Where in the Hudson Valley can you find authentic Asian cuisine and a hip noodle bar in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere? With three locations in Woodstock, Kingston, and now Red Hook, in addition to a food truck and catering service, Yum Yum Noodle Bar is that place, and it lives up to its delicious and fun name.
Featuring Japanese noodle bowls, Southeast Asian street food, and Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, Yum Yum is a dining destination for fresh, healthy food, fast service, and well-crafted beverages at affordable prices. Yum Yum co-owner and Executive Chef Erica Mahlkuch, winner of the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen in 2014 (Season 3, Episode 6), feels at home in a busy kitchen. “It was really fun to be on the show,” says Erica. “After owning restaurants and working in kitchens for so long, you think quick naturally.”
Erica’s restaurant experience includes 23 years of thinking fast on her feet in the kitchen. Erica moved from Virginia to the Hudson Valley to open Sabroso in Rhinebeck, which featured Latin world cuisine. The restaurant was open from 2005 to 2010. “Once I came here, I just fell in love with the mountains, the rivers, the food, and the farms. It reminds me of Virginia. It immediately felt like home to me,” she says. Since 2010, Yum Yum Noodle Bar has been the focus of Erica’s attention. In 2013, Nicole Cawley joined her and started handling the financial aspect of the business. She officially became co-owner in 2015.
Yum Yum Noodle Bar is a dining destination for fresh, healthy food, fast service, and well-crafted beverages at affordable prices.
“It’s a fun, whimsical place; hip. Where you can bring the kids but also go on a date, have a cocktail, sit and eat, and run into friends.” –Nicole Cawley, co-owner
A former weekender from Manhattan, Nicole left New York City and the world of corporate finance to make her home in the Hudson Valley. “I spent the bulk of my career as a corporate banker. I did debt and equity financing for media, telecom, and entertainment companies and for a variety of financial institutions. I lived through the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and decided to change my life.” Changing her life took Nicole to The Culinary Institute of America, graduating with an associate’s degree in 2011.
“I was looking for a way to combine my financial expertise with my interest in restaurants and cooking,” says Cawley. “Yum Yum was looking for someone who could put their financial infrastructure in place.” She adds, “I love the Hudson Valley. It’s really like a dream come true for me to make that move and be a full-time resident up here.” “People would talk about what was missing in town and what would be different. It’s healthy, interesting, and fulfills a need,” says Erica.
Indeed, Yum Yum ethically sources all of their food and is mindful of their customers’ dietary concerns. “We use clean, good ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and accommodate allergies and dietary preferences—vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free,” says Erica. “We make just about everything from scratch, in house. We buy fresh produce daily.” Eggs and certain types of mushrooms are bought from local farms and foragers, while Asian specialty ingredients, not necessarily grown locally, are derived fresh from authentic sources. “All of our fish items are responsibly farmed. We check into where everything comes from. We are very conscientious about what we put on our menu,” adds Erica.
“We use clean, good ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and accommodate allergies and dietary preferences—vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.” –Erica Mahlkuch, co-owner
Noodle bowls offer a choice of ramen, rice, soba, or udon noodles, in a broth such as coconut/curry, pork/chicken, or dashi/miso, with a protein of choice—vegetarian or not. Other standards on the menu include Korean Tacos, Vegetable Pad Thai, Bibimbap, and a Grassfed Burger with Kimchi. Check the specials board for the Daily Wrap and dishes like Red Curry Fish Stew with jasmine rice, lime, and cilantro. “The flavor profiles are so vibrant,” says Nicole.
Yum Yum also has a food truck—Yum Yum on Wheels—that provides a travelling sample of their specialty cuisine, suitable for festivals and private catering. “On the catering side, people have become much more open to having Asian food for weddings,” says Nicole. “A lot of people who don’t know about us see the food truck,” says Erica.
“It gets us out there. It’s a very beautiful truck with a cherry blossom-and-silhouette motif. It’s eye-catching.” The restaurant employs about 20 workers at each of their three locations. “It does feel like a family. For us, it’s 24/7. In the restaurant business, it has to be,” says Nicole.
“We keep the business our number-one priority,” says Erica, “not just for ourselves, but for others who rely on us for steady employment.”
Erica says that their challenges are the ones common to small business owners, such as the increasing cost of insurance and rents. “We have our ups and downs, but, all in all, we’re very happy with everything.”
Yum Yum generously supports Family of Woodstock and the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UCSPCA), among others. Fun, fresh, affordable, and diverse, it’s no mystery why Yum Yum Noodle Bar has quickly become a prominent restaurant in the Hudson Valley.
Yum Yum Noodle Bar is open from 11:30am to 10pm daily, 7 days a week.
4 Rock City Road
275 Fair Street
Red hook (new!)
7496 South Broadway