Mohammed Yaseen’s menu, at his stand inside the West Side Bazaar (25 Grant St., 533-8558), is a brief lesson in the way Asian cuisines cross-pollinate to the delicious benefit of eaters.
Yaseen is one of seven or eight food operations inside the immigrant business incubator, selling dishes primarily aimed at their countrymen. Yaseen named his Exotic Japanese Crepes, even though he’s Burmese, and the thin, sweet pancakes seem rather French.
That’s because these particular treats are known as “Japanese” crepes in Thailand, where Yaseen cooked for six years after leaving Burma. Some are filled with a mixture of Indian-spiced chopped chicken, others with sweet stuff like Nutella, bananas, fruit jams or whipped cream.
If that’s not international enough, Yaseen also sells Pakistani-Indian snacks, including dosas, rice-batter crepes served with curried lentils and spicy chutney, and samosas, fried turnovers stuffed with a fragrant potato mixture.
To make the chicken crepe ($4.99), Yaseen spreads batter on his griddle. After it sets up, he cracks an egg onto it, and smooths it over the crepe as it cooks. The filling is boneless leg and thigh meat, seasoned with garam masala, cumin seeds, black pepper and more. He only uses halal meat, which is a better grade of chicken than standard poultry, Yaseen noted, as well as meeting Islamic dietary rules.
When it’s crispy at the edges, Yaseen folds the finished, golden brown crepe into a wedge for presentation.
Yaseen was originally settled in St. Louis as a refugee, where he worked in a sewing factory for a year, before finding work in a Pakistani restaurant. After he and his wife, Nojanbe, visited Niagara Falls, they decided to move to Buffalo when they found rents here about half what they paid in St. Louis, he said. They moved to Buffalo four years ago, and he opened the stand in December.
The couple is raising five children. He would have to sell a lot of crepes to support them, which is one reason he said he would like to open a restaurant of his own. “I have a big family,” he said with a laugh. “That’s why I need a bigger place.”
Wurstfest, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at Buffalo Riverfest Park, 249 Ohio St. Sausages and other German food along with live music, dancing and beer. Tickets $8 presale; $10 at the door. Visit www.buffalogermanband.com.
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