Ma'ono chef/owner Mark Fuller and Rhino Room partner/restaurant builder Patric Gabre-Kidan have a habit of texting random business ideas back and forth. One recent Sunday Fuller messaged his friend—"want to buy a Chinese restaurant?"
He was talking about the former home of Chopstix, a recently vacated spot at 5905 California Ave SW, near Juneau. Yelp suggests the food was pretty forgettable of late, but Fuller and Gabre-Kidan saw potential in the fake stone facade and vaguely pagoda-esque roofline, and a chance to recapture some of the neighborhood's history. This random idea had legs.
The guys, who first met working together back at Dahlia Lounge, are opening a bar here called New Luck Toy. Though they describe this place as a cozy dive, Gabre-Kidan promises a solid lineup of cocktails, something West Seattle surely needs more of.
The food will be Fuller's spin on the staples of Americanized Chinese food—salt and pepper squid, ma po tofu, chow mein, jerked fried rice with chicken cracklings. Fuller is a man who knows how to fry a chicken; I can't wait to try his rendition of General Tso's. Speaking of whole birds, Fuller's also planning a crispy duck, served whole or in half with plum sauce and pinch buns. For dessert, honey walnut soft serve with five-spice puffed rice.
The bar's name might be familiar to longtime West Seattle residents. It pays tribute to the Chinese restaurant of the same name that operated nearly a mile north in the Junction for roughly 60 years; the guys even secured the blessing of Dan Louie, whose father Alan founded the original New Luck Toy. (Fun facts: Alan Louie also ran the ID's legendary China Gate; his son Dan grew up in the restaurant industry and became accomplished professional pool player.)
Fuller and Gabre-Kidan plan to spend the coming months cleaning up the space—exposing the circular windows currently hiding behind wooden slats, building plenty of booths, including a big round one in the front with a lazy susan—and could open as soon as June. A back patio will follow later this summer.