Les Ba’get has closed in Montrose, but fans of the restaurant’s innovative fare shouldn’t fret too much. Cat Nguyen and Angie Dang, Les Ba’get’s husband-and-wife owners, aren’t abandoning the neighborhood that’s made their restaurant a success.
For two-and-a-half years, Les Ba’get has earned raves for its innovative take on classic Vietnamese food, despite challenges like limited parking and a small kitchen that made it hard to serve diners efficiently while maintaining quality.
The owners have responded to these issues in two ways. In late spring, they’re relocating Les Ba’get to a 3,000-square-foot space in Oak Forest’s 33 1/3 at Thirtyfourth development. The new restaurant will feature the full Les Ba’get menu in a newly constructed building with lots more parking.
Rather than leaving Montrose, Nguyen and Dang have decided to convert Les Ba’get into a new concept called Les Noo’dle, which will serve pho. The new restaurant is expected to open in March.
“It was a really tough decision,” Dang says about closing Les Ba’get to convert it to Les Noo’dle. “It just made sense for the Montrose location. It was surely a blessing for us. We’re not going to leave our Montrose home. We’re just going to turn it into something else.”
Dang tells CultureMap that pho has become one of Les Ba’get’s top sellers, but the kitchen’s limited size made it hard to meet demand — as many as 300 bowls per day — while still serving the rest of the restaurant’s menu. Transforming the space into a dedicated pho restaurant will allow the couple to accommodate customer requests to add both a chicken and vegetarian broth, as well as a dry pho option (broth on the side). The new restaurant will also offer additional proteins including beef tongue, free range chicken, and quail eggs.
In addition to the new menu, Les Noo’dle will have a new interior design that will capture some of the feeling of eating at a street cart in Vietnam, but some of the old elements will remain, too. Diners will still be able to see into the kitchen to watch their meals being prepared, and the service format will be fast casual. The couple are also working on wine-based cocktails that will be available at both restaurants.
In a city full of Vietnamese restaurants that serve very similar menus, Les Ba’get’s creativity has helped it stand out. Montrose may not have very many Vietnamese options, but Midtown, for example, certainly does. Despite the competition, expect Les Noo'dle to distinguish itself.
“We’re always about fresh food and quality,” Dang says. “Like Cat said when we first started, he wanted to do something different. He wanted people to know Vietnamese food isn’t just cheap.”