Pilsen’s minimal Vietnamese food cred will get a big boost when husband-and-wife team Thai and Danielle Dang bring long-awaited HaiSous (1800 S. Carpenter St., Pilsen, no phone yet) to the nabe this fall. The 115-seat, casual-chic spot is chef/owner Thai’s first project since a messy breakup with Embeya last summer.
Now 31, Thai came to the U.S. as a Vietnamese refugee in the late 1980s. HaiSous is an ode to his roots and the couple’s years spent working together.
“We want HaiSous to really embody us, me as a chef, but also Vietnamese food that comes from my heart,” Thai says. “Vietnamese food Thai Dang–style.”
The focal point of the 25- to 30-item menu will be open-flame claypot cooking, used for such grilled and stewed Vietnamese specialties as BBQ prawns and grilled pork. Whole-fried fish of the day will be served with herbs and nuoc mam toi, or fish sauce mixed with lime juice, garlic, sugar, and chilies. And just like his mom used to, Thai will serve pho only on weekends and special occasions.
Co-owner/director of operations Danielle is overseeing HaiSous’ design via her design firm Den of Lions. The space will feature an open kitchen visible from an eight-seat chef’s counter, and furniture and fixtures imported from Vietnam. She will also helm the drink program comprising signature cocktails, cider, beer, and plenty of sparkling wine.
The name HaiSous roughly translates to “two sous” or “two pennies.” Partially hinting to the “moderately priced” menu, HaiSous more philosophically refers to the Dang’s partnership (two chefs) and building the restaurant “from pennies—clawing our way to reclaim what was ours,” Thai says. “Everything [Danielle] helped me build from before and to this day all stems from working well together."