Ky Nyguen, who became infatuated with the world of dining while employed in the financial world in Manhattan in 2004, took a giant leap, shifting course and working as a busboy and later a server at a popular bistro, Pastis, to learn whether a career shift was in the cards for him.
He recently opened his third Boston area restaurant in Brookline, a tribute to the foods of his heritage and the second unit of SA PA, his downtown fast casual operation which joined the initial restaurant, Kingston Station. The menu offers banh mi, pho and other items including a Banh Mi Burrito, Banh Mi Sandwich and delicious rice bowls. Because there is typically no refrigeration in Vietnamese homes, Ngyuen explains, food must be fresh and fast. "We are taking the same ingredients and principles and doing it here in a modern way." He calls the food "from my roots to your table." The average check is $10.
The restaurant opened a year and three months after the downtown SA PA and, like the first, will be offering catering. A beer and wine license is planned with four beers on tap, beers by the bottle and wine by the glass.
The name comes from an area in northwest Vietnam and on the wall are black and white photos of Nguyen's family, which moved to Boston when he was a small child in elementary school. A contemporary decor and large windows that open to the street offer a contemporary ambience that fits his "modern Vietnamese" style.
Will there be more? Nguyen's entrepreneurial spirit is strong, and yes, he says, he'd like to roll out the fast casual concept as time goes by.