For many years, Fortune Cookie, a Chinese restaurant located at 4170 Lafayette St. in Marianna, was packed full of customers daily.

Many were disappointed when the restaurant closed. Last year, a new restaurant opened at the same location, with a new name. If you liked Fortune Cookie, you will love Ume.

From childhood, Sam Hsieh dreamed of managing his own restaurant in the United States. In 1993, he became a citizen and started working at the China Star in Dothan, Alabama. According to Sam, “It was a great opportunity to study the art of food preparation and restaurant management.”

It didn’t take Sam long to learn, because less than six years later, he and his beautiful wife Wendy purchased the House of You from their best friends James and Judy You. The Fortune Cookie opened its doors in 1999 and featured delicious Chinese cuisine, buffet style. This husband-and-wife business partnership had a regional draw until the restaurant closed in 2015.

In 2017, the couple decided to reopen the restaurant at the same location, but with a new name and a new menu.

Ume, pronounced OO-mĕ, is a particular type of Japanese apricot or plum. The ume blossom is also a symbol for spring in Japan. Ume features menu dining with Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Sushi and hibachi menu items are available along with your favorite Chinese dishes. Sam recommends Sesame Chicken, which is deep-fried chicken breast cooked in a secret Chinese sauce and served over rice. He also recommended a Hot Skillet, which features lobster, steak, shrimp and chicken served with stir-fried vegetables and rice. Sam explained that the tuna and eel sushi rolls are frequently requested. However, he was quick to promote their lobster roll, which is lobster and cream cheese wrapped in soy paper. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, maybe you should try their fried Mardi Gras roll, which has spicy tuna, crawfish, shrimp, jalapeño pepper and cream cheese. 

Sam and Wendy have lived with their family in the area since 1993. While Sam was originally from Taiwan, Wendy lived in California. They met when she was visiting a friend in Fort Walton Beach and married in 1995. Their son lives in Texas and will be opening a Chinese restaurant next month. 

Shop locally, support Marianna businesses and visit Sam and Wendy at Ume, 4170 Lafayette Street, and enjoy a delicious meal with your family. For more information, call 850-526-3735. Ume is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.  Visit the City of Marianna’s website at to learn more about new businesses.  Shop locally and support Marianna businesses.

Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.

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