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Cheap Eats / Yey’s Café

Attractive and affordable Cambodian food in University Heights



Babaw is a rice porridge topped with tofu scramble, bean sprouts, and salted soybeans.

Photos by kc kratt

 

Yey’s Café
3225 Main Street, Buffalo 
834-0980, yeyscafe.com

 

Spare but stylish, the latest addition to the University Heights restaurant scene is Yey’s Cafe. It has the feel of similar counter-service joints I’ve visited in hip Philadelphia and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The menu and the surroundings are a combination of simple and authentic, but also made for Instagram, with dark slate walls and bright, fresh vegetables. Yey’s serves Cambodian cuisine and features a vegan menu, a nonvegan menu, a build-your-own bowl menu, non-alcoholic beverages, and a few desserts.

 

 

We start with an order of seitan wings (chicken wings are also available), served in a red curry sauce. The spice level is an American medium—you can feel it, but not in a painful way. They’re served on a bed of shredded cabbage, which was nice and crisp but seemed more of a garnish than part of the dish. One of my friends noted she would have liked a cooling dipping sauce, but I thought they were fine as-is.

 

Seitan wings: Served on a bed of crisp shredded cabbage, these wings are hot, but not painfully so.

 

The favorite dish of our visit is the build-your-own bowl; we choose jasmine rice (greens and noodles are also available), carrots, daikon, cucumber, basil, peanuts, fried shallots, seitan, and the non-vegan fish sauce. We love the rice, and think all of the textures and flavors go well together. This is no doubt the most “American” option, kind of a Cambodian spin on a visit to Chipotle, so perhaps it’s no wonder we love it.

 

Build-your-own bowl: Start with a base of rice, noodles, or greens and augment with vegatables and proteins.

 

The pork belly num pang sandwich resembles the better-known-in-America Vietnamese banh mi. Like a banh mi, it’s stuffed with shredded crispy vegetables and a generous portion of meat, though the fat is not cooked long enough to fully caramelize.

 

The Babaw, a rice porridge dish with tofu scramble, salted soybeans, and bean sprouts, provides a welcome warm-up on this cold, rainy night. The ingredients require a thorough stir, to give the dish texture and crunch and to evenly distribute the saltiness of the soybeans.

 

Yey’s is open 2–8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 12–8 Saturday; and 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday.

 

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