T.C. Choy’s Asian bistro is well worth the trip to Tampa.
By Judi Gallagher
After hearing for months of a Sarasota migration to T.C. Choy’s in the Hyde Park area of Tampa (301 S. Howard Ave.; 813-251-1191). we decided to head north this weekend and were rewarded with some of the best dim sum we’ve ever had—and we’re accustomed to dim sum weekends in Boston and New York’s Chinatown!
Great plates: Some of the dim sum at T.C. Choy's
Dim sum is the artful brunch/lunchtime Chinese tradition of serving small plates and steamer baskets right off the pushcarts that roam the dining room. Shrimp Shi Mai, Shanghai-style pork dumplings and the staple of dim sum dining, baked BBQ pork sweet buns (T.C. Choy’s may be the best I have ever tasted) are only a few of the choices. Small plates are only $3.50, and our party of four people left completely satisfied for about $80.
Larger portions include roast duck, Chinese broccoli with brown sauce, fried calamari, and steamed clams with oyster sauce and stir-fried vegetables. Chinese sausage sticky rice steamed in lotus leaves was one of our table’s favorites, while the shrimp and spinach dumplings were as wonderful as our second round of baked pork buns. Dim sum is served daily from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and on weekends from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The trick here is to arrive on a weekend by 11:30; they do not take reservations and there was a waiting line out the door by the time we left (we spotted several Sarasotans in the crowd). The dinner menu, served nightly from 5:30 p.m. also looks inviting.
T.C. Choy’s is about a 70-minute drive from Sarasota.
A great food find just down South Howard is Whaley’s Market—remember to bring an empty cooler with freezer packs for when you finish your Chinese feast. We could not resist the aroma as we drove down South. Howard. Smoked cedar-planked salmon, BBQ ribs and smoked prime rib were skillfully being tended to in a giant outdoor grill as we pulled into the parking lot.
It's Smokin'! Tending the grill at Whaley's Market
The produce is fresh and plentiful, but the meat cases and prepared foods are what sent me over the edge: Porterhouse steaks, lean and meaty country ribs, and chicken Cordon Bleu and baked stuffed potatoes looked so fresh and inviting that my cart filled with record speed.
Whaley’s Market is at 533 S. Howard (813-254-2904). Do not miss this corner of Tampa I have now dubbed “Foodie’s Paradise.”
Do you have any out-of-town discoveries you’d like to share? Please tell us about them by posting a comment, below.