Cool World (905 Lorimer St.) opened last month in the space that previously housed Xilonen, across from McCarren Park. The newcomer has Chef Quang Nguyen at the helm in his first post as Executive Chef.
Nguyen comes with an impressive resume, years of experience, and a relaxed mentality. He’s a cool guy. And he may be just the thing to break the curse at 905 Lorimer.
Greenpointers spoke with Nguyen about the food at Cool World, his past experience at some of New York’s best restaurants, and his favorite things about Greenpoint.
Greenpointers: Welcome to the neighborhood! Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you here?
Chef Quang Nguyen: Prior to cooking in kitchens, I was working front of house in Texas. After I helped open a couple of restaurants here in New York, I was done with front of house and wanted to start cooking.
I started at Má Pêche and stayed there for 4 years. Then, I went to ABC Kitchen for one year, and then I was at Cosme for a year and a half.
After that I had my first big opportunity at Wildair as a sous chef. It was one other sous chef and I. Eventually, the other sous chef left, and I ran Wildair as the only sous chef. I left Wildair last May and have been doing pop-ups before coming to Cool World.
Greenpointers: How did you land the gig as Executive Chef at Cool World?
Chef Quang Nguyen: Well, it was through friends! Some of my friends said I should meet with owners of Cool World. I was sold on the idea that they wanted Cool World to be the best party in town. There was a hospitality aspect to it that I could relate to.
Greenpointers: How has the neighborhood response been? Have you been busy?
Chef Quang Nguyen: We opened on July 27th, and the first week was nice and steady, but we are not as busy as we would like to be.
But, in general, there has been a good response from the neighborhood. There are kitchen veterans here and lots of people in the food industry have stopped by.
We want this place to be a neighborhood spot. We want it to be inclusive. That’s the idea behind the name. If you come here, you should feel like one of the cool kids, in an inclusive way.
Greenpointers: The former tenants, Xilonen and Sauvage, did not make it. Do you think you can make Cool World a success?
Chef Quang Nguyen: I’ve heard the rumblings about the location being cursed. But what’s cool about that is the lack of pressure. Some people think we will fail because we are in the space. We can excel without any pressure. Any pressure we have is self-imposed. And we don’t expect to fail.
Greenpointers: So far, what is the most popular menu item at Cool World?
Chef Quang Nguyen: The fish is selling a lot. It’s a pan-roasted skate wing cooked in butter. It comes with a pho broth, but not a traditional one. I wanted to keep it pescatarian, so instead of beef bones, I used mushroom. It has charred onion, ginger, star anise, cloves, and is finished with brown butter and lemon juice.
The idea behind some of the food is a nod to the Odeon and other 1990’s brasseries. I’m not a French cook by trade, so I don’t know if the food will taste French, but we will take inspirations from those menus. We use influences from other countries and cultures, too.
There is also a BBQ mushroom sandwich on Cool World’s menu that is completely vegan. We know some people will miss Xilonen, and we want to cater to them and include them.
Greenpointers: What is your favorite food to make when you’re at home?
Chef Quang Nguyen: Fried chicken is my number one. I don’t cook a lot at home. I know some chefs do and some don’t. I don’t. But I love fried chicken. I even added a fried chicken sandwich to the menu at Cool World.
Greenpointers: What’s your favorite thing about Greenpoint so far?
Chef Quang Nguyen: Greenpoint has a high saturation of good restaurants and bars. So many have popped up recently. Like Nura and Fulgurances. There is a boom, and it’s cool to be a part of that.
Greenpointers: What is your favorite Greenpoint restaurant aside from Cool World?
Chef Quang Nguyen: The burger at Bernie’s was great. So, Bernie’s is a standout in recent memory. I also love Fulgrances. I have been a few times. I try to go every time they switch chefs. I also like hanging out at Safehouse.
Congratulations. Quang Bố. Wishing
You are the best Son .
One day Bố mẹ will come to. New York
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