At Snō, the new restaurant from married chefs Tony and Jessica Nguyen, your first bite of food might arrive even before a server has brought you a glass of water. And it will be rolled to your table on an old library cart repurposed for dim sum.
“I hate waiting for food,” Tony said during an interview in Snō’s second-floor lounge last week. “And I always come hungry, right? So I want to make sure there’s food on the table. This is kind of essentially like our bread service, if you will. There’s always something to snack on.”
Library-cart dim sum. Tuna “cigars” served in an actual cigar box that opens with a puff of smoke. The words of the late chef, author and TV star Anthony Bourdain adorning the wall of one dining room.
Snō, which debuts Friday (Aug. 19) at 3611 Juniata Street in Tower Grove South, is a high-profile, swing-for-the-fences opening of a kind that harkens back to the pre-COVID dining era.
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Snō is also a homecoming for Tony, a St. Louis native. (Qui Tran of Mai Lee and Nudo House used to babysit him.) He and Jessica named the restaurant after his mother, Tuyet, which means snow in Vietnamese. Her signature rolls with Kurobuta pork, rock shrimp and jicama will be a menu staple.
Tony returns to St. Louis with an impressive resume. Most recently, he was for 8 years the executive chef of Crustacean, the Beverly Hills, California, restaurant of the celebrated chef Helene An.
The Nguyens describe Snō as a modern Asian restaurant with a focus on seafood — more specifically, sustainable seafood. Tony once worked for the leading sustainable-seafood chef Rick Moonen, while Jessica, in addition to being a chef, is a marine biologist.
“I always tell all my chefs this,” Tony said. “I spend more time sourcing food than cooking.”
The menu at Snō includes those tuna “cigars” (tuna in fueilles de brick with avocado crème and tobiko caviar); suckling pig with twice-cooked potatoes and ong choy; carrot Bolognese over wonton noodles; and shumai with quail eggs and chili oil.
A plate of shrimp-toast tacos is a tribute to one of the Nguyens’ favorite Los Angeles food trucks, Mariscos Jalisco. In addition to the a-la-carte menu, dim sum is available from those library carts. You might be offered a caviar bump.
The main dining room, bar and small lounge area are located on the second floor of Snō’s space, which is just west of South Grand Boulevard behind the King and I. (It was previously VP Square, which closed last year.) The smaller dining room on the first floor will eventually be used for tasting-menu dinners.
Tony said some tables will be held for walk-in diners, and the bar and lounge are open seating. If you want to make a reservation, however, you should plan ahead. Tables through the end of August are already mostly booked.
Snō is open for dinner Monday and Thursday-Sunday. The phone number is 314-833-3143.