Sous Vide Kitchen in New York City offers barbeque, grain bowls, Mediterranean menu items, Latin cuisine, and an array of banh mi sandwiches. But diners at this so-called “virtual food hall” won’t go to individual stalls for their meals. Instead, all orders are made from a row of kiosks, and all dishes are prepared in the same kitchen using the same cooking method.
The food hall, which opens to the public on Thursday, combines various industry trends in one space: food halls, sous vide cooking, kiosk ordering and cashless payments.
Sous Vide Kitchen and all of the fast-casual concepts — Pulled & Chopped BBQ; Mediterranean Pure Foods; Eso Latin; SVK Greens, Grains & Bowls; and BONMi Vietnamese Sandwiches & Bowls — have been created by food-and-beverage consulting firm JBH Advisory Group through operating company Bahn Mi LLC. JBH Advisory Group is the major stakeholder in Sous Vide Kitchen.
BONMi was the only concept with a brick-and-mortar location before the food hall opening. In fact, the 2,600-square-foot location was a BONMi before the company developed it into a food hall. There is currently a BONMi restaurant in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood.
As Alexis Kukuka, director of operations at JBH, explained, “we choose the space because we wanted to experiment with other concepts.” Before opening the food hall, the company tested out offering some menu items from the new concepts to customers in-store and for delivery.
The food hall focuses on cooking with the sous-vide method because it gives the dishes more consistency and flavor compared with other methods, Kukuka said. It’s also easier to train employees on the process, and the cooking method can be introduced to almost any size kitchen.
Sous Vide Kitchen also solves what Kukuka sees as a flaw in the traditional food-hall model — groups of diners need to stand in different lines to order, and meals from different stalls are often ready to eat at different times. Here, diners can order from all concepts at the same kiosk and pay on the same check.
“We wanted to streamline that process,” she said.
Kukuka hopes Sous Vide Kitchen meets diners’ demand beyond what they’re looking for in a food hall. The company offers offsite catering and delivery, as well as grab-and-go options that can be purchased by scanning items at the kiosks. A coffee bar and breakfast offerings are in the works.
“We are constantly looking at what guests are looking for,” Kukuka said. “The key to staying successful in this industry is you have to keep up with the changing tastes and trends of diners.”