Showing posts with label Van Da. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Van Da. Show all posts

Friday, March 26, 2021

Van Da to treat NYC's 'Warrior Women' to dinner on its 1st night back

Photo of Yen Ngo from November by Stacie Joy 

Van Da, the modern Vietnamese restaurant at 234 E. Fourth St., reopens April 1 here between Avenue A and Avenue B.

And on the opening night, owner Yen Ngo plans to honor the women who have helped "lift our city up and forward."

She explains in an Instagram post:
Throughout history, women have always carried communities forward, uplifting one another, providing life and nourishment in all forms (and hardly get the credit for it.) History repeats itself again throughout this pandemic, hearing so many stories about women who have lifted their communities and led the way through a worldwide crisis, offering hope and inspiration to those around them.

We've been mulling over ways to re-open in exactly 1 week on April 1st that honor what NYC has fought through and, at the same time, honor the women who have held the torch to lift our city up and forward.

On Thursday, April 1, we are dedicating our opening night to treat 75 of these heroic women and a companion to thank them for their courage, resilience, and leadership with a special fixed menu and wine pairing.

Please help us treat our local NY Warrior Women to an evening out by nominating them ... 

The deadline to nominate someone is 8 p.m. on Monday. And you need to do it on Van Da's Instagram account.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

A visit to Van Da on 4th Street

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

There is something magical watching a close-knit team work together to create something. 

In that light, I was pleased to arrive early enough at the elegant and modern Vietnamese restaurant Van Da, 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, to watch the chefs prepare, taste, and perfect the day’s special, tôm rim shrimp. It’s a seafood dish cooked over high heat with caramelized fish sauce, peppers and toasted cashews, all served over broken rice, which executive chef Mary Celine Bui calls “tortured rice” due to the process that it undergoes to become “broken.” 

The dish is tasted by all staff members and discussed (chef Jay Bui, Mary’s husband and partner in the kitchen, offers to add some green onions), and notes are jotted down to inform diners about the special, before the chefs make a new batch with modifications under the watchful eye of owner Yen Ngo. 

Yen, Mary and Jay go through several iterations of the plate before Yen is satisfied that it is ready for her customers.

Away from the kitchen, bartender Andrew Pisano gets his station in order and begins to prep the cocktail specialty ingredients (Thai basil, bird-chili–infused mezcal, passionfruit) necessary to complement the food menu.
Meanwhile, diners start to arrive, so I settle in to talk with Yen about what it’s like to keep a neighborhood restaurant going during a global pandemic, the challenges of balancing labor, food and supply costs, and what her plans are going forward.
Your restaurant opened last year to critical acclaim (per the Times and Eater), yet you consider the space an approachable neighborhood local. What has the neighborhood’s response been?

We feel so fortunate to have such amazing writeups and to be recognized by the Michelin. It’s such an honor. Restaurant businesses are so hard, we love this kind of recognition plus the reviews of our guests.

I live in the East Village so I understand both what the neighborhood offers and lacks in term of restaurants. There is definitely a lack of Vietnamese restaurants that offer an interesting and authentic menu, but which also offer beautiful aesthetic atmosphere and great service. 

With that said, we keep our prices very competitive with other neighborhood restaurants. Our appetizers start at $7 and noodle entree at $15. Our neighbors love us and have been back regularly. Many have told us that we are their hidden gem. 
What has been the biggest challenge for you since the city approved outdoor dining back in the summer?
There are so many challenges…including creating and spending money on a completely new type of setting. It’s hard to spend the money, not knowing if you can get it back. We are at the mercy of the weather. When it rains, you’ve suddenly lost 50 percent of your reservations.
It’s extremely hard to break even on the small numbers of tables that we have for outdoor seating. Our food is so complicated that we still need the same number of kitchen staff if we do 90 guests or if we do 20 guests. There is no way to cut them, so therefore out labor cost is 50 percent of sale.
What is your biggest concern as we head into winter? Is 25 percent indoor dining along with some outdoor space sustainable? 

This is definitely the biggest challenge. It’s hard for people to eat outside in the cold. However, I agree that we need to keep everyone safe. 

As a business owner, I want to be able to survive but I also want what best for everyone, so it’s tough to navigate the steps on indoor dinning.

Your dining hours are limited, with the restaurant closed on Sundays and Mondays, and not open for lunch. What prompted these decisions?
We are located on a charming but very quiet street. It’s impossible for us to open for lunch and break even with the food and staff cost. If we were on Avenue B, that might work, but I am not sure if that is true either. We have tried to open Sundays but it was not successful. People love to eat Sunday brunch and comfort food, rather than exotic food. The truth is labor cost is so high that you can lose much more if you open on quiet days.
You always have a good soundtrack playing in the background. What do you think is the key to a pleasing restaurant ambiance?
We are in a dense neighborhood, it’s so important for us to make sure the people who live nearby are not constantly bother by loud music and worse — bad music. As a diner, I also am completely turned off by terrible and loud music so that you have to scream to be heard. 

