Good news, Miami residents (and anyone planning a visit): the long-anticipated opening of Phuc Yea, Chef Cesar Zapata and partner Ani Meinhold’s Viet-Cajun pop-up that delighted guests in 2011, is now open in its permanent location at 7100 Biscayne Blvd.
If you know Miami’s best Latin restaurants, you’ll recognize the address. Phuc Yea is mere blocks away from Zapata and Meinhold’s The Federal, Food, Drinks and Provisions, which was recently featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and Gordon Ramsay’s Best New Restaurant. (The Federal will soon celebrate its third anniversary.)
Though new to the brick and mortar game, Phuc Yea has its own street cred: it was Miami’s first pop-up and it was so successful that it generated a movement whose progeny include Eating House and The Liar’s Club bar.
According to Meinhold, the Viet-Cajun concept was an obvious choice: Meinhold is part Vietnamese; New Orleans is home to the fourth-largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam; and Zapata’s culinary style and background includes Third Coast influences ranging from Creole, Cajun, and Tex-Mex to flavors resulting from barbecue and smoke.
“Our stars pretty much aligned,” she says, “knowing there was a tangible way to connect Cesar’s heritage to Phuc Yea alongside mine.”
Phuc Yea’s menu will be similar to that of its earlier iteration: small plate Viet-Cajun cuisine that reflects the home cooking of immigrant Vietnamese families who adapted their recipes to include local Gulf culture and ingredients. It will also highlight Zapata’s whimsical twist on classic fare, a signature that has made The Federal famous. His biscuits, for example, were named “Best Biscuits in the U.S.” by Food & Wine and were sold during the holidays last year at Williams-Sonoma.com.
Meinhold points out that the flavors and the cooking techniques at Phuc Yea and The Federal overlap. The pair will be doing a lot of smoking and open pit cooking, and will be using plenty of fresh herbs.
“What we are most excited about is being able to cook a different genre of food… It’s going to be bolder and brighter.”