BRICOLAGE A VIETNAMESE GASTROPUB IN BROOKLYN
By Sophia Hsu
Photos by Amit Chaffee
After meeting Chef Lien Lin at the annual Taste of Fifth, a charity fundraising event, at Grand Prospect Hall earlier in the week, she invited Asian Fusion Magazine to her and her husband’s, Chef Ed Lin’s, restaurant Bricolage. She was freshly mixing Bricolage’s green papaya salad when she mentioned that she would be cooking up a storm alongside NYC legend Chef Chris Cheung of East Wind Snack Shop and friend of the magazine’s, in addition to several of his Asian Food Mafia members, Chef Tu David Phu of the Chefs Hawker Centre, Chef Medwin Pang of Hunger Pang, and Chef Christine Lau. The Asian Food Mafia is a community of American chefs trying to dispel the myths, misinterpretation, and cultural appropriation of Asian food in America one meal at time.
On Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Bricolage opened its beautiful wooden French doors welcoming its customers to join them February of 2015. The decor is upcycled vintage with comfortably mismatched chairs and tables. The music is barely audible over the din of “oohs” and ah’s from the seated customers. Every detail looks like it has a story all its own. A line is forming for tonight’s event theme “Asian BBQ”. Customers are chatting about the previous night’s theme “Modern Asian” and how they simply had to come back for more. Waiting at the bar, the bartender is flitting back and forth stirring, shaking, and pouring pre-dinner beverages of glorious colors and aromas. A couple who walk straight in and somehow miss the line of patient customers waiting to be seated, plop down at the bar, and rave about the beef they had the day before and how they simply had to have it again tonight. Making regulars of first time customers seems to be a pattern for Bricolage’s clientele. The restaurant was literally buzzing with this communal energy.
As patrons are seated, Chef Tu David Phu announces the evening’s chefs and theme. Chefs Lien and Ed Lin come out from the tiny open kitchen and welcome everyone to their restaurant. We get seated out in the heated courtyard with a view of the night sky. With Spring never quite arriving, plans to fill the covered backyard with edible plants keep getting pushed back just a little. Every once in a while, a chef pops out breathless and glowing from the kitchen to explain a dish, its roots, and where the ingredients were sourced. Each of the nine courses from salad to dessert was Instagram-worthy, and each patron whipped out handheld LED lamps to make sure every dish was catalogued in its full glory before taking a single bite. The standout dish of the evening was Bricolage’s own “Unshaking Beef” modeled after the traditional Vietnamese dish “Shaking Beef” (Bo Luc Lac). Because of the lack of a wok station in the kitchen, the beef has not been shaken in a wok, the “shaking” in “Shaking Beef”. Chef Lien’s lime-pepper dipping sauce balances tonight’s rich and lean tenderloin wwwhile the roasted pearl onions and scallions provide a mellow sweetness, and the side of cool watercress salad gives the dish a peppery bite of freshness. The “Unshaking Beef” with its original boneless ribeye cut is available every day at Bricolage.
At the end of the evening, a small business owner’s job is never done. The staff has already been sent home, and all of the chefs and any remaining patrons pitch in to clean up so that they can leave the restaurant in pristine condition to start all over again the next day. Peruse Bricolage’s menus at bricolage.nyc or follow @BricolageBK on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.