The Emeryville Public Market will be adding a new food stall to complement their growing selection of street foods. Nyum Bai Cambodian Street Cuisine is the latest ethnic establishment recruited by the Public Market to help round out their renovated food hall vision. Chef Nite Yun has been honing her craft over the past two years by operating a series of pop-up events and is hoping to plant roots in Emeryville as the Market Hall’s latest offering.
Yun was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand and immigrated with her family to Stockton when she was a little girl. She grew up eating traditional Cambodian food, but could never find authentic dishes upon moving to the Bay Area. She decided to take matters into her own hands.
Yun describes her approach to Cambodian food as “traditional” with many of her recipes coming from her family. “Whatever I’m cooking is what I learned from my mom. This is the food I grew up eating. Food I began missing when I moved out here for school.” Nyum Bai not only wants to celebrate Cambodia’s cuisine, it wants to celebrate Cambodian pop-culture by showcasing its music to a new audience.
Yun began her journey by testing dishes like ‘Kuy Teav’, a Cambodian noodle soup, at regular pop-up events at places like Temescal Brewery and Forage Kitchen. Once she felt she had command of her dishes, she sought to supplement her business chops through the La Cocina Incubator in SF. La Cocina is a nonprofit that helps talented food entrepreneurs, primarily immigrant women and women of color, to formalize and grow their businesses. “Nite’s hard work, attention to detail and the real will with which she brings the product to market are exciting at any time, but especially now” noted La Cocina’s Executive Director Caleb Zigas.
Public Market Senior Vice President Tim Bacon took note of Yun’s progress through their involvement with La Cocina and approached her about bringing her food to the Public Market. “I didn’t know what to expect. I held a tasting and they loved everything”. Yun was subsequently offered a temporary, affordable space at the Public Market to showcase and develop her talents.
At the end of Yun’s six month “residency”, she will have the opportunity to extend her lease for an additional six months with an opportunity to sign a longterm lease in another stall at its conclusion. The Market will then offer this “turnkey” stall to another tenant with the hopes that this will help jumpstart another local business.
“I’ve been coming here [the Public Market] as a customer since I moved to West Oakland from SF two years ago” Yun noted in a brief conversation. “I see the potential in Emeryville. It’s growing and to be part of this from the start is going to be a great experience.”
For those not familiar with Cambodian food, it has a lot of ingredient overlap with Thai food but different spices and flavors. Additional menu items that Nyum Bai will be serving include Nom Pachok (rice vermicelli with coconut milk curry and banana blossom), Lort Cha (Stir-fry noodles with garlic and crispy pork belly) and Bai Treap (sticky rice treats). “I’m going to eventually feature some dishes I discovered on my recent travels back there.”
Nyum Bai is slated to hold their soft opening on Friday from 4 – 8 p.m. as well as a few day shifts over the weekend until Nite has a grip on her kitchen processes. She’s hoping to announce a Grand Opening date with a full menu and hours next week. “I’m excited to share Cambodian food with Emeryville. It’s an undiscovered cuisine that people need to know about!”
The Public Market will be hosting a benefit for La Cocina and its mission on March 12th.