Bun :: Small plates, big style and insanely delicious food
Bun (pronounced Boon) is a teeny boite that’s bursting with hot juicy flavor. This Vietnamese restaurant is the newest feather in Chef Michael "Bao" Hyunh’s (Bao 111, Mai House) cap. His partners in this venture are his wife, Thao Nguyen, and Warren Cuccurullo (ex- Missing Persons, ex-Duran Duran, and a few adult films). They come together to offer New York City an intimate restaurant that’s serving Vietnamese rice noodle dishes and street food style.
At the crazed and over-packed opening, there was a luscious display of small plates; each one more tempting than the next. While sipping a soft-and-crisp-as-apples Torrontes wine (a yummy white wine from Argentina - my new love), I sampled short ribs wrapped on lemongrass skewers with Boston cup lettuce ($10), couldn’t stop nibbling the Nem of duck and foie gras with pineapple relish, lettuce wrap and anchovy sauce ($12) and fought over the wild boar blood sausages with ginger apple puree and pomegranate syrup with a taller and more impatient man in the line behind me. These were so good, that he actually reached over my head- as if I weren’t there- to grab more.
The menu runs the gamut from fresh bun rolls ($5) in assorted delicacies like smoked eel to vegetables to black cod, to Bun with and without broth. There’s cold salad, meat, fish and poultry. You could take a mixed herd of herbivores and carnivores to this place and they’d both happily sup together. For tight budgets this place is perfect, as the most expensive items on the menu are $12, but taste much more expensive.
Vietnamese cuisine is lightly spiced, colorful to the eye and blends many textures to create a delicate blast of zesty and modest flavors that when done right, are mixed to perfection. And perfection is what Chef Hyunh does well here.
The place is intimate, no, take that back, it’s tiny; Bun seats 50 people comfortably in booths and 60 foot dining counter. The artwork, beaded light fixtures, and bamboo booths were all imported from Vietnam. The chef strayed out of the kitchen to design this place, and it’s romantic and charming. Their wine list is varied and clever; witness the pairing of an Argentinean white wine with Vietnamese food.
It’s the perfect quiet dinner spot in Soho, that’s soon to also be open for lunch and breakfast. Expect breakfast to be Vietnamese style; a little lighter, but sweeter than American fare.
Bun is located at 143 Grand Street, near Lafayette. To find out more about the restaurant - their hours and the menu, visit their website - www.eatbun.com