After a year of anticipation, the city’s Ninth Square Historic District welcomed a new restaurant that serves food inspired by New Orleans and French culture.
Amoy’s Cajun Creole & American Restaurant hosted its grand opening on Tuesday and served dishes ranging from Cornish hens to beignets. Owner Amoy Kong-Brown tested the kitchen twice last week during the soft opening for the restaurant, which is located between Crown and George streets on Orange Street and previously housed Nini’s Bistro, an Italian restaurant.
“Family helped make this what it is today,” Kong-Brown said. “It was a mission of love for us to make this thing happen.” For years, Kong-Brown’s friends have asked her to open a restaurant.
The dishes at Amoy’s will alternate weekly with some staple meals while Kong-Brown perfects and experiments with her recipes, she said. A cup of chicken andouille gumbo is priced at $4.79, a Jackie’s catfish taco at $15 and a shrimp po’boy at $13.77, among other meals in this week’s dinner menu. Kong-Brown is also planning to cater through and host events at Amoy’s.
Amoy’s joins Queen Zuri, a New Orleans-style restaurant at 230 Chapel St. that opened early December, as an eatery that serves bayou-inspired cuisine.
But Queen Zuri’s location may be better poised to serve Yale students. Amoy’s, which is roughly a mile round trip from Old Campus, is farther away from campus than Brantley Butcher ’19 tends to travel for food, he said. Granted, if he heard enough positive reviews about the restaurant, Butcher said he would be willing to make the trek to eat there.
Queen Zuri focuses on selling food and desserts solely from the Big Easy, while Amoy’s serves creole, Cajun and American-style food, according to Queen Zuri marketing director Christina Sutton. For the few menu items that the restaurants do share, such as po’boys, the price is nearly the same.
At Queen Zuri’s grand opening in December, Jennifer Sun GRD ’19 told the News that Queen Zuri was the only Southern culture eatery she knew in New Haven; soon, the Elm City will have at least three. Both Kong-Brown and Sutton noted that another New Orleans-inspired restaurant has been advertising its upcoming opening downtown.
Kong-Brown grew up in Bridgeport, and said she was always in the kitchen during her youth. In her mid-20s, she moved to Portland, Oregon, for roughly 15 years to expand her experiences both inside and outside the kitchen. After her stint on the west coast, Kong-Brown relocated to the New Haven area and eventually met her husband, Phil Brown, whom Kong-Brown has been with for 18 years.
Brown grew up in New Orleans, where he was inspired to become a professional musician. During trips to his hometown, Brown’s siblings taught Kong-Brown how to cook New Orleans-style dishes like shrimp etouffee — dishes that Kong-Brown brought back to Connecticut to improve and expand on.
In the past few years, Kong-Brown has worked as an administrative assistant at City Hall and in November 2014, she graduated from the city’s Passion to Profit program, which helps entrepreneurs create business plans and develop marketing skills.
Recently, after Brown finished recording his latest musical album, Kong-Brown decided to open her restaurant. Brown is taking time off from his musical career to help ensure the restaurant runs smoothly. Kong-Brown is also focusing solely on the restaurant, but hopes to return to her job at City Hall after the business normalizes.