Phuc Yea! Pop-Up at Khong River: Jellyfish Salad, Chicharrones, and More (Photos)
A vibrant purple eggplant drenched in a sweet and tangy vinaigrette was an off-menu surprise but easily one of the best bites of the entire night.
All photos by Carla Torres
Last night, adventurous eaters and fans of the beloved pop-up Phuc Yea! gathered at Khong River House and rejoiced Vietnamese food over a lovely meal packed with surprises and a wine pairing for each course.
As part of 50 Eggs' Guest Chef Series and the resurrection of Phuc Yea!, Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold were tapped to tease fans who can't wait with some staples and some totally new and inventive dishes. Short Order was invited to attend the sold out event at Khong River. Photos after the jump.
Before dinner got started, the 100 guests eagerly awaited part of Phuc Yea!'s revival with some drinks by the bar and chatted about the dishes they miss most since the pop-up closed in 2011. One that kept coming up in several conversations seemed to be the Heo Xao Chua Ngot, or sweet 'n' sour chicharrones, crispy pork belly, pineapples, pickled onions, and red bell peppers.
Once everyone was sat family style, with some familiar and some new faces, the evening got started. Aniece and Cesar, as well as 50 Eggs culinary director Clayton Miller and Khong executive chef Ricky Suri, spoke about the meal to come and thanked everyone in attendance. "I always get so excited when people come have Vietnamese food," said Aniece Meinhold. "It makes me really happy, so thank you everyone."
Then it was time for eating, and drinking.
A platter included two rolls -- Cha Gio (a favorite from Phuc Yea!) and Bo Bi. Cha Gio is the imperial roll most people have come to know when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. Packed with crab, pork, shrimp, black fungus, glass noodles, and nuoc nam (a dipping sauce name from fish sauce), it was a visit to 2011. Bo bia wrapped Chinese sausage, hoisin, peanut and jicama together into one. The real star of this plate was the crispy pork belly, or the thit sot chua ngot (try saying that three times fast); it like a play on the famed Heo Xao Chua Ngo with the chicharrones, pineapple and sweet and sour sauce.
Anyone ever been stung by a jellyfish will automatically forget any pain caused by the creatures after having one bite of this jellyfish salad, Goi Sua. A surprise both in texture and flavor, it went perfectly with the passion fruit, scallion and sesame citrus glaze.
On a recent trip to Paris, Zapata and Meinhold stayed with Aniece's Vietnamese family and slurped on a soup that Zapata will never forget. With the help of Aniece's mom in the kitchen, he recreated his own rendition of said soup. The "she-crab" noodle soup with crispy soft shell crab, silken tofu and crab roe paste was airy and delicate. The broth was a great transition between appetizers and the heavier courses to come next.
Khong River took the third course with some Chinese grilled beef short ribs marinated Chinese five spice, honey, hoisin and sprinkled with chopped peanuts. They were accompanied by wok-charred shishito pepper with sweet and sour sauce and some more crispy chicharrones because chicharrones are always welcome. The short ribs were cooked just right, falling right off the bone.
Duck lovers got their wish with a Coca-Cola roasted duck with a hoisin glaze. Smokey and sweet, it was a true conundrum of flavors.
Zapata and Meinhold served it with lettuce wraps, garnishes and jasmine rice, so "you can make your own little situation," as Meinhold best put it.
Khong River put an end to the meal with a Asian pear and rum butterscotch tartlet with a ginger tea sorbet and yuzu.
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