Hanoi House to Picky Eaters: Tough Luck, Don’t Come

Whoever wrote this deserves some kind of award for writing blunt and rude.

In a brief statement announcing a three-month test kitchen at Hanoi House on 14th street, they announce that Maketto’s Executive Chef  and co-owner Erik Bruner-Yang is pleased to welcome diners to the temporary space beginning July 15. Maketto, over in northeast Washington, is slated to open in late 2013, but this should tide diners over until then.

Here comes the good part: a big, fat screw you to those annoyingly picky eaters that hold up a line or ruin a dining experience with their gluten-free, no dairy, sugar free, no wheat, peanut allergy or vegan requirements.

This time of experimentation will allow Bruner-Yang and the entire Maketto team, including chef de cuisine James Wozniuk, to cook food inspired by their love affair with authentic Asian street food. Hanoi House will serve dinner only at $30 per person, family-style, with no accommodations for allergies or dietary restrictions. A dim sum cart will also be available throughout the evening a la carte. The menu will change often.

Such a refreshing attitude. Here’s what you’ll pay. Here’s what you’ll eat. Here’s when you’ll eat. Don’t like it? Don’t come. We wanted to see if they’d be as rude on the phone as they were in their statement, so we channeled our inner Gene Weingarten (WaPo) and called the woman on the release: Sue-Jean Chun.

Contrary to the strict tone of the release, Chun couldn’t have been more warm or polite, and even offered to help get us a table at one of the oddball reservation times in the next few weeks since the restaurant is booking up fast. “The reason for that is he wants the food to be authentic as possible,” she explained to FishbowlDC in a phone interview in response to the announcement that dietary restrictions won’t be honored. “There are certain ingredients that would change the dishes if he had to accommodate.”

She continued, “For the whole team, it’s important. It’s really our test kitchen. We’re going through a whole series of different dishes and we’re trying to stay within the authentic lines of the food. Everything is recent in their memories [in their travels through Asia] and they really want to respect the dishes whether it’s dried chili or fish paste. It’s really tough to deal with dietary restrictions. At Toki Underground we have a vegi ramen, but since this is only three months, the whole point of this is to get our team together on dishes we need to practice on. So it’s important. We wanted to make sure everyone knew. We didn’t want someone with a gluten allergy to show up and then be so disappointed in us.”

More details on eating here…

From the statement…The Maketto residency at Hanoi House will be open six days a week, Monday-Saturday at 5 P.M. (closed on Sundays.) Space is limited and reservations are required. Reservations may be made directly online via Hanoi House’s OpenTable at www.hanoihousedc.com beginning next week, the week of July 8, 2013. Important… Reservations must be four people or less, or else it will seem like there’s no availability until the end of time.


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