Tiny Ridgewood Vietnamese phenom Bun-Ker’s new, bigger, and slightly more accessible restaurant in Bushwick is now just a few weeks away from opening, and owner/chef Jimmy Tu’s ready to launch a pumped-up version of his hip, critically adored spot. The new space at 99 Scott Ave., near Randolph, will have both a plant-filled restaurant and a small retail shop, stocked with both food related items like house-made hot sauce and non-food stuffs, like skateboarding culture clothes and a Bun-Ker chef’s jacket. "It’s bohemian. It’s unique," Tu says. And, for non-local devotees of the restaurant, it will be closer to the L train than the current location.
Fans of the restaurant may recognize some of the items on the new menu. Tu will be serving up dishes that he previously was only able to offer as a special at the original location due to the small capacity of the kitchen, like beef pho or lettuce wraps with dips. In general, the menu will be pretty traditional, Tu says. "It’s all geared toward more authentic Vietnamese," he says. He’ll be offering more seafood, snacks like stuffed angel wings and steamed rice cakes, and classic Vietnamese items like bún chả, a grilled pork served with rice noodles. Bún chả is what President Barack Obama ate when he dined with Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam earlier this year.
'It's all geared toward more authentic Vietnamese'
The drink program will also aim to take inspiration from traditional beverages in Vietnam, with fresh watermelon juice, young coconut juice, tamarind soda, and iced coffee in collaboration with Caffe Vita. They can be ordered either on their own or in cocktail form. The juices may eventually be bottled and sold at Bun-Ker’s upcoming location in Dekalb Market, the food hall in Downtown Brooklyn’s megadevelopment City Point. (This location will be more casual and should open in March.)
And the bigger location will mean other ambitious projects. Tu wants to do more collaborations, including with other companies opening at the 99 Scott complex. Already, they plan to work with Kings County Brewing Company in Bushwick to create a custom beer and to grow mushrooms inside the restaurants with the help of gourmet mushroom company Smallhold, which has a space near the new Bun-Ker. Tu’s friend owns skating company UXA, and he plans to work with UXA for Bun-Ker merch, too. "Stuff like that, we’re excited about," Tu says.
The team’s trying to get open by the end of November. Before then, the restaurant will be previewing the menu at the RAW WINE fair on November 6 and November 7, an event at 99 Scott that celebrates natural, biodynamic, and organic wine. Tickets for the event, which will also feature food and drink from Roberta’s, INSA, and Parlor Coffee, can be purchased online. "We want a fun and relaxed and casual atmosphere," Tu says. "But we want to bring serious food and serious wine." Stay tuned for more information as the new Bun-Ker gets closer to opening.