Sap Sua Vietnamese restaurant, bakery in Denver opened by up-and-coming chefs

Sunday Vinyl’s eating room was packed prior to 5 p.m. at a distinctive supper previous week to rejoice the lunar new year, and to preview what is still to appear at a different Denver restaurant.

Blessed purple paper streamers and lanterns ended up strung about at the downtown eatery, which was web hosting a popup for the evening. Six dishes that drew from aspects of common Vietnamese cooking were served with thoughtful additions and art-like presentation.

By the start out of the lunar new calendar year (Tet in Vietnamese), Sap Sua was the closest it’s appear to fruition.

For the past two decades, husband-and-wife cooks Anthony, 33, and Anna Nguyen, 30, have been operating toward opening their initially cafe, Sap Sua. The name interprets from Vietnamese to “about to be” or “almost.” Now, a site is virtually finalized, and the Nguyens hope by year’s end they’ll be serving fashionable Vietnamese cuisine in an intimate restaurant location.

The food at Sunday Vinyl begun with spot prawn crudo in excess of chewy rice sheets (Banh Cuon Tom) and ended with a smoky banana leaf-steamed rice in broth with braised pork and quail egg (Banh Tet Thit Kho). Each individual of the dishes was intended to be surprising at initially glance, and then evoke pure nostalgia just after the 1st chunk.

Anna and Anthony Nguyen speak to ...

Casey Wilson, Unique to The Denver Article

Anna and Anthony Nguyen communicate to the team at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder before 1 of their Sap Sua pop-ups, on Nov. 16, 2021.

“It’s the emotion we want to give to company who grew up Vietnamese and want to see them selves represented in the culinary community,” Anthony informed The Denver Publish after the meal. “I feel it is a real representation of what we want to convey to Sap Sua when we do open.”

The meal resonated with a packed dwelling. “A good deal of the dining home was Vietnamese, and a further great portion was persons who rejoice the lunar new year,” Anna noticed. Anthony’s moms and dads flew in from California just for the situation.

“This was the 1st time they’ve at any time had my cooking, not just me cooking at a restaurant,” he stated. “It was the most important aid for me, when my mom and dad just mentioned, ‘We’re proud of you.’ “

Anthony was in university for nursing when he to start with started off doing the job in the kitchen area at his mom’s Orange County pho cafe and learned a authentic passion for cooking. In the meantime, Anna was finding out the planet of pastry at Very little Chicken Bakeshop in Fort Collins. The pair satisfied while attending culinary faculty at the Intercontinental Culinary Heart (considering that closed) outside the house of San Jose, Calif.

“I fell in adore with him at the very same time that I fell in like with (Vietnamese) food items,” Anna explained. “I adore the vibrant flavors, I really like the herbs, I really like the mix of umami and acid.”

Following doing work in L.A. for six decades at award-profitable dining establishments Animal and Osteria Mozza, the Nguyens moved to Longmont at the start out of the pandemic: “L.A. felt definitely challenging then,” Anna stated, “so we considered, you know, time to do it ourselves.”

The March 2020 dining space shutdown brought the pair back again to Anna’s hometown, exactly where they made the decision to lease a modest kitchen area room and provide regular Vietnamese food items for decide-up. What started off as a address for close friends and family members swiftly grew to garner a cult subsequent regionally.

With their to-go operation using off, Anthony and Anna commenced to feel more substantial. They also determined to give them selves a year at Anna’s parents’ dwelling prior to likely out on their personal to live and perform in Denver. Their prepare: to open a restaurant that signifies the initial-era American Vietnamese knowledge.

Banh Cuon Tom or spot prawn ...

Josie Sexton, The Denver Submit

Banh Cuon Tom or location prawn crudo from the Sap Sua and Pho King Rapidos lunar new calendar year popup at Sunday Vinyl on Feb. 1.

“The title (Sap Sua) took on new meaning,” Anthony mentioned of the past two several years of planning. “When you are so close to your aims, you truly will not quit grinding until you meet them.”

By 2021, Anna and Anthony have been introduced to Colorado’s Frasca restaurant group, which owns the Boulder good-eating spot and Pizzeria Locale future doorway to it, additionally neighbors Tavernetta and Sunday Vinyl in Denver. Anna’s mentor, L.A. chef Nancy Silverton, related the up-and-coming chefs to a cafe group that could help propel them.

They prepared two pop-up dinners to commence building momentum for Sap Sua’s arrival. The first was at the conclude of 2021 at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder the next was the Feb. 1 Sunday Vinyl collaboration with fellow Vietnamese chef Very long Nguyen of the food stuff truck Pho King Rapidos.

“It’s super generous of them to do this for us,” Anna claimed of the cafe, incorporating, “It was entertaining for us since Sunday Vinyl is our single most preferred restaurant in the whole point out of Colorado.”