Yo Yo, Where Did You Go Go?
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This hoard of meat and fritters sets you back only $7.
For 15 years, one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants was Yo Yo Fritaille, a Haitian spot on Nostrand Avenue somewhere south of Church. "Restaurant" is a bit of an exaggeration: The place consisted of a single large drafty room that looked like it might have been a dozen other things in the preceding 50 years. At the end was a steam table, and an old woman with a head scarf stood behind it. To say she was skeptical of me even being in the restaurant was an understatement, and I felt like I had to win her over every time I went.
The first Yo Yo, on Nostrand, now closed
But when I went back there to retest it for My 13 Favorite Brooklyn Restaurants, the place was closed up tighter than an oil drum -- the kind they use to make barbecue in these parts.
The specialty of Yo Yo Frittaile was fried things, but that doesn't begin to describe the wonderfulness of the food. Front and center was griot, fatty chunks of pork - before fatty was popular - marinated in a mixture of sour Seville oranges and shallots. The chunks were then boiled in the marinade until it disappeared, annealed to the surface of the meat. Then the chunks would be fried in the rendered fat, making them chewy and porky beyond your wildest dreams. You could get a whole box of the things for just a couple of dollars.
There were other specialties, too, among them pork sausage, fritters of various sorts, and fried goat, called tasso. The food was a perfect mixture of African and French sensibilities. I would go out into the street to eat, clutching a box of frittaile, poorer by only $5 or so. There was no place to sit at Yo Yo Frittaile.
As it turned out, that location was closed down, and eventually the eatery moved to Glenwood Road in the vicinity of Brooklyn College. Then that place shuttered, too. I thought it was gone for good, along with another frittaile spot on Church Avenue, Fritaille Lacaye. Was Haitian Fritaille gone forever from Flatbush?
The second place, on Glenwood, now closed
Next: Yo Yo's final resting place
The third location, currently open!
Then, researching a story on jerk chicken, I stumbled on a reborn Yo Yo, on Church Avenue at the corner of Rogers Avenue. The storefront was smaller than before, made even smaller by a guy selling bootleg DVDs right in front of the ordering window. A line of fritaille enthusiasts snaked through the space.
I tried the griot, the sausage, and the manioc and saltfish fritters called accra. All were excellent, and almost as cheaply priced as before: You can get an aluminum container for $7, or an even larger container for $10, both chock full of an assortment of your choice. The old lady was gone, but the place was staffed by an eager young crew, who don't care what you look like if you're passionate about fritaille.
Yo Yo Fritaille 826 Rogers Avenue Flatbush, Brooklyn 718-676-1637
Follow me on Twitter if you dare! -- @robertsietsema
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