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.
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.