from 2 to 6 pm on Monday through Saturday, Reverse Happy Hour from 9 to 11 on Friday and Saturday nights only, and Sunday is an all day Happy Hour. They serve many bar specials, specialty drinks, and house wines.
Cochran-Murphy stresses that the restaurant is very community-oriented. “Being from the area, I know so many of our customers personally, and we offer special discounts to almost everyone. There are discounts for students if they show their student IDs, or even if they just dress in purple WildKat clothing. We like to make it fun. We are constantly doing specials and taking care of our customers.” There are also discounts and specials for teachers, as well as for military veterans. Every Tuesday night from 4 p.m. is $6.50 Custom Bowl Night. Like pictures of family, their Facebook page is full of pictures of happy customers celebrating birthdays or just enjoying good food together. You can also find out about their current specials.
Yummy Yummy is available for private parties. “We do catering on some of our bowls, our sushi, and our sashimi. We’ll come and set it up. Our restaurant is also available for parties. We’ll cater anything from a family function to anything.” Cochran-Murphy likes to tell about the private party they held for Texas governor Greg Abbott.
Manager Cochran-Murphy tries hard to keep the family feel of the restaurant. “We have a great team, from management to staff of about 15-20 employees. We have recently re-vamped our staff in order to stay an upbeat, happy family restaurant. We aim to please everyone and make sure they are satisfied before they leave our restaurant.” Whatever they are doing, it works. From an online customer review, “You can load your own bowl with whatever you want from the vast array of fresh food. I like the fact you can put as much of whatever you like and season it to your taste. Pretty simple to get the flavors you want and have a cook prepare it for you. Here you get more than you can eat for a great price. They also have a full bar, all this hidden in a little storefront setting.”
Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm, Yummy Yummy is unlike any other restaurant in the Willis area. As patron Brandi Douglass says, “They have great service in a comfy atmosphere. Amazing fresh stir fry cooked to your liking; I would recommend Yummy Yummy to anyone!” So if you want a unique family-friendly atmosphere with good, affordable food then stop in for a bit. Take it from their website, “We invite you to join us and experience the thrill of our Mongolian grill.”
Sunday – Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday – Saturday 11am-11pm