Open a solid Asian restaurant in Austin, and I will appreciate you.
Open a solid Asian restaurant in Central Austin within a few miles of my house that is open until 10:00 p.m., and I will kiss your feet and throw rose petals on the path before you.
OK, maybe not. But I will eat there. Often. And I will be deeply grateful.
It was with high hopes that I darkened the doors of YaYa Cafe and Shaved Ice for the first time a few weeks ago. I sampled their spring rolls, a pork vermicelli bowl, and the wonton soup.
The spring rolls were a little on the soft side, which made them a little difficult to eat - they didn't hold together as well as I would've liked. But they were still a nice treat, and the accompanying peanut sauce laced with chili had just the right measures of both sweet and heat to keep things interesting.
The vermicelli was fresh and well-made. The pork had a nice char on it, and wonderful flavor. There was a fair amount of lettuce filler on the bottom, but the serving bowl was huge, so the portion was still plenty for me.
This wonton soup wasn't mine, but of course I tasted it anyway. The soup could've used a little bit more oomph, but the wonton skins were happily quite delicate, and avoided the coarseness often found in restaurant wonton. I was impressed.
A second visit ensued within the week. This time, I was there for lunch, and tried their iced tea. Jasmine in just the right measure mixed with a quality green tea had me swooning; I asked where they acquired it, and was told they import it from Hong Kong. I guess I'll have to come here to get my fix.
This time, I sampled my friend's cabbage salad. At first I thought it was too bland, but later bites revealed that it was just a little unevenly dressed, and the well-dressed bites were fresh and delicious.
I was pleased to discover that their banh mi also hold their own; clearly my favorites in the Central Austin banh mi landscape, although that field is admittedly painfully small.
YaYa's may not be a deeply authentic Vietnamese food experience, but the flavors I encountered here suggested to me that there is someone in the kitchen with a keen palate who cares about what's landing on the table in front of you. I feel quite sure that I'll be back frequently, and I'm thrilled that they've brought quality Vietnamese food to Central Austin.