Chinese food is my ultimate comfort food. I’ll admit that might sound a little strange, but in my house, we didn’t do the “meat and potatoes” thing, and mac and cheese just never cut it. No, in my heart, there’s Chinese food—the heartache cure-all.
This love developed with a simple family tradition. Every Thanksgiving, among other special occasions in our half-Australian house, we order deliriously delicious and greasy Chinese food from our favorite restaurant and celebrate our family and our own traditions. It’s something I miss sorely.
But what is a girl far from home to do with such a hole in her emotional eating needs? Find a replacement in the West, that’s what. Yummy Café (1616 St Michael’s Drive, 466-1681) fills every expectation with an additional something new.
Inside, the walls are covered with small New Mexico-themed paintings. The color scheme is a comforting rusty red, and the relatively spacious dining area is well lit. A small golden cat waves its arm in salutation, and the staff kindly greets and seats us in one of the booths that line the walls. There is a bar located on the back wall, where people wait for take-out, and plenty of tables perfect for larger groups.
Some familiar meals on the menu stand out—always a good sign—and there is enough creative variation to suggest the chef takes pride in cooking. Also a good sign. All the entrees range from $8.95 to $15.95. There’s a special lunch menu (Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-2:30 pm) with prices from $7.95-$9.95. Although it’s not the cheapest Chinese food I’ve had, I’m more than comfortable with the prices.
After some deliberation, we settle on steamed chicken dumplings ($5.95), gold coin beef ($14.95), a chef’s special and good ol’ General Tso’s chicken ($10.95). We order some jasmine tea ($2), served hot and almost immediately, and we sip as we wait.
Every table seems to be laughing and enjoying themselves, and my boyfriend and I chat contentedly as well. The dumplings come first, served in a bamboo steamer with dipping sauce in a small side platter. They are wonderfully tasty, and the sauce complements the meat and steamed lettuce bed perfectly. Next, our two entrees arrive and we’re pleased again with the presentation, which is neat, clean and appetizing. A medium-sized pot of fluffy white rice is served on the side—it’s more than enough for both of us. The food is, well, yummy. Matt and I have significantly different palates; we tend to gravitate toward opposite extremes, but we’re both satisfied and feel no need to further season our food. The gold coin beef—thin pieces of meat served on one giant scallion pancake—is both savory and spicy, and the flavors of the oniony pancake mix well with it. The General’s chicken is juicy, sweet and all we’d hoped it would be.
We both leave happy and full, with a small box of leftovers as well as a mental list of dishes to try next time, and favorites to order for our next take-out night.
The friendly service, the large portions and warm atmosphere make Yummy Café the perfect place for families or groups of friends. There are also several healthy options for those with dietary concerns (dishes can be served with sauce on the side or steamed instead of fried vegetables); though overall, the food is not what I would describe as salty or greasy. Sure, the prices here might be a little higher than some of its counterparts, but the quality of the food and the preparation is not something you’ll find at just any Chinese joint.
As far as my comfort food needs go, the food lives up to all three of my requirements: 1) warm 2) filling, and most of all, 3) so yummy, you can’t wait to order it again.
11 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday; 11 am- 9:30 pm Friday;
4-9:30 pm Saturday; Sunday 4-9 pm