Everything held sacred by Portland’s modern food culture will soon crash-land inside a bar on SE Grand: food cart roots, collaborations, culinary mashups, unorthodox Asian flavors, and, singing from the rooftops—brunch. Of course, fried chicken will be in the mix. This one promises to be spicy-hot, Saigon-inspired, and precariously stacked over a green-hued pandan waffle.
That’s the elevator pitch for 86 Pho, which, Portland Monthly has learned, will kick off its new Sunday-only, three-course, $35 brunch on March 1. The endeavor, held at cocktail bar Lulu (726 Grand Ave), features a slate of rising young talents from Portland’s food cart and bakery world: Richard Le of Matta, NE Alberta’s spirited Vietnamese home-cooking cart; Justin Hintze of Jojo, Southeast’s wild fried chicken sandwich cart sensation; and Jin Caldwell and Kyurim Lee, the Korean-born dessert aces behind Jinju Patisserie on North Williams.
Here’s what we know about the launch menu: Le and Hintze, fast friends currently on a recon trip in Vietnam, will collaborate on the first two courses, what might be called a descent into Vietnamese-Americana madness: hot Saigon chicken over a pandan waffle, followed by jojo-laden hash crowned with an egg and fish sauce gravy. Le also plans to bust out an herb salad, dressed in Matta’s terrific nuoc cham (probably just so we don’t die). For dessert, Jinju will go in a different direction, fanciful and mod, with foret noire, a black forest cake layered in white chocolate-citrus mousse, orange chocolate cremeux, and cherry compote.
This is the second collaboration for this trio. In December, Matta, Jojo, and Jinju joined forces to take over the food menu at LuLu with“bougie bahn mi and loaded jojos,” plus a dessert from Caldwell and Lee. They call it Chơi Luôn, as Eater PDX first reported.
This is the kind of brash, willfully inauthentic thinking that Portland loves. The name, 86 Pho, defies our expectations of an Asian brunch. “Pho is the common breakfast in Vietnam,” says Le. “We won’t be doing any of that.” In short: pho has been 86ed.
Like so many Portland dining experiments, 86 Pho could be a disaster or a surprising new destination. One thing it won’t be: boring.
Pho86 will begin with one seating, 12-2 p.m., March 1. Another seating may be added in the future. Purchase tickets here.