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Umamicue offers prime brisket and more.
Aliya Ikhumen/Eater Chicago

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This Pop-Up Brings a Touch of Smoke to Vietnamese and Chinese Cuisine

Umamicue delivers smoked brisket banh mi and smoked crab rangoon in Logan Square

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Charles Wong has been bringing his pop-up, Umamicue, around bars and taprooms, all over Chicago since 2019. He’s told the story numerous times. He traveled to Austin, Texas, and fell in love with Texas-style smoked meats, particularly with Franklin Barbecue, a beloved spot that’s even earned James Beard recognition.

Wong would leave finance to concentrate on Umamicue, which combines Vietnamese and Chinese food with American barbecue techniques. His prime brisket routinely sells out, and he also uses smoked meats to give banh mi and other traditional menu items a little kick.

A smiling chef
Charles Wong has merged smoked meat and Asian flavors.

Earlier in April, Wong found a semi-permanent home in Logan Square, taking over the kitchen at Spilt Milk, a dive bar on the corner of Fullerton and California. The bar has tried a few different vendors to feed its customers. Wong and his unique items like smoked brisket egg rolls, shaking beef sausage, and smoked crab rangoon, will take up residency at the bar three days a week. Wong will continue to build his customer base over the weekends by popping up at other bars. From time to time, he’ll also serve up more homestyle items like stews and soups. It’s an evolving concept with Wong happily experimenting with his customers reaping the benefits.

Check out the photos below.

Umamicue at Spilt Milk, 2758 W. Fullerton Avenue, open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, also available via Uber Eats.

Banh mi.
Banh mi comes in brisket, pork belly, or shaking beef.
A bowl of potato salad with a glass of beer
Potato salad with a Vietnamese nuoc cham twist.
The Spilt-Milk team has a variety of cocktails ready for customers.
Chef approves of this one.

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