July 5, 2011 | Short Order

Unhumbled Baoster considers opening Brooklyn Diner in Vietnam.

The camera captures Chef Huynh in a rare kitchen moment at D.O.B.111. Photo Steven Richter.
The camera captures Chef Huynh in a rare kitchen moment at D.O.B.111. Photo Steven Richter.

        Caught Michael “Bao” Huynh licking his wounds, blaming everyone else for Baotique closing and plotting his next move to shore up his sinking empire: more no-risk money-making Baoquettes and Mikey's Burgers, and an American deli in Vietnam. “There’s a lot of money there.”   He’s thinking of calling it Brooklyn Diner.

        Will he use the same neon logo as Shelly Fireman’s Brooklyn Diner on West 57th Street.


       “Isn’t he afraid he’ll be sued.”

       “He’s gonna sue me?” he laughs. “Let him sue me in Vietnam.” He laughs again. “I don’t copy the menu.  We do our own style. Clam chowder, corned beef, pastrami, that’s normal. I would love for him to sue me. My name won’t even be on it. I’ll be doing it with Tommy, my American adopted brother – we had a diner together upstate.

Wife Thao Nguyen does fresh summer rolls during their brief stay at B'un Soho. Photo: Steven Richter

       “I cannot play games anymore,” he said.  "I’m not a kid anymore." He’s 45. “At BarBao, the rent was $40,000 a month. To pay that “The people got to do a lot of drinking.  From now on, I do small places where everything is under $10. High end places, you work for the landlord."

The chef's Viet-Tex mix (nachos here) was either genius or desperation. Photo: Steven Richter

       A year ago Huynh was snatching fire sale leases on small spaces, opening and closing or transforming pygmy joints so fast, he sometimes couldn’t remember exactly how many he had.  The noodle shop A Bao slipped through his fingers.  His take on a Vietnmaese beer garden, Bia Garden didn’t work in winter.  “Too small to make any money,” he says. A Vietnam-Mexican concept Chinito was a brief candle and a teeny Viet-Mex rehash called Baoritto in the original Baoguette spot on Third Avenue is now a Mikey’s Burger.

        A year ago he was spinning his plan for Bao & Bunny, an East Village fried chicken place with Playboy Bunny Nicole Van Croft. “He makes the best fried chicken and waffles,” she told Eater, NY. He talked about doing BaoBQ.  And potential funding for ten Baoguettes.

"No way to make money with rent at BarBao" says Michael. It's gone now. Photo: Steven Richter

       The local board’s refusal to give him a liquor license spooked DOB 111 where he scored with mind of lamb ravioli, exquisite green garlic soup and marvelous duck egg hash when he was in the kitchen himself.  Before he went on to the next big thing. “You can’t drink water with three star food,” he says. Now that’s gone too.  Baoguette/PhoSure survives on Christopher Street “but I need some time to make it better,” he confides. What’s next?  Shish Kebao he told Metromix – mix and match kebabs with an Asian accent. 

Click here to return to Short Order Listings

Insatiable, The Book, Bby Gael Greene

Patina Restaurant Group