It’s been a big year for chef Yia Vang, of Union Hmong Kitchen.
The stalwart food truck, long stationed at northeast Minneapolis’ Sociable Cider Werks, is humming along to more acclaim than ever. At the same time, Vang’s profile has risen as the buoyant host of TPT’s “Relish,” where he led viewers on a tour of local chefs’ personal and cultural histories through foods rich in meaning to each. Meanwhile, national media continued to seek out Vang as the Twin Cities’ emissary representing Hmong cuisine.
At long last, Vang has just announced he’s going brick-and-mortar with a concept called Vinai. The restaurant's mission is to honor the past, present and future of Hmong cooking.
The chef says Vinai will serve as a tribute to not only community, but the chef’s parents and the dishes he grew up on.
“We are an echo of the past—but we get to write our future,” said Vang. “Hmong food tells the history of our people, and the dishes I create tell the history of my parents.”
Though the exact location of the new restaurant has yet to be disclosed, Vinai is expected to open this year, thanks in part to funding from a Kickstarter set to launch in early February. More details – including a link to that Kickstarter – to follow as they become available.
Update 2:36 p.m. 1/3/20: A launch party for Vinai's Kickstarter is scheduled to take place on February 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Able Seedhouse and Brewing (1121 Quincy Street NE in Minneapolis). Interested parties are advised to check in with Vinai's social media accounts for further developments.