Chef Brandon Jew (Bar Agricole) announced his plans for a Chinatown restaurant over two years ago, and he’s now finally nearing the finish line. Since securing the old Four Seas location, Jew completely gut renovated the space to make room for Mister Jiu’s — "[The last tenants] kind of left it really in rough shape," he diplomatically told Eater — having to replace the entire kitchen and flooring, widen the shafts, reinforce the structural beams, install new electricity, plumbing and insulation and more. As for what's left? "We have to waterproof the floor, tile everything, we still have to install the bar, install all equipment in the restaurant and kitchen. We still have a bunch of custom detailed metalwork and woodwork. There is a considerable amount still to happen," Jew said.
In between overseeing the construction, Jew has been hiring cooks and fine-tuning the menu. He's staying mum on who he's hired as they haven't given notice yet, but he did tease that he thinks "it's going to be even that much more exciting of an opening" when he can divulge names. He did share that he settled on the idea to serve banquet-style food.
"We want people — no matter what size, if it’s a two-top or eight-top — to experience a banquet and have basically a lot of different bites. We're trying to figure out the best format to allow that."
He envisions what boils down to a tasting menu for people to get to try as much of the menu as possible, though a la carte ordering would also be an option. Like traditional banquet menus, the food will be broken into categories, though unlike most menus, it won’t be by protein. Rather, Jew will group dishes by eight styles. "We’re trying to determine what those categories are, versus just poultry or fish. More like a sequence of how a banquet would come out to you," he said.
Jew is pushing for a mid-March opening, but he’s still fundraising to get that done. He launched a Kickstarter this week, hoping to raise $50,000 to push the project past the finish line. "I don’t have money right now for my working capital, and I don’t have money even for some design ideas I have," he said. "I still need $200,000 to finish the project. When it comes down to asking people for money, it's been new skills I've had to learn. I'm looking forward to when it’s over and I can start cooking. I can't wait."