Vietnamese fusion restaurant Pink Bellies will open with takeout-only on Sunday, March 28. First reported by Eater Carolinas, the menu will feature spicy lamb dumplings, garlic noodles — a Pink Bellies favorite — crispy avocado fries, a double patty pho mai burger and more.
Pink Bellies earned an energetic following with its saucy garlic noodles and dumplings in 2016, when owner Thai Phi launched the concept — first, as a food truck, then later as a pop-up and stall at Workshop. For the past year, Phi has taunted Instagram followers with photos of the house-made milk bread, bao buns and other Vietnamese-inspired dishes he’s been testing inside the mysterious 595 King St. space that’s still covered in plastic wrap.
Phi’s takeout menu will feature several favorites from his early Pink Bellies days, along with new items like chicken fried pork ribs and com tam, a Vietnamese dish made using fractured rice grains. But, we imagine Phi will have trouble making enough garlic noodles to feed fans who have been patiently waiting for the restaurant to open — the pandemic delayed Pink Bellies’ opening for more than a year, after a successful Kickstarter campaign helped him raise funds to lease the space.
According to Phi — who was born in a Thailand refugee camp during his parents’ immigration to the United States, where they ended up in San Francisco — the garlic noodles are “a Bay-area thing that we’ve adapted to Charleston.”
“Other dishes are inspired by my aunt’s kitchen and my grandma’s kitchen in Vietnam,” Phi told the City Paper in January. “Dishes that really you don’t see on any other menus at all — dishes that are only really present at someone’s house in Vietnam. Our menu is kind of everywhere, but it’s based on my life.”