An Asian restaurant is opening in Germantown, but it’s not Vietnam Kitchen as some rumors have suggested.
The owners of El Camino, The Pearl and Silver Dollar are planning a pan-Asian fast casual concept called Nê–ông Tiger at 1149 Goss Ave. to complement The Pearl, a neighborhood bar right next door. Nê–ông is Vietnamese and translates to neon.
The group — which is led by Shawn Cantley and Larry Rice — is partnering with chef David Truong of NamNam Cafe fame.
“There’s only a handful of people I would partner up with in town, and these are the people I wanted to,” Truong said, adding that he’s been looking to open a new concept. “I kind of wanted to branch into other types of Asian food.”
Truong will act as the head chef at the restaurant until it can operate without him, he said, then he will shift back to full-time at NamNam Cafe.
It’s unclear when Nê–ông Tiger will open as work won’t begin until after construction started on the new El Camino, Shawn Cantley said.
“Camino is still our No. 1 priority,” he said. Designs are still being drawn up for El Camino, and work is expected to start on the ground-up construction this spring.
Still, the restaurant will likely open before El Camino because it will require less work.
Cantley said he and his business partners originally hoped to open a food truck in the back of The Pearl, but they ran into zoning problems and other roadblocks. The house on Goss Avenue is already zoned for commercial use, Cantley said, and he and partner Rice love Truong’s cooking, so it was a natural fit.
Truong described as the future Nê–ông Tiger as “a pretty funky place,” adding that he envisions its logo with the silhouette of a tiger’s face whose ears will be the roofs atop the “e” and “o.”
The menu is still in development, but Truong said it will be inspired by his travels and feature dishes from Northern Thailand, Vietnam and Korea.
The dishes for the most part will be quick and easy eats. Truong said he might bring a couple of Vietnamese dishes over from NamNam Cafe, and the menu would include pork belly steam buns and noodle dishes.
People will be able to eat at communal tables at the restaurant or have food delivered to The Pearl. The restaurant also will offer broader delivery through a company like Postmates.
“That’s what’s so awesome about Asian food. It travels well,” he said.
The restaurant also will feature a patio in the back with seating and a walk-up ordering window. Cantley said they want to add a patio in the back of The Pearl as well, so The Pearl guests can use that as another option to order food.
Plans for the restaurant are still in the preliminary stages, but Cantley said he expected it to come together quickly.
“It’s definitely going to happen, but there is still a lot of stuff to do,” he said.