Owners of a new Dinkytown restaurant hope to bring authentic Vietnamese food to campus.
Pho Mai, a new Vietnamese restaurant, will enter the former Tim Horton’s storefront at 319 14th Ave. SE. The restaurant owners signed a lease for the space last week and aim to open by February.
Owner Michael Bui said the quality of the food will outweigh the price. He will operate the store alongside his mother and co-owner Anh Bui as well as his wife Mai.
“Our noodle soups are so flavorful, they have all the traditional ingredients,” Michael Bui said. “We’re going to give a lot of food for the price.”
MT Noodles, the Buis' first restaurant located in Brooklyn Park, hints at what might be offered at the Pho Mai. The Dinkytown location will feature many of its top sellers, like pho, rice platters and salads, Michael Bui said.
Pat Phethara, a regular customer at MT Noodles, said he’s excited for the new joint.
“I like the atmosphere and the service and the people there,” he said. “When they open, we’re going to be there the first day.”
Michael Bui is not a not stranger to the neighborhood — he attended the University of Minnesota from 1992 to 1996, where he studied at the Carlson School of Management and lived in Comstock Hall. He and Mai met at the University.
“I’m excited just to offer that concept to the students … when I went to school there was no other concept like that,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be a main-stay.”
While University senior Tessa McSweeney is interested in what the new restaurant will offer, she’s also hoping they’ll bring something new amid other Asian-style restaurants in the area.
“There’d have to be something to really draw me in to go there versus another place I’ve already been,” McSweeney said.
Camdi Restaurant, serving Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine, has been in Dinkytown for more than 30 years. Num-mi, another Vietnamese restaurant, closed this month.
“That’s not necessarily bad if they do something differently that’s really good,” McSweeney said.
Michael Bui said Pho Mai’s focus on authentic food will provide a different experience than other Dinkytown spots.
He also said the restaurant will encourage customers to enjoy time and socialize with their friends and family.
“I know the University’s market so well … There was never a really authentic Vietnamese restaurant,” he said. “My goal is to make an electronic-free zone … enjoy your time with your friends and family… and we’re going to play a lot of 80s music.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the location of MT Noodles. The restaurant is located in Brooklyn Park.