A new entry into the local cocktail scene that’s slated to open this winter will also spotlight modern Vietnamese cuisine. Named Kingfisher, after the many species of colorful waterbirds found in Vietnam, the indoor-outdoor bar and restaurant replaces Kafe Sobaka in Golden Hill and is a passion project for the team behind the popular Crab Hut eateries, which includes executive chef/co-owner Ky Phan and beverage director David Tye (The Lion’s Share, Sycamore Den, Prohibition). Working with Next Wave Commercial’s Nate Benedetto to secure the 3,000-square-foot space on Broadway, the team will be transforming it in partnership with Ocio Design Group.
In 2017, after cooking an acclaimed Asian-themed supper club dinner at Green Flash, Phan was spurred to launch a pop-up series to explore her Vietnamese heritage through dishes paired with drinks from Tye, who joined the Cajun seafood concept in early 2016 to help elevate the cocktail program at its three locations in Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa and downtown San Diego. The next dinner is in May, and will feature the food of the Mekong region.
In developing Kingfisher, their travels have taken them from New Orleans to New York City; the group also recently toured Asia, where Phan visited her hometown of Sa Đéc in southern Vietnam and Tye researched the cocktail culture of Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.
Phan says her menu of shareable plates will be rooted in Vietnamese classics, from foods that might be familiar to San Diego diners to lesser-seen dishes. Featuring refined presentations and made with California-sourced ingredients, the plates will also highlight the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine. Tye’s progressive and forward-thinking menu of 15 to 20 drinks will feature complex builds and obscure ingredients; although many of the cocktails have Asian elements, Tye says Kingfisher’s bartenders will also accommodate any sort of “Dealer’s Choice” request.