BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Vietnamese food and American-style donuts may not sound like they go together. But for Matt Storch, one of the partners behind nom-eez and Donut Crazy in Bridgeport, the "why not?" concept offers something fun and gives diners options for breakfast, lunch and dinner all under one roof.
"I want people to be happy when they eat," said Storch.
He's also, as the chef/owner of nom-eez as well as Match in South Norwalk, trying to open folks' eyes to what Vietnamese food is -- to make them less afraid of trying it -- and make it more mainstream.
Nom-eez, in Bridgeport's Black Rock neighborhood, offers counter service, takeout and limited delivery. It also offers a sense of playfulness. Nom-eez, said Storch, is both (Viet)Namese (get it?) and a play on words—“eat easy, snack easy.”
According to Storch, you can come in, pull up a stool, have a bowl of pho or grab something to go. Beyond pho, wonton soup and vegan dishes, the menu includes lighter snacks such as egg rolls, see-through rolls (a.k.a. Vietnamese spring or summer rolls), soup dumplings and nom nom buns stuffed with braised pork, sashimi or vegetables.
For something a bit more filling, you’ll find grilled caramel and lemongrass chicken thighs, coconut braised pork and a steamed fish that Storch said he had to put on the menu after sampling his mother-in-law’s. “She made it for me one day and I was sold," he said. His mother-in-law works the kitchen, and, in fact, was the inspiration behind this concept.
The down-home goodness of Mama Ty Phung’s food convinced Storch that it deserved to be shared with the masses. Everything is prepared without MSG, using meat and bones from Fleishers Craft Butchery, Westport’s whole animal butcher shop. Plus, Storch sources fresh produce from as nearby as possible — including Mama’s own herb garden.
And then there's the sugar rush, with nom-eez serving as a satellite shop for Donut Crazy. Among the popular varieties you'll find here: the cannoli donut (filled with ricotta, then sealed with mini chocolate chips and powdered sugar), and the Kookie Monster (frosted in vanilla with a familiar blue hue and loaded with crushed Chips Ahoy cookies).
The idea for combining Vietnamese with donuts harks back to when Storch and his Match business partners, Shelton resident Jason Wojnarowski (owner of Donut Crazy) and Susan McConnell, of Norwalk, began talking expansion. Then it struck them: Why not create a place where all three meals of the day are served and throw in donuts for fun?
Since opening in Bridgeport in April 2016, they have been a hit and have plans to duplicate the concept, albeit on a smaller scale, in Westport within the month. It will be located in the train station in the same space where Steam had been.
Because there's no kitchen there, however, Storch said they will offer donuts, Shearwater coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice (the Bridgeport locale uses items from Storch's sister's place Catch A Healthy Habit in Fairfield), simple breakfast sandwiches as well as grab-and-go foods from the Nom-eez side of the menu.
"We're still trying to figure it out based on using an electric grill," he said. No official name has been settled on yet for the new eatery.
And, there will be an added convenience. Storch says commuters will be able to place orders on the train and have their items ready upon arrival at the Westport station.
As for more nom-eez and Donut Crazy combinations, Storch expects the two will continue to grow. "Will they grow together in the same spot? I'm not sure," he said. "That depends on the spaces we find." It may be, he said, they grow separately. (For the record, Donut Crazy just opened another outlet across from the Yale Library in New Haven.)
What you can expect, of course, are the "happy bellies" Storch likes catering to. "For me," he said, "It's all about easy eats."
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