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$20 Dinner

The Chef Behind One of Brooklyn’s Best Restaurants Is Serving Bar Food in Bushwick

Located in the back of Hart Bar, Me Tay Co is an offshoot of Eric Tran's excellent Falansai.

Bahn mi fries, $10; Umami bomb wings, $10; Dad’s egg rolls, $10; Shrimp toast, $8. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

I first ate chef Eric Tran's food right at the start of that first pandemic winter, when he had just opened Falansai in the heart of industrial Bushwick. The restaurant was takeout-only in those early days, and I grabbed my bagged-up feast from him next to the frozen koi pond in the back patio. Over the next two nights (I bought at least two dinners worth of stuff) I fell in love with Tran's duck necks, and his meaty fried rice, and his fish sauce Brussels sprouts. My man can cook.

Falansai is still going strong, of course, earning high-falutin NYC acclaim and kudos from the French tire experts at Michelin, as well as a solid following of regular folks looking for a fun night out while wolfing down Tran's big-flavored Mexican-Vietnamese fare. And then, last weekend with almost no advance warning, Tran set up a second spot in the back of Hart Bar, the sprawling, divey music venue on the corner of Bushwick Avenue. 

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The new concept is called Me Tay Co (which Tran said is how Vietnamese say "Mexico"), the menu is tight, and the whole thing came together kind of last minute. "This all happened like eight weeks ago," Tran told Hell Gate. "I met Matt Maichel, the owner of Hart Bar, and he said he's looking for someone to take over the kitchen, and I said that sounds cool. He's cool. We connected well. Good vibes. We did two popups and it worked, so I said let's go for it."  

There were four dishes available at Me Tay Co when I went last Friday—"a baseline menu of stoner bar food," is how Tran put it—and they were all delicious. A couple of these come directly from the Falansai kitchen, including Tran's signature "Dad's egg rolls," an order of which gets you a pair of funky, crisp-fried tubes stuffed with pork, wood ear mushrooms, and lettuce, with a fish sauce vinaigrette for dipping.  

Dad's egg rolls, $10. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

I could probably eat at least a dozen of those suckers, but then I wouldn't have room for a slab of Tran's shrimp toast, which is basically a soft hero roll slathered and dusted with a fantastically umami-rich topping. The chicken wings rule too, messy with the same sticky sweet-sour-spicy sauce as the Falansai duck necks. 

Shrimp toast, $8. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
Umami bomb wings, $10. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The only dish that's completely unique to Me Tay Co (so far! Tran has plans for some "crazy" stuff in the future) is the bahn mi fries which, surprisingly, are vegetarian for now and are potent and gloppy as hell. "This is like an ode to the things they do on the West Coast," said Tran. "I don't know, it's just fun." There are also a couple of paletas available via the great La Newyorkina.    

Bahn mi fries, $10. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Hart Bar has a large barroom and an even larger covered patio. Cocktails are $12 to $14, beers are all well under ten bucks, a glass of wine is $9. Downstairs is the performance space, and no matter where you are you will hear whatever band/DJ is playing that night (it was some kind of trippy screamo soundscape deal when I was there). The outdoor dining/drinking/smoking area is a ramshackle affair, which Tran intends to take full advantage of soon with an ordering window that opens out onto the sidewalk.

Outdoor seating (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

"This kitchen can pack a punch," said Tran. "The space is big, the people here are great, and there's music everywhere, which I fucking love. This is what I would want to eat sitting at the bar here." Yeah dude, me too. 

Me Tay Co is located within Hart Bar, 438 Hart Street at the corner of Bushwick Avenue, and is currently open on Tuesday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 6:00 to 2:00 a.m. 

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