Mike Tran is back; for months, the chef/owner of Chinatown izakaya Tiger Den has been teasing his Instagram followers with pictures from a new concept called Mein (pronounced "min"), but hasn't said anything about the concept or when it will open.
It's time to fill in the details.
Tran tells CultureMap that Mein means "noodles" in Cantonese, and noodles are what will drive the new 4,000-square-foot restaurant that's located a block off the intersection of Bellaire and Corporate on Clarewood Dr.
When it opens in June, Mein will feature an Art Deco look that references China during the 1930s and '40s.
When it opens in June, Mein will feature an Art Deco look that references China during the 1930s and '40s, which is essentially the Chinese counterpart to Tiger Den's decor. The food, however, will be totally different; it's not another ramen shop.
"We’re still going back to the basic food that Cantonese or Asian people are eating," Tran says. "Pretty much, it’s a representation of Cantonese (cuisine) in Asia. You have Cantonese in Vietnam, you have some Cantonese in Hong Kong and Cantonese in Malaysia. I’m bringing some of those flavors here."
As at Tiger Den, Mein's egg noodles, available both thick and thin, will be made in house. "Basically, it's an alkaline noodle," Tran explains. "We’re still playing around with the texture. We want to get it right."
Those noodles will be available a variety of preparations that include soup and stir-fried. Mein will offer 10 to 12 set bowls of soup with topping that include everything from brisket to pig's feet, or diners can create their own. Whatever the toppings, Tran says that the broth is key. "The broth that we make here takes about 12 to hours to make. It’s the opposite of ramen. Ramen is very high heat, constantly boiling. This is more like consommé: very slow, very clear soup base."
The rest of Mein's menu is still under development, but Tran shares a draft that shows a variety of small and medium sized plates that all sound intriguing: tea-smoked egg with caviar, fried wontons, pot stickers, shrimp rolls and orange chicken wings with salted egg yolk. Large plates include roast pork, roast duck and braised items.
"We’re pretty much serving the basic stuff that Asians eat, which is pork, rice noodles, egg noodles and rice," Tran explains. "It’s very basic food."