IOWA CITY — The menu at Yummy Restaurant doesn’t limit itself to one kind of cuisine. Visitors can try Thai ice cream, Japanese ramen, Taiwanese milk tea or Chinese noodle soup — and if none of that appeals, they can hit the buffet.
Amy Huang and her husband, Andy Chen, opened the restaurant with a friend, Jakie Huang, in December. Amy Huang and Chen previously owned two restaurants in New York before Jakie Huang encouraged them to give Iowa City a try.
Jakie Huang’s entire family lives in Iowa, and she told her friends Iowa City’s large international student population would make it a good place to open a restaurant.
But they didn’t want to appeal just to Chinese students, Amy Huang said. Instead, the focus is on just serving tasty food from across Asia — thus the restaurant’s name, Yummy.
“Here, students are from different places,” Amy Huang said. “We wanted everybody together to come to our restaurant. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, American, everyone should feel comfortable.”
As customers enter the shop, the first thing they see is the Thai ice cream counter, where a variety of candies and fruit are ready to be mixed into ice cream on a cold block, then carefully rolled up and stacked with more toppings in a dish.
“We know young people like dessert,” Amy Huang said. “And students want fast service.”
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Amy Huang, who moved to the United States when she was in high school. She returns to Asia once a year. Sometimes she detours to places where she can learn different cooking skills. For example, she went to Thailand to learn the ice cream technique. On another trip, she studied milk tea in Taiwan where the restaurant imports its tea from.
Amy Huang’s favorite bubble tea on the menu is brown sugar bubble milk tea.
“When the brown sugar and red tea mix together, I really like the flavor,” she said.
She also has family in China who opened a cafe with desserts, drinks and smoothies. All of those can be found on Yummy’s menu.
Yummy also serves fresh fruit juice, tea, smoothies, and fruit and yogurt. Those with a sweet tooth also can try desserts like sweet rice soup and mango pudding.
On the savory side is ramen, which Chen learned how to make in Japan, and cross bridge noodles. A specialty of Yunnan province in southwest China, the dish features hot chicken broth, rice noodles and a variety of other ingredients, which are traditionally stirred into the broth at the table.
“It’s popular throughout China. It reminds people of their home,” Amy Huang said.
At the back of the restaurant, a hot buffet line holds more options for diners. She said they hope to add a sushi bar in the future.
Amy Huang said her favorite part of managing the restaurant is seeing customers enjoy a dish.
“If somebody says, ‘Oh, this tastes very different. Oh, this tastes so good,’ it makes me so happy,” she said. “I want everybody to come in here and say, ‘Oh, yummy!’ ”
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If You Go
• What: Yummy Restaurant
• Where: 119 E. Washington St., Iowa City
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
• Details: (319) 569-2989