Looks like well-received Chinese rice noodle shop Yuan might be on its way out — and alum of Butter Midtown are eyeing the space for a Mexican restaurant.
Butter alum Eder Canseco, along with partners Michelle Noceda and Yuk Cheung, have brought on Butter chef Michael Jenkins in hopes of opening a Mexican restaurant at 157 2nd Ave., between 9th and 10th streets, as EV Grieve first reported.
Canseco and co.’s application for a liquor license, as posted on the Manhattan Community Board 3 website, shows that to-be-named restaurant will serve tacos via recipes created by Canseco’s mother, as well as more “fusion”-ish dishes from Jenkins. Proposed dishes on a sample menu include a coconut milk-braised short rib with spicy shredded coconut, Mexican fried chicken, and carne asada tacos. Butter Midtown is the remaining location of a restaurant run by Food Network regular chef Alex Guarnaschelli.
Despite the application with extensive photos of Yuan’s interior and a note saying that Canseco’s team is purchasing the restaurant, Yuan’s owner Jacob Ding claims that his restaurant is not closing. He did not respond to request for further comment; nobody is picking up the phone at the restaurant, either. Eater has also reached out for more info from E&Y Hospitality. Update: Cheung says in an email that they do not have an opening date yet.
It’s been a short run for Yuan. The restaurant received lots praise for its Guilin-style rice noodles not long after it opened in July 2017, with critic Robert Sietsema calling them “nothing short of spectacular” in a first look and Times columnist Ligaya Mishan commended the rice noodle soups. But at some point, the restaurant went from calling itself Yuan Noodle to Yuan Dim Sum King, further leaning into non-noodle dishes.
Chinese rice noodle shops have been wildly proliferating in NYC even though it was a rarity to see the genre even just a couple years ago. Now, in lower Manhattan alone, four other rice noodle shops have opened, with a fifth on the way in the East Village.