Young and Hungry

Bye-Bye, Jelly Belly! U Hall Makes Room For Pho Dogs Galore

Late night nosh spot U Street Music Hall is shaking up its eclectic menu yet again. On Christmas Eve, the Northwest D.C. nightclub debuted its latest collection of interesting finger foods, including no fewer than six different variations of its original pho dog.

The various new twists on the house-made Vietnamese soup-flavored frankfurter comes at the expense of other foodstuffs. U Hall's pork belly doughnut, "sloppy cho" and curry chicken ramen brat, for instance, are no longer offered. “They were one-stop-shop kind of items, but they were fun for a little bit,” says Erik Bruner-Yang, chef-owner of Toki Underground, who regularly collaborates with U Hall co-owner Jesse Tittsworth on the music club's culinary offerings. “We want to be able to change the menu up often, keep it interesting.”

This time around, the pair have teamed up with 13th Street Meats, a one-man sausage making company run by Scott McIntosh, who also tends bar at The Big Hunt and Bread Soda. McIntosh makes all the sausages by hand out of his kitchen on 13th Street. His sausages are far from fancy charcuterie—just something “you can enjoy with a beer at the bar and not feel like you’re just eating some frozen crap,” McIntosh says.

Among the venue's new franks: the Blunted Pho Dog is a spicy half-smoke sausage, topped with five-spice Asian cole slaw, fresh basil, cilantro, lime, hoisin sauce and sriracha. The half-smoke is McIntosh’s own take on D.C.'s indigenous wienie. “The weird thing about half smokes is there’s no real agreed-upon recipe for it," he says. "So it’s, basically, you kind of have to take a half-smoke and deconstruct it. I tried a bunch of different ones and made a couple dozen test batches."

The Not Pho Real Dog, meanwhile, is made of grilled tofu, and the Pork’s Not for Me Dog is a smoked lemon basil chicken sausage, one of McIntosh’s most difficult recipes to perfect, made of half a dozen ingredients including lemon zest, lemon pulp, basil, and bell peppers.

In a few months, Bruner-Yang expects to switch up the U Hall menu once again. “Most nightclubs don’t do food or don’t do food very well, so we kind of want to show that we care,” he says.

Photo by Chris Svetlik