Normally, I ask business owners about what’s next for them, what their plans are going forward.  Knowing that we don’t know a lot about how the pandemic and its surrounding issues will play out, what are your thoughts on the restaurant industry as we look toward next year? 

Wow, this is a tough one to answer. I am very worried about the restaurant industry altogether. There are already so many closures and will be many more the next few months. In January and February of 2020, we were doing extremely well and thought that we are going to make it and become a neighborhood destination. 

But, of course, with the pandemic and now winter coming, it’s very scary. Our landlord is really nice, though, and has reached out to see how he can help us hang in there for the next four or five months. So, if we can keep the losses to a minimum and make it until April 2021, we might be OK.  
In the meantime, we can work on increasing our carry-out business, as that will be the only safe way for guest to enjoy our food without worrying too much about eating inside.
You can keep up with the restaurant on Instagram. For reservations call 917.994.4781 or email

Friday, August 28, 2020

A variation of dine and dash on 4th Street

Earlier today, someone tried to make off with one of the outdoor dining tables at Van Da (try the banh beo!) on Fourth Street just west of Avenue B... the moment captured and shared on the Vietnamese restaurant's Instagram Stories ... while the photo was captured, the would-be table thief was not, chased off by a staff member...

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Van Đa returns to service this evening on 4th Street

Van Đa, which serves regional Vietnamese food at 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, reopens this evening after taking time off during the COVID-19 PAUSE. (The restaurant collaborated with chef Hannah Wong for a weekend takeout service here in the spring.)

For now, Yen Ngo, owner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand Van Đa, will be offering curbside dining, takeout and delivery Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.

You can find the new summer menu here.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Weekend openings: Black and White, Cherry Tavern, Van Da

[Image via Instagram]

Two bars that have been closed since mid-March are back for to-go service this weekend.

Black & White will be serving drinks (to take home!) today from the bar at 86 E. 10th St. St. between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. Hours: 2-6 p.m.

Cherry Tavern is also back in service for the weekend, offering drinks to go from noon to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow at 441 E. Sixth St. between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Meanwhile, Boris & Horton, the dog-friendly cafe on Avenue A at 12th Street, reopened their to-go window back on Monday for coffee and pastries (served only to mask-wearing customers, per their Instagram account). Open until 1 p.m. today.

As a reminder, SMØR, the Noridc cafe a few doors away on 12th Street, reopened on April 22. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Also! Van Da, the well-regarded Vietnamese restaurant on Fourth Street, is continuing its collaboration with chef Hannah Wong (of the incoming Brooklyn restaurant Haema), for a weekend takeout service.

You can find the Haema-Van Da menu, which changes each weekend, and order in advance via this form. You pick up the food at Van Da, 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B from noon to 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Van Da continues its weekend collaboration with Chef Hannah Wong

[Reader-submitted photo]

Van Da, the well-regarded Vietnamese restaurant on Fourth Street, is continuing its collaboration with chef Hannah Wong (of the incoming Brooklyn restaurant Haema), for a weekend takeout service. (Saturday and Sunday, or today and tomorrow.)

You can find the Haema-Van Da menu, which changes each weekend, and order in advance via this form. (If this is of interest, then consider putting in your order early: they've sold out the past two weekends on Sunday.)

You pick up the food at Van Da, 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B from noon to 8 p.m.

Friday, April 10, 2020

A takeout collaboration this weekend at Van Da on 4th Street

Van Da, the well-regarded Vietnamese restaurant on Fourth Street, is teaming up with chef Hannah Wong (of the incoming Brooklyn restaurant Haema), for a takeout service this weekend (today through Sunday).

The menu is available from noon to 6 p.m. You can find the menu and order in advance via this form.

You pick up the food at Van Da, 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Van Đa brings modern Vietnamese cuisine to 4th Street starting tonight

Van Đa makes it debut this evening over at 234 E. Fourth St. just west of Avenue B.

The project, from restaurateur Yen Ngo and Gramercy Tavern alum chef Hannah Wong, focuses on the food of Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Hanoi.

Eater had a preview:

The duo is resisting traditional versions of pho or banh mi on the menu, with Ngo instead harking back to the food of her youth in Vietnam that she doesn’t often find here.

The menu is split into three sections of food from those three cities, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in south Vietnam; Hue, in the middle and which was once the royal capital of the country; and Hanoi up north. Ngo says that the food of central Vietnamese city Hue is very time-intensive and complex, though with gentle flavors, and she’s not seen many versions of it here. One example is shrimp and pork tapioca dumplings, which are made from tapioca flour and steamed in banana leaves. Dishes from other categories include stir-fried pho noodles and lemongrass beef tartare.

You can find their menu at this link.

The two-level space has been several restaurants in recent years, most notably The Cardinal, the Southern-style restaurant from chef-owner Curtis Brown.