Opening today is the first taste of chef Michael ‘Bao’ Huynh's re-entry into the U.S. food scene; Hunyh spent many years in New York City and owned and operated several well-regarded eateries there before returning to his native Vietnam, where he was named 'Iron Chef Vietnam' and served as one of the county's culinary ambassadors.
Local restaurateur Alex Thao (Rama, Lucky Liu's) has brought the master chef to the Gaslamp, which Hunyh says reminds him of NYC's Soho neighborhood, to create the menus for two new concepts based on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The just-launched Food Shop is a 500-square-foot grab-and-go spot with a casual menu based on bahn mi sandwiches, snacks, pho and protein-topped rice, noodle and vegetable bowls.
Next door is the more upscale Sovereign Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar, which opens later this month in the former Royal Thai space at 467 5th Avenue. Hunyh says his menu there will be based on authentic Vietnamese food, done with an 'Iron Chef' sensibility. Expect signature dishes that he's developed over his long cooking career, using upgraded and seasonal ingredients with a focus on lighter and healthier options for California tastes.