Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything remotely related to food. Because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.
We usually try to keep food reviews within the Bensonhurst/Dyker Heights/Gravesend borders — and there are so many great cuisines in our area to choose from — but Bensonhurst does have a dearth of Middle Eastern restaurants, and this Yemeni spot on 5th Avenue was just too charming, unique, and full of far-away flavors to not report back on.
Yemen Cafe & Restaurant (7130 5th Avenue) is a low-key, family-run establishment in the heart of Bay Ridge that has been around since 1985.
On a recent visit we tried the Fahsah ($12.95) – a variation of Yemen’s national dish, Saltah – which involves super soft shredded lamb stewed with root vegetables and okra, served in clay bowl sizzling “volcano-style.” Accompanied by a side of flat bread for dipping, fahsah makes a small but hearty and richly spiced main dish.
Every table at Yemen Cafe comes with complementary lamb broths and salads to go around, as well as an endless supply of flat bread and tea. A side of chunky, hummus-y baba ghanoush ($8) added a cooling element to our thin and steamy soups and cackling bowl of hot meat. Honey-sweet tea-filled tin cups were the perfect complement to the hearty, rustic, richly-spiced Middle Eastern meal.
There is something fun and sensory and social about a sharing a meal that requires few utensils, and at Yemen Cafe, you can (literally) break bread with friends and dip away for hours on end. The tea refills and ample bread make Yemen Cafe the perfect lazy place to whittle away those long summer nights. The eatery’s close proximity to Bay Ridge bars, such as Bean Post Pub (no relation to Bensonhurst Bean), is also convenient if you like to end the night with a drink before heading home.
The best part of this hearty, shareable meal? The tab came out to just $20. We will definitely be back for more.
Visit Yemen Cafe & Restaurant at 7130 5th Avenue or call them at (718) 745-3000. Also, check them out on Yelp.