Photo by Kevin Marple.

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Mot Hai Ba to Debut Brunch

Good morning, Vietnam!

Chef Peja Krstic’s tiny outpost of soulfully elevated Vietnamese fare wrapped up its last lunch service in late November. For those who mourned, fearing this signaled the end of a beautiful run of brothy bun bowls and bahn mi sandwiches, there’s good news. Krstic plans to launch a brunch menu this year that will recombine a good number of dishes previously served at lunch as well as introducing new adventures.

As Krstic points out, “pho, bun bowls … many of these things are actually eaten for breakfast in Vietnam,” a place where the morning palate runs savory and the closest thing to a brunch item is the bun cha Hanoi, chargrilled pork belly, vermicelli noodles, pork meatballs, and a host of herby accompaniments often served in the morning, like a Vietnamese version of an English breakfast.

Having come into ownership of the restaurant last year, Krstic has been wanting to focus more of his energy on the dinner menu—hence the move away from the daily pull of a lunch service. (Particularly in the tiny kitchen, the lunch rush was significant.)

Though the brunch menu is still in development, you will most likely find something resembling the bun bo Hue, spicy pork and beef soup with lemongrass, as well as at least one version of pho, perhaps a duck pho garnished with a poached duck egg.

There will be sandwiches and omelettes and scrambled eggs made to order, something Krstic cares deeply about. (Krstic shows his classically trained roots here; he brooks no cheating when it comes to eggs, just deft work in the pan—and patience—that yields a soufflé in your mouth.)

And he’s playing around with the idea of pandan biscuits, the familiar staple fragrant with pandan leaf. “Maybe with pork and coconut lemongrass gravy,” he says. Knowing Krstic, this could be one of the more wonderful plays on biscuits and gravy we’ve had in a while. Familiar, but with a twist. “What we have is an open door not to Americanize, but to combine certain Vietnamese flavors,” he says.

Stay tuned for the brunch menu and dream of pho.

 

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