Nobody knows the neighborhood better than a native.
In pursuit of his lifelong passion for French and Vietnamese food, Stephan Brezinsky — who was born and raised in Alphabet City — has recently opened Chao Chao on Avenue A, which boasts cuisine geared at those whose palates are adventurous and bold.
Ending the meal on a sweet note, we shared Taro Jasmine Ice Cream served with kaffir lime meringue, toasted milk and coconut crumble, and a pickled turmeric espuma.
The atmosphere is trendy but welcoming, its white-washed brick walls adorned with green plants and an actual record player spinning the sounds of everyone from Marvin Gaye to Pink Floyd. If you’re nice, they’ll even let you choose the record. Fun fact about the bathroom: the Beastie Boys are played on a loop as tribute to the group, who recorded their first album in the restaurant space in its former life as Rat Cage Records’ recording studio.
Halfway through dinner, Chef Brezinsky’s mother made an appearance, undoubtedly to oversee the creations that she inspired. Kimxuan Brezinsky — who grew up in Saigon when it was under French influence — lives in nearby Stuyvesant Town, started her son off cooking at age two.
His journey initially took him to Hollywood as a VFX artist, which he soon left to set up shop in a popular Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, where his authentic Bretagne Crêpes won the hearts of locals.
We’re glad he’s back in Alphabet City.
Chao Chao is located at 171 Avenue A between 10th and 11th Streets. Dinner is served Monday through Sunday 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM.