28-year-old Allison Chen dreamt of leaving her job in corporate accounting to open her own restaurant, where she could serve the authentic Taiwanese comfort fare with which she grew up in a modern, attractive setting. After securing a space and putting together a menu, she was all set to open up Pi Dan Noodle House when she tragically and unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago. Now, her colleague William Lo, her boyfriend Jameson Tyler, and a group of family and friends are rallying together to open the restaurant in her honor, and have set an Indiegogo fundraising goal of $75,000 to make it happen.
The funds will be used to complete construction and install necessary equipment at Pi Dan's space, which is adjacent to Plum, Ike's, and Umami Burger at 22nd and Broadway in Uptown Oakland. Chen's onetime accounting coworker Lo, who also bailed on his corporate job to help her open the restaurant, is now the restaurant's managing partner, and chef Hai Le, a Shanghai native who's taught Asian cooking at Le Cordon Bleu, remains signed on to head up the kitchen. Boor Bridges (Trou Normand, The Mill) is behind the design of the space.
The restaurant hopes to serve authentic and affordable takes on Mandarin classics like beef noodle soup, scallion noodles, and zha jiang mian; vegetable sides; and beer and wine. It's named for the term for a preserved egg, which is a Chinese homonym for "troublemaker," Chen's father's childhood nickname for her. Donors to the campaign can learn to pull noodles with chef Le ($500), or receive a dinner for two ($250) or four ($450), including a limited edition print. If all goes well with the campaign, Lo and Chen's community of friends hope to open the restaurant in June.