Union Hmong Kitchen Is Set to Open at Graze

The North Loop food hall plans to welcome chef Yia Vang at the end of this month
Chef Yia Vang's Union Hmong Kitchen concept is finding a new outlet at Graze in the North Loop
Chef Yia Vang’s Union Hmong Kitchen concept is finding a new home at Graze in the North Loop

Photo by Mary McCallum (Field Guide Inc)

Chef Yia Vang and his team plan to open his celebrated Union Hmong Kitchen at Graze Provisions and Libations on October 29—so long as the permitting process goes through, according to a press release.

For us, that means Vang’s Hmong culinary concept is set to round out a roster of eight vendors at Graze, the food hall in Minneapolis’ North Loop. And for the team at Union Hmong Kitchen, it means their first dedicated space after years of pop-ups.

“We started out in our trailer, and we were able to do so much from that tiny space, then we moved to other people’s kitchens,” Vang says in the press release. “Now this place will be just us. We’re so excited to settle in and have a home.”

Vang established himself as a Twin Cities star chef by setting up at local residencies, beginning with a trailer at Sociable Cider Werks and including Republic and Mid City Kitchen. During his rise, Vang has shone a light on Hmong cooking while taking the helm of a TPT food and culture series and garnering national attention.

At Graze, the menu is set to feature “heartier” dishes in addition to light bar snacks, noodle bowls, and sandwiches. Also expect some kind of late-night menu, plus sauces, rubs, and other pantry items for sale.

Open seven days a week, the new location is set to feature indoor and outdoor seating (yes, with heat lamps), and Vang plans to cook outside over a fire “as much as possible.”

The setting will feel casual (the press release says to look out for movie nights), and that’s somewhat in contrast to Vinai, Vang’s hotly anticipated Northeast restaurant that is still on its way. Although Vang is focusing on Hmong dishes at both Graze and Vinai, the latter will be the more “intimate” spot.

Vang’s “Vinai Feasts” will also appear in a new way at Graze. These spreads have thus far been available via catering to large groups, but the plan is to offer them to parties of two or more. “Our feasts are meals that always bring people together,” Vang says. “Not only does it showcase the flavors we love, but it’s that communal experience that is so key to the Hmong culture. You get these herbaceous, intense flavors with sauces to complement them, and you get to craft each bite.”

The Union Hmong Kitchen team also has plans for Thanksgiving, winter holidays, events, gifts, and more catering. (A larger off-site kitchen facility should accommodate events and parties.)

“Moving into Graze is like moving into a great little neighborhood,” Vang notes. “We are excited to work alongside other cool small businesses. It will be fun to be near Gerard Klass and his amazing crew at Soul Bowl; we had the best time together when he was on an episode of Relish with me. We also just teamed up for the final installment of this summer’s Vinai and Co. dinners at the St. Paul Farmers Market.”

For updates, check out InstagramFacebook, and unionkitchenmn.com.

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