New dishes at Mov pop up kitchen by Chef Yia Vang debuted on Friday, June 16, 2023 Credit: Hilltribe

Hmong-American Chef Yia Vang named his newest pop-up concept in Minneapolis after the Hmong word for “rice,” but he doesn’t want you to think about it too much.

“Nah, man, like we just grew up eating rice. Do you know what I’m saying? Don’t dig deeper into this. We love food. We love rice,” Vang said.

The name of the concept at 901 W. Lake Street, Mov (pronounced “maw”), also means “food” or “sustenance” in the Hmong language. The menu debuted June 16, and features a handful of Hmong rice dishes and two salad options.

Vang’s decision to focus on the importance of rice honors the first food he learned to cook with his mother. It’s also an ode to a staple in Hmong cuisine that isn’t often discussed, but would make meals incomplete with its absence, according to Vang.

“Every dish or every item that we have here, the rice might play like second fiddle to it, but without the rice that dish isn’t that dish,” Vang said.

Vang’s most recent pop-up concept, Mee-Ka, closed with the opening of Mov, which is located in the same building as Mee-Ka and Vang’s first pop-up, Slurp. Vang said his kitchen pop ups change every three months, but some aspects might remain or be used as inspiration for future dishes.

Vang said anybody who cooks tells a story about themselves through their dishes. He compared cooking to a musician composing a song, specifically Dolly Parton and how some of her songs are catchy but take on a different meaning once you know the inspirations behind them.

“Once you find that story and you follow the literal, sometimes cookie crumb, you get to the best story. Once you’re there, man, you get an opportunity to connect with the souls of the humans from the hands that made that,” Yang said.

Mov’s menu consists of simple dishes that Vang said are composed of ingredients that he felt worked together well and of course were complimented by the rice.

“Some of the best dishes I’ve had are just simple dishes that come from a deep, deep like soul story,” Vang said. 

The following items are on the menu:

  • Five-Spice Braised Beef, made with beef brisket, seasonal vegetables, and an oyster-garlic sauce. 
  • Thai Basil Chicken, made with stir-fried eggplant and a sweet tamari glaze.
  • Pork and Greens, made with Hmong sausage, sauteed greens, and Kua Txob hot pepper sauce.

Tofu and Mushroom dish made with miso-ginger sauce, a callback to the wildly popular Shroomama Ramen dish of the Slurp noodle menu.

The Mov menu will run throughout the summer, according to Vang. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Alfonzo Galvan is a reporter for Sahan Journal, covering work, labor, small business, and entrepreneurship. Before joining Sahan Journal, he covered breaking news and immigrant communities in South Dakota,...