Kevin Ni’s focus is on bringing new concepts to Minneapolis. Sushi train restaurants, while popular in other regions, weren’t a thing here. So Ni, and others, brought the concept to West Bde Maka Ska and downtown.

His newest concept for Minneapolis is crossing-the-bridge-noodles. A pho-esque dish, Ni says his version will be made the authentic way. The base of the dish is the chicken broth made from an entire chicken. The dish includes thick rice noodles, meat, and raw vegetables.

Coming soon: Crossing Bridge Noodle Restaurant is set to open at 2 E 26th St in March. Photo by Melody Hoffmann

“We don’t have it here,” Ni said, explaining that most Chinese restaurants don’t serve traditional Chinese food (a Google search of crossing-the-bridge noodles yields no options in the Twin Cities). Crossing Bridge Noodle Restaurant will also serve golden fried rice, another authentic Chinese dish, and an option for vegetarians. The new restaurant is planned to open March 15.

“Your taste buds are definitely going to be changed,” Ni said.

The Chinese restaurant is replacing Bad Waitress. The diner closed in early 2023 after being open since 2005.

Ni said he isn’t fazed by his restaurant neighbors as close competition. Within two blocks, Jasmine 26 Hot Pot Restaurant and Bar, Quang, and Pho 79 all serve similar dishes. Vietnam and the Yunnan province, where the crossing-the-bridge noodles dish originates, are geographically close as well.

“Every business owner needs to put the customer first,” Ni said. “Either you are successful or you are not. Your customer still comes first.”

Ni said the dense and centralized area of Eat Street allows for a larger customer base to come in to try his food.

“I can just walk down the street and I pick what I want,” Ni said, as a patron on Eat Street. “It’s like a food court.”

Ni explained that Eat Street used to be more populated with Asian businesses.

“We used to call that the Asian street back in the day,” Ni said. In other words, a traditional Chinese restaurant is exactly what should be moving in.

The restaurant itself is designed to accommodate large groups, which Ni thinks will lead to more conversation. Through personal experience with his son and working in restaurants, he has noticed more and more people on their phones during meals.

Crossing Bridge Noodle Restaurant will not serve alcohol. A lychee and peach-based non-alcoholic drink will be served in glass bottles to share at the table, among other other non-alcoholic options.

Kevin Ni also operates Captain Crab in Brooklyn Center and the three Mochinut locations.