Vietnamese barbecue lands in NYC this week — backed by the critically acclaimed team of top pho parlor Madame Vo.
Owners Yen Vo and Jimmy Ly are introducing New Yorkers to a less common genre of Vietnamese cuisine with their new restaurant Madame Vo BBQ, opening in the East Village Wednesday at 104 Second Ave., just a few blocks away from their original hit. Here, meats will be cooked over a tabletop grill — similar to a Korean barbecue restaurant — but then wrapped in rice paper with a mix of veggies, fruits, and sweet and savory sauces.
The centerpiece of the menu is the “bo 7 mon,” a $59, seven-course beef feast that starts with carpaccio salad and ends with oxtail congee. Different styles of meat like meatballs and beef tongue fall in between, accompanied by a side of ingredients like lettuce, pineapple, and mint.
The meat plus the vegetables and fruit are meant to be wrapped together in rice paper, the way a spring roll or burrito is made. Servers are charged with grilling the meat, while diners put their own wraps together. See a full menu and guide below.
Chef Ly displays his love for seafood on the a la carte menu, which goes beyond the beefy barbecue with grilled catfish, jumbo freshwater prawns, and charred uni. Drinks will include beer, wine, sake, fresh juices, and sake-based cocktails.
The overall menu is representative of two things: the traditional barbecue-style Vietnamese meal the duo grew up eating and their experiences in and out the kitchen in America. The grilled okra, for example, is a dish that pays homage to Vo’s home state of Mississippi, she says. “It’s basically things that we love eating,” Vo says.
In Vietnam, the barbecue meal is reserved for outdoor celebrations, they say. “It’s very fun. It’s very upbeat,” Ly says. “[Madame Vo] is a little bit more refined. In our new restaurant, we’re having a lot more fun with it because it’s a fun dish.”
To keep up with the festive vibes, the 85-seat restaurant was decorated with colorful, tropical wallpaper and bright blue walls.
The duo opened Madame Vo in early 2017 and its homey Vietnamese fare became an instant hit, landing a spot on the Eater 38. The barbecue restaurant is the team’s second culinary venture, and there are probably more to come. Ly says he has “other concepts” he hopes to share with NYC one day — but for now, he’ll focus on the barbecue.
Madame Vo opens Wednesday, December 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. After a soft opening this week, it’ll be open daily until midnight going forward. Service will start at noon on the weekends.