Last week, the always entertaining People’s Daily website ran a series of photographs under the headline “Yao Restaurant opens in Shanghai.” The first Yao Restaurant opened in Houston, Texas, in 2005 — Yao Ming’s parents are part owners. The People’s Daily headline surprised us. We hadn’t heard anything about Yao opening up a place in Shanghai.
Perhaps that is because he isn’t.
A Shanghai Daily story from June suggests what the People’s Daily is calling the Yao Restaurant is really Yeeha, a big new place on Huashan Lu near Jing’an Temple that brashly advertises both “American Chinese Food” and “Texas BBQ.” The story says the restaurant’s owner is Yu Di, who is a major shareholder in the Houston restaurant. Yeeha will have a “similar menu” to the Yao Restaurant, but “the Yao family has no investment or involvement” in Yeeha. Yu said, however, that Yao “may attend” the grand opening, which would have been last week. We’re not sure if that happened, but Yao is in the country. Regardless, the People’s Daily photos of the restaurant show plenty of Yao memorabilia on display.
We’re not exactly sure what the backstory is here. We found this short story from March that named Yao as the owner of the then-under-construction eatery and mentioned plans to open another one in Beijing. They wanted Yao restaurants to become the “ideal place for Chinese people to taste the Yao-style American Chinese food,” because obviously Chinese people are just dying to to get their mouths on some American Chinese food.
In a February story, Yu made sure to refer to the Shanghai restaurant as a “cousin” of the one is Houston. The story added:
As Yu admitted, Yao’s parents haven’t made up their mind about investing in a restaurant back in their hometown. And if they don’t participate, the restaurant wouldn’t be able to boast the Yao name.
Hence, we end up with Yeeha. But, anyway, shouldn’t it be “Yeehaw”?
We haven’t yet been to Yeeha, although it is right down the road from Shanghaiist Headquarters — the combination of American Chinese food and Texas BBQ didn’t sound too appetizing. For what it’s worth, one person who did try it out described it as “ridiculous.” Have any readers checked it out? What did you think?