Chef Yia Vang has been making good use of the former Mucci’s space at 901 W. Lake Street this year: It’s served as a commissary kitchen for his restaurants Union Hmong Kitchen and Vinai, as well as his state fair stall. But in January, he’ll transform it into something entirely new: Slurp, a pop-up noodle shop.
Slurp’s succinct menu will have just six dishes, half of them “brothy” soup-style noodles and half of them “saucy,” either pan-fried or chilled. It’ll center around essential Hmong dishes and flavors. “A lot of Hmong farmers are moving towards guinea fowl instead of chickens,” says Vang. As such, he’ll sub fowl into the khao poon, in place of the traditional chicken. “In every essence, it’s like chicken, but I feel like the broth itself is richer from the fat. It’s so delicious.”
One noodle dish has a soy-based broth that’s fortified with mustard greens. “It resonates a lot with the traditional pork and mustard green dish — that very classic Hmong dish,” says Vang. Another features wide egg noodles pan-fried on just one side, leaving the other soft: “Think of it like crispy hash browns.” It’s topped with braised pork and curry sauce. (Gluten-free and vegetarian options will be available, too.)
Vang wanted to craft a menu of warming winter dishes for the season. “On a cold day, you come back home, and you’ve got a big hot cauldron of noodles,” says Vang. “I tell people, if you were a Hmong kid growing up in church, this is the classic after-church meal. Some families did pot roast, and this is what we did. So it has a special place in my heart.”
Slurp will run from January 4 through mid-spring 2023, when it’ll be replaced with a new pop-up. Vang and his team have dubbed the Lake Street space “Hilltribe,” and it’ll continue be a kind of center of orbit for his restaurants, serving as a commissary and space for events and evening pop-ups. Vang’s long-awaited restaurant Vinai is still in the works as he searches for its permanent home.
Slurp will be open for lunch on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and closed Monday and Tuesday.