Introducing the International District to the unorthodox pairing of wine and pho, highly anticipated Pho Bac Súp Shop restaurant and Vita Uva natural wine shop are now open at 1240 S Jackson St.
Pho Bac, of course, is Seattle’s original pho producer, with locations in the ID, Rainier Valley, and Denny Triangle serving a concise menu of delicious Vietnamese noodle soups and banh mi sandwiches. Now, three of the founders’ children, including Yenvy Pham, have added the hip, modern Súp Shop, whose vibe is something along the lines of the upbeat, neon-tinged Ba Bar, and whose robust menu adds a short-rib version to the expected pho lineup along with bar snacks like pho rolls (with pho noodles fried in a brown-rice wrapper), prawn ceviche, tofu or pork sausage sliders, and something called “Unfortunate Cookie Mix” made with peanuts, fortune cookies, chili oil, and black sesame.
A full bar serves cheap beer and some off-the-wall spirituous concoctions — Seattle Met has details about a shot that combines whiskey with pho aromatics chased by broth, for example — but also prominently features low-intervention wines by the glass and bottle from Vita Uva, which also has a retail wall in the restaurant with about 45 selections at the moment. The ID’s first natural wine store is run by Suzi An, an Eater Young Guns award winner and former creative director of operations for Edouardo Jordan’s powerhouse restaurant duo, Junebaby and Salare.
When she first told Eater about the business, An said she wanted to explore the interesting lives of grapes, and she’s also hoping to change perceptions of wine alongside Asian cuisines. “Not a lot of people think of wine with pho — or Thai or Korean for that matter — so it’s about asking, Why not have wine with these foods?”
For example, she says bright, acidic whites like Battenfield-Spanier riesling or Arndorfer grüner veltliner from Austria pair beautifully with spicy foods or Sup Shop’s twice-fried jumbo chicken wings with tamarind sauce. “They’re so fucking good, sweet and salty with a touch of fruity sourness, and all I could think about was sparkling wine or the grüner or the riesling,” she says. “A dry-style pho bowl with dipping broth for the noodles would complement lighter red wines.”
An says she sold a few bottles by hand before officially opening the shop, and neighbors she’s talked to are really excited that there’s going to be something this different close to them. “They’re excited to interact and learn from someone about natural wine rather than aimlessly wandering a store,” she says. “I curated my wines because I’m passionate about the producers and stories and have a connection to every single bottle, so it’s awesome to talk to people about their stories, and I think it gets them more invested in the wine as well.”
If An and Pham have their way, wine and pho could become as iconic a pairing as beer and bratwurst — or be a complete flop. “Someone might prove me wrong!” An admits. “But we want to do something different and you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Pho Bac Súp Shop is currently open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Vita Uva is currently open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the likelihood of weekend hours to follow.