143 Grand Street, near Lafayette St
Last Friday night, the clichéd expression “don’t believe everything you read” took on a new importance for me. All week long I had coveted the online menu for a new Vietnamese small-plates restaurant named Bun Soho — in fact, this was the most excited I had been by a menu in quite awhile. I often find that places seem to be doing variations of the same dishes (i.e. stuffed meatballs, black cod with miso, fish wrapped in pork, heirlooms salads depending on season, etc.) This is not to say that I don’t enjoy these dishes, but rather than I have been yearning for something out of the box — a menu that might inspire me to go down to Chinatown on a rainy evening for example. I had sent the innovative menu to my friend Jeena, and after much talk about the pig brain ravoli, I was able to reel her in to going there for dinner last week.
New York Magazine, amongst others, had mentioned that Bun opened on October 22nd. After getting soaking wet on our walk from the subway, we walked into the restaurant to find the manager sitting at one of the tables. He told us that they would not actually be open until the following Thursday, November 1st. After learning that we had traveled a great distance in inclement weather (ok, we actually came from the west village), the manager offered us a glass of wine. My boyfriend joined us a few minutes later and was also poured a glass. We were already amazed by the welcome we were receiving when the chef himself came out with a plate of delicious wild boar blood sausages, which were served with a ginger apple puree and pomegranate syrup. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality, and if that weren’t enough, chef Michael Bao Huynh stayed to chat with us for the better part of an hour about his career and his new place.
Huynh, the son of an architect and restaurateur, is also known as "The Architect Chef" for his attention to the design of each of his restaurants. He is the chef/partner of Mai House in Tribeca as well as Bun. The restaurant’s design is both sleek and inviting, and includes a standing section at the bar where the guests can watch his wife Thao Nguyen make rice noodle dishes or the “bun” portion of the menu. Huynh will attend to the innovative Vietnamese tapas closer to the main bar. When pressed to reveal his favorite dishes, Huynh mentioned the Mind of Pork Ravoli with golden chives, bottarga, and lemongrass prawn coral sauce ($10) and the Nem of Duck and foie gras with pineapple relish, lettuce wrap, anchovy sauce ($12). With an exciting menu and such a warm welcome, I am bound to return soon.
We are off to Rome-- I am sure to post about this when I return!