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Tapalaya’s First-Ever Pho Pop-Up Takes Chef Anh Luu Back to Her Roots

The celebrated chef will make pho inspired by family recipes

Chef Anh Luu

“Pho is the food of my people,” says Tapalaya executive chef, 2016 Eater Young Gun finalist , and 2015 Chopped contestant Anh Luu. “I actually have a tattoo of pho on my hip.”

Luu is known for adding Vietnamese twists to the Louisiana-style dishes at Tapalaya, like using shrimp paste and lemongrass in the classic Creole and Cajun dish, crawfish étouffé. Now Luu is holding Tapalaya’s first-ever pho pop-up on Monday, October 24, from 4 to 9:30 p.m., and it will offer an a la carte menu with two versions of the iconic Vietnamese noodle soup and four Vietnamese side dishes. Reservations are recommended, but you can also try your luck without.

Luu’s pho pop-up comes on the heels of popular ramen pop-ups at Tapalaya, which Luu says she was somewhat surprised to see so well received. “I created a Facebook event page for the ramen pop-up and suddenly like 1500 people responded,” says Luu. So in part, you can thank the current ramen-splosion in Portland for Tapalaya’s first pho-dedicated pop-up.

Luu was born in New Orleans to parents who had immigrated to the United States from Vietnam. She says she grew up eating pho all the time. “It’s like the kimchi of Vietnamese food”; that is, it’s served everywhere in Vietnam.

Luu hasn’t settled an exact pho preparation, but the pop-up menu will feature one meat and one vegetarian version. Side dishes include Luu’s take on Vietnamese fish-sauce chicken wings, a dish with Vietnamese beef jerky, and for dessert, a cassava root cake, which is “like a bread pudding, only gluten-free.”


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