I have enjoyed many fine meals at kin(sic), Hieu Than’s diminutive yellow powerhouse of a restaurant overlooking a charmless drainage ditch in Gertown across from Xavier University. It is on my regular “route” around town and a tug of longing hits every time I have passed the sweet little restaurant that has born boards over the doors and window since ever since this effing pandemic took hold and shattered our lives and livelihoods.
I have kept track of Hieu on social media, warming with joy to witness the growth of his young son, Marcy, and the love he shares with his wife, Mei-Lee. I have worried terribly for them: How much revenue could a roughly 400 square foot space have generated? How long can Hieu and his young family hold on with that small restaurant shuttered?
Hieu explained that, as it were, kin was due for an expansive build-out at the beginning of this summer.
“The new construction was part of my long time dream to offer equity ownership to our long time chef, Ron Nevels and front of house waiter and manager, Gabriel Cambel,” Hieu said. “The plans will still be good when the economy recovers. I have been patiently waiting for a phase three open, but as it were, we are regressing. So hopefully in October, we will be able to be back.”
Meanwhile I am thrilled to report that kin is hosting a pop-up at the newly opened Plume, small but mighty Indian restaurant in Algiers, on Monday evening. “This popup event will be the first time Ron, Gabriel, and I will work together as business partners, “Hieu said. “Hopefully, with this model, we can create a more sustainable business and survive this current economy. If we can, then the build-out is still happening!
Monday’s menu is limited to a pork tonkotsu ramen kit that serves one and is to be prepared at home. The kit includes kin’s silken house-made ramen noodles, braised pork belly, confit ground pork shoulder, a marinated soft egg, scallions, and caramelized onions. Each kit is $18; stylin’ kin caps are $10.
Orders are now being accepted. Please follow kin on Instagram @kinfordin then direct message your order to receive instructions on Venmo payment and pickup instructions for Monday. Payments are to be made via Venmo at @hdthan. Yes, I know this seems like a rigmarole but it is not as onerous as it might seem. Just do it anyway. Just think of what our beloved, hard working small business owners and restaurateurs are going through right now. They need our help.
On to the newly opened aforementioned Plume (1113 Teche St, 504-381-4893, plumealgiers.com). It takes serious mettle to open a restaurant in this climate but that is exactly what Tyler Stuart and Merritt Coscia have done. They have morphed their pop-up, Thali Llama, into a fast-casual, brick-and-mortar restaurant focused on the regional Indian cooking the pair has come to revere in their world travels and studies. They are currently offering to-go service and the menu looks amazing. I am seriously ready for Mushroom Kothu Roti (stir fried mushrooms, house roti, goat cheese, raita, tarragon); Kozhi Pidi (coconut dumplings, spicy fried chicken stew); and a Mini Mango Custard Pie with a salted gingersnap crust. Soon they will offer dishes from all over the Indian subcontinent in house, directly out of the kitchen, which opens on to a food bar where diners will be able to watch the chefs at work. Weekends will soon bring a chef’s tasting menu with fine dining approach with fresh, local ingredients.
Near and dear to my heart, Mason Hereford (he has no idea how much I actually admire him because of way he supports his employees and refuses to eschew his humanity and his humility for the fame he could easily and cockily claim) recently reopened Turkey and the Wolf (739 Jackson Ave., New Orleans, 504-218-7428, turkeyandthewolf.com) Hooray! I could eat the braised collard green sandwich at least once a week. Hereford shut down his Jackson Avenue hotspot/sandwich shop for most of the stay-at-home order as he stayed busy volunteering help to feed frontline responders. You can order online or call it in. Just don’t you dare open the door: Sit your ass in the parking lot or in your car until your order comes up, then take it leave. No messin’ around.
Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the culture and the community you love. Be kind to your neighbors, keep your distance and wash your hands.