The team behind East Village hit Hanoi House is expanding with a new, all-day Vietnamese cafe this week, serving pho and other favorites from a tiny counter-service spot two doors down from the original.
After their success bringing homey Vietnamese fare to the neighborhood — Hanoi House has long waits until this day — restaurateurs Sara Leveen and Ben Lowell will open Hanoi Soup Shop on Thursday, April 25, at 115 St. Marks Place near Avenue A. It’s a much more casual affair, where diners order and pay at a counter and a tight menu of appetizers, pho, and sandwiches will change regularly. Delivery and takeout will be a big focus here, Leveen tells Eater.
“I would say first and foremost, it’s an extension of Hanoi House, or an amenity of Hanoi House, in the sense that it was definitely driven by the request for lunch, takeout, and delivery,” she says. “We designed a menu that’s sort of built for speed.”
The main attraction will be pho, available in chicken, beef, or vegetarian varieties, plus other dishes like papaya and watercress salad, summer rolls, and banh mi. Rotating specials will include bun bo Hue, a breakfast soup from the port city of Hue, and a stew lamb rib kho, a stew. Fruit shakes and Hanoi’s famous egg coffee will also be on tap. See the menu below.
Chef Daniel Le will helm the kitchen, while chef Albert Nguyen will take the reigns at Hanoi House. (Previously, the duo served as co-executive chefs at Hanoi House.) Le, who grew up working at restaurants in Orange County, California’s Little Saigon, joined Hanoi House when it opened in November 2016. Nguyen joined the company last year, after time at places such as Del Posto, Flora Bar, and Má Pêche.
The new all-day cafe will serve as a sort of test kitchen for the chefs, where they’ll be able to experiment with the food they ate as kids, especially when it comes to those daily specials, Leveen says.
She and Lowell opened Hanoi House in 2016, and it became an instant hit for its hip vibes and uncompromising flavors, in part due to its opening chef John Nguyen. But that chef left the restaurant in a somewhat nasty split last year, though the legal case between them has since been settled.
The restaurateurs aim to bring those vibes over to Hanoi Soup Shop, where the 10-seat counter restaurant is inspired by Hanoi’s trendy coffee shops and open-air restaurants throughout Vietnam. The decor leans rustic, with green plants meant to add a “tropical” feel, according to a statement. The custom pottery and Vietnamese kitchenware on display will be available for purchase.
Hanoi Soup Shop will be open from Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for now, though the team plans to expand those hours in the future.