As so many other restaurateurs did last year, Brian Candee pivoted. Moving from operating partner for the Village Social Group, responsible for the Rye location, and Pubstreet and Fatt Root in Pleasantville, he recently opened his own place, Dinh Dinh Kitchen, in Bedford Hills.
“In the past five to 10 years, I’ve really taken an interest in Asian food and culture; the catalyst was an interest in food fermentation,” Candee says. He spent 2020 educating himself and workshop-ping recipes, ultimately deciding to follow his passion for cooking. “I never would have been hired in someone else’s kitchen, so I decided to open my own.” Candee brought on kitchen staff to execute his vision, and Dinh Dinh was born.
The elemental space, with both counter seating and a smattering of tables, is sleek and monochromatic, interrupted by splashes of color thanks to work from a local artist. There is also some outdoor seating.
Candee describes the menu as “South Asian with an American backbone,” adding that he didn’t want to be tethered to one type of cuisine. The menu is as carefully curated as the decor. Candee says that already the pho is the breakout dish. There’s both a chicken and short-rib pho, a pork-wonton soup, and a vegetarian coconut curry. An assortment of appetizers, salads, sides, and three main plates are described in mouthwatering detail. All the ingredients are selected for maximum taste — the beef short ribs are served with whipped yams, peanuts, scallions, and cilantro; a side of smoky, spicy carrots features lemon zest and crispy shallots. The menu ranges from the familiar-with-a-twist (veggie fried rice to which crab or duck may be added) to such items as lotus root chips. Candee thoughtfully labels each dish, noting if it’s gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free. There’s a selection of beer, wine, and sake that pair well with the menu selections.
While there is dine-in at Dinh Dinh, Candee says the menu lends itself to takeout. “As I put together the menu, I made sure every item would travel well; we even figured out a way to extend the crispness of chicken wings.” Disposable/compostable dinnerware has replaced traditional plates and bowls. Initially dinner-only, Dinh Dinh now serves lunch, with banh mi added to the menu. “There’s a lack of this kind of food and service in Northern Westchester; I want to give the people what they want.”
Dinh Dinh Kitchen
750 N Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills