Phuc Yea! Vietnamese Restaurant to Pop Up September 8

Photo by Daniel Treiman
A sample of what the fare at Phuc Yea!, an upcoming modern Vietnamese pop-up restaurant, will look like.
It's like something out of a Food Network reality drama; at 3 p.m., a daytime eatery flips the 'closed' sign, and three young chefs and restaurateurs frantically transfer paintings from some hidden space to the restaurant's walls. They drape gauzy, makeshift curtains over the windows, strip and re-dress the tables, and drag art installations to the corners of the room. They haul sprouts, rice paper wraps, pork bellies and lemon grass from the back of the walk-in, where they're nestled beside the European cheeses and meats that belong to the daytime eatery. And the dapper semi-celebrity host laughs, "The word popup makes it sound so easy, doesn't it?"

This is a dramatization of what Phuc Yea! (pronounced fook-yay, but who's seriously gonna call it that?) -- a new temporary "restaurant installation," or pop-up restaurant -- will look like. It's coming September 8 for dinner five days a week to the space Crown Bistro (19 SE Second Ave., in the northwest corridor of the Ingraham Building) uses to dole out its gourmet sandwiches to the lunch crowd. The fruit of collaboration among Anièce Meinhold (front of house, sommelier), Cesar Zapata (head chef, formerly of Blue Piano), and Daniel Treiman (chef with New York schooling and experience and Short Order contributor), Phuc Yea! will bring a progressive rendition of southeast Asian cuisine in an experimental dining environment.

Treiman was buying soup spoons in a restaurant supply store in Manhattan when Short Order caught him for a phone interview.

"We're trying to do something different by offering the pop-up experience," he said. "The whole draw is the urgency of it. It's gonna disappear at some unknown time in the near future. Ideally we'll do it for two or three months, and then if it keeps going, it keeps going."

Daniel Treiman
Crown Bistro, the restaurant Phuc Yea! will inhabit by night, pre-hip fly-by-night renovation.
​The rotating menu will be broken into three parts, by plate size. The "1 - một" section includes a selection of fresh and fried rolls wrapped in moistened rice paper with various fillings. The Cha Gio ($6) are imperial rolls filled with pork, crab, shrimp, glass noodles, while the Thit Bò Kho ($6), or "Viet Cowboy Snack," comes filled with beef jerky, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds.

"We're doing these summer rolls, which is something that people are familiar with," Treiman said, "but we're going to use some ingredients that are other than the traditional poached shrimp, so even though people may have had them before, these might have something in there that they've never tried."

The next level, "2 - hai," will focus on appetizers meant for sharing. Examples include the Ca Com Chien Don ($12) is a fish 'n chips dish with crispy smelts, jalapenos, and lemon aioli. Heo Xao Chua Ngot ($9) consists of sweet 'n sour chicharrones, crispy pork belly, pineapples, pickled onions, and red bell peppers. And the Goi Du Du ($9.50) is a green papaya salad with roasted pork, cherry tomatoes, roasted peanuts, and shrimp chips.

"The papaya salad is something I could eat every single day of my life," said Treiman. "Just the whole idea of Vietnamese food is that it's nice and light, as opposed to Chinese, which is often kind of greasy."

Finally, the "3 - ba" section will offer larger dishes inspired by the lettuce wrap. Roasted proteins like Whole Fried Snapper (MP), Crispy Duck Confit ($22), and BBQ Brisket ($18) come wrapped up in fresh herbs, homemade pickles and crisp greens.

Now back to the drama of creating and un-creating a completely different restaurant by night in an established daytime eatery.

"We haven't even started trying to decorate it, but we're going to try and get some curtains and art work and things that aren't too hard to take down, so we can totally transform the ambiance into something where people will want to hang out and try a bunch of things that maybe they never have before," said Treiman. "So we're going to make a lot of trips to IKEA and see what we can do with a limited budget. In line with the whole pop-up thing, we're trying not to spend too much money on that stuff, because of course it's gonna get trashed or re-purposed at the end."

Phuc Yea! will open at 5:30 pm. September 8 and serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday till sometime in November.

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Eleanor Hoh
Eleanor Hoh

Congrats!  I didn't realize Daniel was going to be involved.  Can't wait to try this Friday. 



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