Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ya? Ya! YaYa Cafe and Shaved Ice

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.


  1. Do you think they'd be interested in an Edina location?? YUM!

  2. Great write up! I've eaten here a grand total of two times and was pleased. I agree with best in Central Austin and field is way too small. I miss North Austin's banh mi's but now I live literally across the street from Yayas.

    I see you soon!

  3. Loved your commentary! Another place for us to try next time we're in town.

  4. Sad I am not still in Austin to try this!! Looks pretty darn good!

  5. yum. banh mi in the hood. i will be on that action 2morrow.

  6. YaYa for good Vietnamese food in Central Austin. I must look it up post-haste!

  7. On your recommendation I ate here twice this week! I am beside myself that an excellent (combination!) bahn mi is close enough to be "in the 'hood!"

    On the first visit I shared the smallest size of the shave ice (green tea ice cream + strawberries) with a large man and we only managed to eat half, but it was excellent.

    On the second visit I ordered a jasmine milk tea with boba and the server asked me, "from 1 -10 how sweet do you want it?" Coulda kissed him right there, and they nailed my "2 please."


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