Mellow Yelo

Houston restaurant stars unite to launch colorful new Vietnamese cafe

Houston restaurant stars unite to launch colorful new Vietnamese cafe

Cuc Lam Alex Au-Yeung Yelo
Cuc Lam and Alex Au-Yeung will say hello to Yelo. Photo by Kimberly Park

A Vietnamese take on the all-day cafe is coming to Katy. Chefs Cuc Lam (Sing) and Alex Au-Yeung (Phat Eatery) have united to open Yelo, an all-day cafe that will serve banh mi and other Vietnamese dishes. 

Slated to open later this summer next to Phat Eatery in the Katy Asian Town development, Yelo (styled all-caps YELO by its proprietors) will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu will focus on banh mi in both traditional forms such as lemongrass beef and barbecue pork as well as new takes that might include Malaysian-style beef rendang or a Vietnamese take on a French dip with pho broth for dipping.

“Yelo is a celebration of Southeast Asian food,” Lam said in a statement. “The color yellow inspires, uplifts, illuminates and offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. That’s our mission at Yelo. Through recipes from countries like Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand, we want to share the delicious and bold flavors that we love on a simple baguette.”

In addition to sandwiches, Yelo will offer familiar Vietnamese such as vermicelli bowls, egg rolls, and shrimp chips. Plans also call for a sophisticated coffee offering that will include café sua da, egg coffee, and yogurt coffee. 

The restaurant's design will take its inspiration from the classic American diner. An open kitchen and a sushi-style counter are elements Lam wanted to include after working at both Bravery Chef Hall and Politan Row.

"I’ve seen the benefits of seating that allows staff to interact with customers and vice versa,” she added. “I also think guests are interested in seeing what’s going on behind the scenes." 

Both chefs bring extensive experience to the project. Lam opened the short-lived (but well-regarded) Singaporean restaurant Sing in 2018. Au-Yeung's Phat Eatery earned a spot on CultureMap's list of Houston's Top 100 restaurants for its creative Malaysian fare and warm service. Recognizing the potential for a high-quality banh mi restaurant in Katy, Au-Yeung recruited Lam to the project.

"The only person I would consider is Cuc Lam," Au-Yeung said. "If she wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it."

Good thing she said yes.