Best New Restaurant
Pink Bellies Vietnamese restaurant began as a food truck on the corner of Calhoun and St. Phillip streets at the College of Charleston in 2013. As owner Thai Phi scaled up his concept to the old Workshop food court stall on upper King Street and then found its permanent home back down lower King Street, he kept his humble beginning in mind. “When we think about who we are, we still think about us as a food truck,” Phi told City Paper.
Pink Bellies’ garlic noodles encapsulate the restaurant’s bumpy journey when they were impeded by the COVID-related shutdown. “When we started the restaurant, we could not get the egg noodles that we were using for years,” he said. “All of our recipes are based on the texture and cook time — the way that noodle paired with the sauce.”
Phi ended up creating a partnership to set up a distribution chain for that particular noodle. “Turning that negative into something positive, that is how everything has been for us during the pandemic.”
For Phi, the minimalist yet detailed design of the newly opened space manifests the eclecticism he brings to his menu. “Our entire kitchen is pretty much exposed, so when our customers come in they can hear the cooks talking, they can hear the ticket runner going, for better or for worse. We share that side of cooking with our customers, which is a little bit different for Charleston.”
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