Since stopping by in August, Gut Check has been anticipating the opening of Hooked (8613 Olive Boulevard; 314-997-8886) in the old Pho Long space. There have been several bureaucratic hiccups causing delays (most recent issue: the restaurant was sent the wrong liquor license), but general manager Tuyen Hua can finally look toward the finish line.
"Our grand opening will be November 15," he says with minimal apprehension. Several of Hua's menu items he previewed for Gut Check made it onto the lunch menu, such as the Po' Boys. According to Hua, Bob's Seafood was the primary source of the restaurant's fresh seafood. The lunch menu also features appetizers, soup, seafood plates and pasta ranging from $5-$14. The dinner menu was still being finalized during our visit, but will also feature the crab legs that he promised on Gut Check's initial report. The menu still pulls from a variety of influences, but will have a more focused point on southeast Asian flavors.
"Originally I wanted to have more Cajun food, but that's not my strength," Hua says. "There is still some of that, but also a fusion with French-inspired French-Vietnamese cooking."
The New England clam chowder ($5) was thinner than its Northeast comrades, but the sturdy potato chunks and fresh clams were right on point (there was even a clam shell in the chowder, clam intact). The lightly battered and fried coconut shrimp plate ($11) comes with steamed or seasoned rice, which has egg, onion and a spice rub on top, and a sweet chili dipping sauce.
One area of the restaurant that still requires finishing touches is the bar, which still contains bare shelves. A flat screen television anchors the wood and glass bar with several stools.
Hua says that Hooked will always feature $1.50 Budweiser and Bud Lights. Hua emphasized the community feel he desires with Hooked, stating that he wanted to avoid the clique-like atmosphere that some other restaurants create.
"We wanted to make the restaurant comfortable," Hua says.