We know that Michael Schepers, owner of Mick’s Karma Bar in Irvine (and lately Haché LA in Silver Lake) knows burgers. Long lines snaking through the groovy sculpture in the office plaza outside the door of Karma Bar testify to the popularity of his freshly-ground burgers and natural, house-made soft drinks. But the Austrian-Dutch Schepers has a restless restaurateur’s mind.
So, if the line is daunting—or you forgot to use convenient online ordering—take a look next door. It may still say Kitima on the building, the name of a Thai restaurant Schepers used to run, but it’s now Fideo by Mick. Schepers characterizes Fideo as a pop-up—meaning he’ll see where it goes. But what exactly is it? He says his Twitter bio is as accurate a description as anything: “An eccentric & eclectic (noodle) dining concept by Mick.”
A brief menu of noodle and rice dishes (each, $8) from cultures spanning the globe is accompanied by more of those proprietary soft drinks, including new passion fruit iced tea that includes the fruit’s seeds and their gentle tartness. At a preview tasting I tried Burmese-style curry with tender chunks of 12-hour-simmered pork belly. The sauce was deeply flavored, complex and intense, thickly napping the pork chunks with notes of lemongrass and a hint of cinnamon. After the meat is cooked, Schepers refrigerates it, then removes the rendered fat, which even pork belly fans admit can be swoon-inducing in excess. The bracing, dark sauce is something of a revelation with the richly striated pork, and perfect with the accompanying rice. Long-simmered chicken curry is served in bowls with fresh, flat ramen noodles. It’s unlike any chicken curry you’ve had before, I can almost guarantee. It also may be the best you’ve ever had.
Food that’s not what you’ve had before—yet is recognizable and with identifiable influences—is Mick’s stock in trade. He says it’s not specifically about chicken curry or Burmese-style pork belly, or fresh-ground burgers, for that matter—the food at any of his restaurants just doesn’t exist elsewhere. If you want it, you have to come to Mick. For Fideo, I predict pop-up status converts to permanent restaurant very soon.