Before making the Magic City realize that pigs can fly and ducks are delicious in a jar at the Federal, Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold charmed us with Phuc Yea!
Miami's first pop-up concept, Phuc Yea! left us with a serious craving for comfort and authentic Vietnamese food ever since it popped down in 2011. Plans to resurrect Phuc Yea! are in the works, and Zapata expects "an end-of-year or early-of-next" opening date.
See also: Resurrect Phuc Yea!: Here's How to Help
Zapata and Meinhold are frequent visitors to Khong River House, and in turn, Khong's chef de cuisine and general manager are huge fans of Phuc Yea! The idea to take over Khong popped up and seemed like a natural fit and a perfect way to tease the reboot of Phuc Yea!
Though the Guest Chef Series is usually a five-course setup, Zapata says this one will be a little different. "We're actually making a lot of small dishes, so in the end it's going to be something around ten courses."
He and 50 Eggs culinary director Clayton Miller will share stovetops and spices, and Aniece's mom will join the kitchen and fun. Most of the recipes are hers, so she'll cook with Meinhold, and Zapata will work his Phuc Yea! magic by adding in a twist to make them suitable for the Miami palate.
Guests will have a chance to bite into the wildly popular spring and summer rolls that made Phuc Yea! a staple. Afraid of jellyfish? Maybe you'll like them better in a salad with sweet-and-sour chicharrones. Zapata will also make two styles of noodles, one of which is a typical Vietnamese breakfast dish that contains rice noodles with ground pork, lots of herbs, and traditional fish sauce. The other was an inspiration from a recent trip Zapata and Meinhold took to Paris, where they stayed with Aniece's Vietnamese family.
"I had this amazing soup made with crab roe, so with the help of Aniece's mom, we're going to be doing something similar using soft-shell crab and a sweet-and-sour broth," Zapata explains. With ten possible courses, and Miller taking half of those, expect nothing short of authentic and bold Southeast Asian fare that's sure to knock you off your seat.
"We're very excited about bringing Phuc Yea! for one night with the Khong family, who's been supersupportive of us," Zapata says.
According to Miller, that collaborative spirit will be a major element at the 50 Eggs Test Kitchen, which broke ground this summer and will open in early 2015 on Biscayne Boulevard.
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"We've had the honor of hosting and working side-by-side with some of the most talented chefs in the country," Miller says. "In addition to being a lot of fun and keeping us engaged and creative, it's also a fabulous way for us to bring these amazing talents to South Florida and share them with our customers."
Ten small plates, so many possibilities. Hurry if you want to get in on the pop-up fun -- Zapata says tickets are selling out quickly. Tickets cost $75 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and are available at 50eggsinc.com/chefs.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha