Bayon Cafe

Nam Yaa Soup - Bayon Cafe

Nam Yaa Soup – Bayon Cafe

Cambodian chefs and cooks are masterful in the art of spice blending. Pungent spices such as clove, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric are typical in southeast Asian cuisine, but when expertly combined into pastes (aka kroeung) using native ingredients like galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves, the results are distinctly Cambodian!

In Rhode Island, Cambodian residents makes up the largest percentage of the Southeast Asian population. Approximately 85% of our Cambodian neighbors live in Providence and Cranston, so it should come as no surprise that excellence in Khmer cuisine is tempting the masses.

Cue Bayon Cafe, (ហាងកាហ្វេបាយ័ន) applause please! Hidden in plain view on Reservoir Ave is a wicked fine find. I wish  I could speak of accidentally stumbling across this unassuming little restaurant in my travels, but I was thankfully invited without fanfare.

Under the watchful eye of Chef Bopha, the shining star dish was the Nam Yaa Soup (curry, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and garlic). What Phở is to the Vietnamese, and Chicken Soup is to the Jews, Nam Yaa is the blissful and medicinal elixir that will cure what ails ya. With or without ramen, this bold flavored and spicy broth just made my day more memorable.

Grilled Salmon Fillet – Bayon Cafe

The Grilled Salmon Fillet, served with a sweet tamarind sauce was an excellent pairing. Salmon is often a stronger tasting fish and was successfully balanced with a sweet and savory element. Garnished so attractively on the plate, the dish was bright and inviting. In addition to the tamarind sauce, there is optional sauce – curry “Choo Chee.” I’m not sure what “Choo Chee” is, but it’s fun to say it out loud without getting in trouble.

Natang – Bayon Cafe

My absolute favorite was the Natang. Ground pork is a bland protein which requires thoughtful preparation in order for unique flavor profiles to be developed. The addition of coconut milk changes everything. As a person who does not enjoy coconut, Cambodian cooking makes me eat my words. Add in the crunchy rice crackers for dipping, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Bayon Wings

Of course you’ve had wings before, but have you tried the Bayon Wings? The wings are gently tossed in a mild lemongrass sauce and garnished with fresh jalapenos. The wings were crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy within.

Khmer Warriors

The Tuk Tuk Noodles (flat noodles stir fried with a protein, vegetables, egg, and a curry coconut sauce) were a standout in both taste and texture. I believe a Tuk Tuk is a type of  a small trailer pulled by a cyclist and a pleasant way of touring the Angkor temples in Cambodia. How this translates to a damn fine noodle dish is anyone’s guess.

The Bayon Cafe is simply appointed and noticeably clean. The service is attentive and warmly delivered.  The menu is ideally limited to that which Bayon can expertly prepare, and offers a reasonably affordable price point.

bayonI feel fortunate that there exists diverse populations and accommodating restaurants such as the Bayon Cafe in my neighborhood. Adventures in dining can only be made possible when there exists a need. When the dining public becomes accustomed to chain-food dining, the flavor profiles are reduced to salt and sugar. The cooking methods are reduced to frying, and landscape falls victim to a cookie cutter design. Nothing could be less interesting than this.

Head over to the Bayon Cafe, “tuk” in, order a large bowl of Nam Yaa, sit back and relax. Good things are likely…

Bayon Café | 745 Reservoir Avenue | Cranston, RI 02910 | 401-943-1728


Extra Info: Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia.


The Nook Coffee House

It’s never easy being the new Barista on the block is it? When your neighbors are Starbucks and Main Street Coffee, it can feel debilitating. It’s not like anyone kicked grinds in your face, but you feel small. The truth is that being new and small may have its advantages!

If I’ve learned anything as a consumer, it’s that similarity in product is often easy to find, but an excellent customer experience is not. When you can pair quality products with a memorable and enjoyable experience, then my friends, you’ve been to The Nook!

The coffee world is complicated. There are cup size decisions that require Rosetta Stone, and Java choices that demand Cliff notes on latte, espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, cortado, macchiato and even dirty chai (which quite frankly scares me).

Navigating this is all very exciting and generally satisfying, but to me, it all means nothing unless I can walk inside and feel welcome. At The Nook, the owner Shannon Wylie is reason why your experience will be a warm and inviting one.

Shannon’s pride is evident in every detail of her business, which includes the look and feel of the decor, the locally sourced coffee and tea products, and her infectious enthusiasm when developing relationships in the community.

I’m not sure whether Shannon is able to strike a perfect balance within the community because the business is small enough for her attentiveness to every detail, or just the fact that she’s so damn good at it, but in either case we benefit as consumers.

It is because of this that we should embrace The Nook as a welcome addition to Main Street East Greenwich, and feel fortunate that we may find something here that we don’t always get – a small town “hello” with our name attached to the end of it.

307 Main Street | East Greenwich, RI

Nook – Facebook

1150 Oak Bar & Grill

Review by Jay Costigan –  Special contributor to Fork in the Rhode

1150 Oak Bar & GrillDue to limited time, planning and a desire for a beer, I luckily found myself at the 1150 Oak Bar & Grill Wednesday evening. Being familiar with the group that formerly owned and operated the Rock Junction in Coventry, I assumed the quality of the food would stand the test of relocation.


1150 OB&G  maintains a respectable beer selection of about 12 on tap, as well as some varied bottle choices. I ordered my “go-to” Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA to help me think better as I perused their pub menu.

When narrowing down my burger selection to two, I made the only rational decision a foodie could make – by ordering them both! It made complete sense because why deprivation is not in my DNA. The first selection was the Oak  Burger;  a perfectly prepared medium, well seasoned  ground beef burger with bacon, Cajun mayo, onion rings and jack cheese. The other was their 50/50 Burger which combined ground beef and chorizo with red peppers and jalapeño mayo. The Portuguese gods were smiling down on me with this one! Both burgers were full flavored, juicy and grilled to the correct temperature. It is surprising that the issue of internal temperature  presents such a challenge to many chefs/cooks, but I’m happy to report that 1150 OB&G got it right!


All burgers are accompanied with a choice of fries or onion rings. Notably, the fries were freshly cut Idaho potatoes and well seasoned. The onion rings were even better; fried crispy, not greasy and tasty.


1150 Oak Bar & Grill has become my “go-to” place for affordable, quick and well prepared dinner on those crazy  Wednesday nights that I play chauffer to my kids while shuffling them through the city of Cranston.


Oh, did  I also mention that they book some pretty solid music acts? Check this venue out and bring friends!



1150 Oak Bar & Grill |1150 Oak lawn Ave|Cranston, Rhode Island|(401) 654-4466