A few weeks ago I told you guys all about the Lé Mu launch party. And this weekend the pop-up finally opened. Every time I’ve mentioned their pop-up to someone, I get the exact same question: what is a pop-up? Here is an awesome infographic that can give you all of the information you could possibly want. In the case of Lé Mu, they are sharing the space with a Thai restaurant in Hampton, which is closed on Sunday, so (for now), they will be popping up in the same location, every Sunday night. The pop up concept can be a little frustrating at times. Since you’re using someone else’s space, you have to create your own identity, in a limiting location. You can’t paint it hot pink, or replace light fixtures with funky pendant lights. You have to do what you can, with what you have to work with, and then leave it the way you found it at the end of the night. I can imagine it’s challenging & tiring work, but the space looked beautiful for their opening.
I’ve complained in the past about restaurants that have ridiculously huge menus. It’s frustrating. I don’t think any restaurant in the world can do pasta, burgers, seafood, Mexican AND Asian food well. For Lé Mu, the menu is small, but the plan is for it to change every week. And even though it is small, the chef has managed to accommodate a multiple of dietary needs, including dairy free, and vegetarian. We went with a small group of friends, and between the five of us, we ordered everything on the menu. And every dish was absolutely delicious.
Sunday night, there were two appetizers on the menu: waffle breaded chicken tenders with a maple-sriracha glaze & green mango slaw, and green mango, beet & radish carpaccio with watercress & a lime & Thai basil vinaigrette. Everyone else ordered the chicken tenders, but since I knew I was going to get dessert, I wanted to make at least one healthy choice, and I’m so glad I did. I LOVED the carpaccio. It was absolutely delicious. It tasted light & fresh, and was the perfect start to my meal.
Everyone else was incredibly pleased with the chicken tenders. I had a bite of Graham’s, and they were so good. The chicken was moist, the amount of breading was perfect, and the flavor was awesome. They were sweet, with a slow building heat. A bite of the chicken, with a little bit of the slaw, was absolutely perfect.
For our entrees, most of us went with the grits. This dish was green curry grits, caramelized galanga braised pork belly & watercress.
Holy crap, this was amazing! I typically stick to goat cheese grits, so the curry was a nice surprise. The star of this was the pork belly. The pork belly had amazing flavor, and was so incredibly tender. I was starting to get full before I had finished this (and I still planned on getting dessert), so I left some of the grits behind, but the pork belly disappeared quickly.
Graham went with the vegetarian option, which was quite shocking. He had the vegetarian bahn mi, which was grilled Portobello, sweet potato pâté, and pickled mango, radish & carrots. It was served with house made beet & sweet potato chips, and it was so, so good. Graham refuses to order the same thing I order, so that we can share and try as many different things as possible. For the first time ever, I was glad he does that. I wouldn’t have ordered the bahn mi myself. I had ordered one many years ago in Little Rock, and while I liked it, it didn’t blow me away. I think it was the tofu… This tofu free version was hearty, filling and delicious. The grilled mushrooms gave it a wonderful smoky flavor, and all of the flavors just worked really well together. As good as the pork belly grits were, Graham actually said he liked this sandwich better. And don’t even get me started on the chips. They had bowls of these out every where at the launch party, and I think we all ate our weight in them!
They also offered a seafood option, which sounded & looked good, but I didn’t try it, so I can’t offer anything on that. I can talk about how good dessert was though… There were two options for dessert: a salted charred corn crème brulee (made with coconut milk, so it was dairy free) and & peanut butter masaman curry glazed doughnuts with coconut crème. YOU GUYS. These doughnuts were so, so, so good. The doughnuts themselves were deep-fried balls of deliciousness, but the curry took it to a whole new level. The curry was a really strong flavor, the coconut crème was much more mellow, and when you got a bite of doughnut with both, it just knocked your socks off.
So there you have it. Opening night at Lé Mu. If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, you HAVE to check them out. The food is top notch, the service was excellent, the portion sizes are generous and the prices are great (we had two sodas, two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert for about $50). The amazing food is all the reason you need, but if you need additional encouragement, it’s so important to get out & support local businesses. So do it. Eat local, HRVA. Eat local.