Nov. 15, 2017 By Christian Murray
SUNNYSIDE – A Woodside restaurateur has opened a Vietnamese eatery on Queens Boulevard and aims to lure customers with his noodles.
Bryan Chunton, who was raised and lives in Woodside, opened “Zen Yai,” which means “big noodle” in Vietnamese, this summer at 45-04 Queens Blvd. where “Blu Orchid” was located until spring.
The establishment, which can seat about 30 guests, offers a variety of noodle dishes, rice bowls, soups and an assortment of coffee.
Chunton previously owned and operated four restaurants in Colorado during his early 20’s before returning to Woodside nine years ago to spend more time with his family.
He credits learning “the art of flavor and food design” from his family from which he drew inspiration.
“My father was a chef at Mezzaluna, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, but at home he always made noodles for my siblings and I,” Chunton said.
“What I’m doing is taking his simple home recipes and bringing it to Sunnyside, where I believe there’s a demand for simple but delicious noodle dishes.”
Such dishes include a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle, which includes shaken beef, a crispy pork spring roll, crushed peanuts and salad.
The restaurant’s signature dish, Zen Yai Pho, features large noodles, braised beef shank, beef ball, tendon, ox tail and sliced “eye of round” in a 12 hour beef broth, served with jalapeno, basil and lime.
For under $9, customers can also order jasmine rice bowl options that includes Southern Curry, Crispy Fish & Leek, Pepper Steak or Crispy Pork Belly & Gallan, all served with fried egg.
Artwork by local students is currently up on display in the restaurant, which Chunton says he would like to rotate with Queens artists.
“I’m a Queens native, so I think its important that we continue to support one another and raise each other up every time we get the chance,” he said.
Hours of operation at Zen Yai are:
Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 10:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Sunday: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Orders can be placed for pickup or delivery by ordering online through their website at www.zenyainoodle.com.