It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything about Uno Immanivong, the Dallas woman who owns the boutique food company, Foodie Couture. I asked Nancy if she knew her, and Nancy goes, “Sounds familiar… Mico Rodriguez?” Yep, apparently the two worked on a restaurant concept together back in 2010. It was going to be called Pinky Chan – China Town. Immanivong and Rodriguez created this elaborate backstory about Pinky Chan, an Asian concubine who loved sewing and Parisian life, for the restaurant. (I refrain to comment on this. Must. Bite. Lip.)
Since then, Immanivong told me she’s been pretty busy. She’s been trying out for reality shows. None of them worked out until… ta da! The Taste happened. The Taste on ABC is a ripoff of NBC’s The Singoff The Voice, except they cook instead of sing, and there’s Anthony Bourdain instead of Cee Lo. The “Auditions Part 2” aired on Jan. 29, and whaddyaknow, Immanivong was chosen to be on AB’s team because of her lap gai with minced gizzards. “I have to come in first place because the name says it all: Uno,” says the single mother of an eight-year-old girl. “I would say I’m a home cook almost on the border of a professional chef.”
In the meantime, while we wait to see whether she wins and lives up to her name, Immanivong is also getting ready to open her first restaurant at Trinity Groves. It should be open by May. She and her partner, Adrian Berdin, are planning to do Asian-Latino food. “It’s an eclectic mix of both of our styles, smaller proportions, it’s about sharing family meals, and we’re going to focus on cocktails.” Those are all the details she’s releasing for now (besides the fact that it’s basically going to be the Americanized version of Asian street food). Think: “lemongrass and fermented fish and all those great things and making it palatable,” says Immanivong.
The restaurant will also be called Chino. I wasn’t sure if Immanivong was naming her first restaurant after pants or the Spanish word for “Chinese.” Either one would’ve been a little… odd. “Chino means Latin China Town,” she told me. Interesting definition of Chino, but let’s focus on the more important things: Asian street food is making its way to Trinity Groves. And if you’re dying to try some of Immanivong’s food, you can attend her Chino preview/pop up event on February 9 for $80: http://cravechino.eventbrite.com/