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Comics, coffee, and donuts collide at Chicago’s very first “hand-drawn monochrome 2-dimensional illusionary restaurant,” 2d. Even better, the café will actually be the very first of its kind in the U.S.
2d Restaurant is the vision of Chef Kevin Yu and his wife, local interior designer Vanessa Vu. The eatery, which is setting up shop at 3155 N Halsted St, seeks to transport you into your very own comic universe using black-and-white hand-drawn illusions.
Prior to 2d, Yu was the managing partner for a couple of ramen shops in Chicago. He says the pandemic has provided him with the opportunity to spend more time with his family while researching different dining trends and recipes. “I am recreating and showcasing different Asian flavors that are missing in Chicago,” he explained. “I want to bring smile to people’s face when they taste my food.”
An immersive experience is vital to 2d’s concept. “We were really looking at the post-pandemic life and realized we need to do something for our community to bring some joy to their life,” Yu says. Inspired by the Netflix show Emily in Paris, 2d Restaurant was designed by Vu and painted by local Chicago artist Mia Larson.
“We’re bringing our guests into a two-dimensional Paris,” says Yu. The design includes a balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower and a Parisian taproom.
At the incredibly Instagrammable 2d, even three-dimensional objects are dressed to appear like 2-D pieces. For example, Vu has installed a French claw-foot bathtub that has been has redesigned to look like a drawing, but visitors can actually step into it.
Next come the delicious eats, which Yu is excited to say will also be a first for Chicago. 2d will feature made-to-order phin coffee and pon de ring donuts. Both Yu and his wife are first-generation Asian-Americans, and he says it’s important to them to bring some of their favorite flavors to Chicago.
Phin coffee is a style of Vietnamese coffee brewed through a stainless steel chamber. “It’s the perfect combination of French press coffee and drip coffee,” says Yu, and it has the benefit of being low-waste because the filters are reusable. “It creates the most aromatic coffee and the purest flavor possible,” Yu added.
2d Restaurant has partnered with Metropolis Coffee Company, who will supply a two coffee blends custom-made for the café. The coffee program will be completely customizable, and 2d will offer seven latte varieties and three class phin-style options, including black and cold brew. All coffee will be made-to-order.
Also called a mochi donut, the pon de ring donut is made with tapioca flour and mochi powder so it tends to be lighter and more airy than the a traditional American donut. 2d’s pon de ring donuts will come in bright colors and seasonal fruit flavors like passion fruit and mango. Yu says there will be up to 13 flavors to choose from.
To accompany the coffee and donuts, Yu has created a fusion fried chicken recipe inspired by Japanese chicken karaage and Korean fried chicken. The chicken will come with a variety of sweet-savory sauces and as sandwiches as well.
Yu says he hopes for a mid-February opening, but those plans will depend on the course of the pandemic. He wants to ensure safety for the community first and foremost.