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Sunday, April 14, 2024 — Houston, TX

Pick Chinese at O'Yeah

By Seth Brown     2/22/12 6:00pm

O'Yeah Cafe offers food at cheap prices for students stuck at the Rice Memorial Center or without a meal plan – if they know how to ?order it.

My first time at O'Yeah, I was hungry enough to brave the entree line on what I later found out was the cafe's opening day. I bought peppered beef and kung pao chicken, staples of Americanized Chinese takeout. The chicken was too soft, and both the beef and chicken were heavily imbued with the slimy taste of mediocrity. My mouth was on fire after I accidentally ate one of the hot peppers that was deviously mixed in with the chicken.

A week later, I returned to O'Yeah, determined to beat the system and try the Chinese menu instead of just repeating my order from the previous week. The cafe has two menu posters flanking its restaurant counter. I pointed to the menu on the left, in which the only piece of information I could read was the price: $5 – a whole dollar cheaper than my meal the previous week. I took the styrofoam takeout box offered to me and went ahead to pay. When I asked the cashier what was in the box, I think he said something about eggplant but then changed his mind and just told me he could not translate it. The surprise food turned out to be scrambled eggs with tomatoes, pork and bamboo shoots, and a mix of pork and what seemed to be fat or some strange new vegetable that had been spiced-up for the benefit of my taste buds. There was also a lot of white rice – not an option for those ordering from the entree line. I hate tomatoes, but the food was otherwise decent – the pork and bamboo dish was not drowned in sauce, the eggs were a little soggy from sitting in the box but had kept well, and what there was of the spicy pork was not spicy enough to be traumatizing.

It's not clear to me why O'Yeah does not have an English translation of its Chinese menu, but you do not need to speak a word of Chinese to order off of it – just get in the line, and when you get to the front, say you want the box. O'Yeah's offerings vary based on the day of the week but seem to be fairly consistent from week to week, so as long as it keeps up the quality of its mysterious box meals, I'll keep frequenting them when I am stuck in the RMC.

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