Did you miss the good times last Monday, when Joey Pham (@flavorsupreme), Kelly Ijichi (Mom’s Chicago), and their Monday Snack Gathering* cohort conjured magic from the depths of the Kedzie Inn’s roiling deep fryer? Chicken gyoza showered in black truffles flew around the dining room like a flock of sizzling hummingbirds.
From that you’d never guess that Pham and paisan Lorraine Nguyen (@lolo_agogo) have been dancing the tarantella at the crossroads of Vietnamese and Italian cuisine. It all started after they cooked a birthday dinner for a private client that got them thinking about the similarities. Pham had also recently watched the Sopranos for the first time, which narrowed the focus to Viet-Italian-American. A year and a half of dabbling later and here we are today—rather, on March 21—for part due of MSG’s two-week run at Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up series at the Kedzie Inn in Irving Park.
Nguyen and Pham will be throwing down a four-plate “Viet-Italo” meal in which the chicken piccata substitutes pickled green peppercorns for the briny bite of capers, and a jumbo pork-shrimp-crab meatball plays a beached floater, washed in from a bowl of bún riêu, the flavors of the limpid, sweet aqueous-tomato broth concentrated like Sunday gravy—all to be mopped up by a baguette from Ba Le bakery (founded in Saigon in the 60s by Pham’s grandfather).
They’re only taking preorders for this meal set, which feeds two and begins with a bittersweet pomelo and endive salad with lemongrass-fish sauce vinaigrette, and ends with tiramisu—coconut ladyfingers saturated with Vietnamese chicory egg-cream coffee.
And that isn’t nearly all: Roshelley Mayén of Juanita’s Bebidas will be batching two TBA non-alcoholic cocktails that you can hustle right over to Jon Pokorny at the bar for spiking; plus two of her signature full-octane milk punches bottled to take home for later.
There are no walk-in orders available for this sit-down (and no carry out), but there will be a limited number of walk-in banh mi available for sale on the spot (pork roll, Maggi aioli, pickled veg, fresh herbs, plus fries, $10). And just like last week there will plenty of swell merch and non-perishable treats from members of the Monday Snack Gathering collective.
But what I’m really looking forward to is digging into this planet-spanning abbondanza to the sweet sounds of Mayén—a childhood (lowercase) soprano prodigy—singing snippets of “Ave Maria” and “Pie Jesu.” Yeah, that’s right, it’s also opera night at the Kedzie. Act respectable.
And check out the full Monday Night Foodball schedule. More coming soon.
- April 11: TBA
- April 18: Ricky Hanft of The Wurst
- April 25: Roel Estanilla of @pigandfire
- formerly Snack Collective; formerly Snackette