July 13, 2010 | Short Order

Stephen Duong opens Co Ba in Chelsea serving Vietnamese street food inspired by sabbatical

 
Steven Duong has opened Co Ba in a charming, narrow storefront in Chelsea. Photo: Steven Richter

        Stephen Duong, a pioneer of Vietnamese cooking in New York, at Cyclo, Nam, O Mai and Tet has opened Co Ba in a narrow but smartly designed storefront in Chelsea.  Duong closed Tet and sold O Mai two years ago to spend a sabbatical absorbing food ways in his native country. Two weeks ago he opened this 32-seat cubby with Kien Truong as a partner, and Jenny Do in the kitchen delivering his versions of street stall food in Vietnam.  “I wanted it to be authentic with the extra twist these cooks, give to their food,” he says. Co Ba Means Miss #2 which is how most of these anonymous women cooks in alley stalls are known, he says, Miss #1, Miss #2. Miss #3. What they do is based on what they buy in the market that day.  At the moment Duong is making watermelon pickle and working on ways to use corn, exploring the Green Market.

Grilled pork with country ham and shallot crisps over rice ravioli with chili-lime sauce. Photo: Steven Richter

        A $14 noodle dish of grilled honey plum glazed pork with country ham and shallot crisps over ravioli noodles was a hit at our table, following half a dozen delicious $5 and $6 starters: spring rolls to wrap in lettuce leaves, fried chili pepper calamari, grilled lemongrass baby back ribs and marvelous steamed coconut rice cakes topped with ground pork, jicama, roasted sun-dried shrimp and more shallot crisps. 110 9th Ave between 17th and 18th streets. (212) 414-2700

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