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Rob Bechtold of NOLA Smokehouse to open Bayou Bao pop-up at Bevi Seafood Co. in Mid-City 

  Pit master Rob Bechtold recently shuttered his Irish Channel barbecue operation NOLA Smokehouse. Soon he'll open an Asian-inspired pop-up, Bayou Bao, at Bevi Seafood Co. (236 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-488-7503; www.beviseafoodco.com). It will focus on the steamed buns popular in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. A start date has not been set for the pop-up.

  Bechtold and his wife Emily closed NOLA Smokehouse Oct. 3 due to an illness in the family, but not before closing days saw as many as 200 people line up for the eatery's slow-smoked meats and fatty, burnt ends.

  "It was a great way to go out ... and we do appreciate all the well wishes we got," Bechtold says. "We still have bills to pay in the family, and we still want to get out there and supply a good product for our loyal customers. This is something new and totally different, a big step away from our barbecue past."

  Bechtold said the inspiration for the bun theme comes from his love for Asian food and Vietnamese cuisine in particular.

  "I thought these little steamed buns would be great when filled with some chef-inspired ingredients," he says. "They're a great vehicle for great ingredients and I thought it would be fun to do it a different way."

  Bechtold says the menu likely will include Bayou Bao, a combination of blackened Gulf fish, Steen's slaw and preserved lemon tartar sauce, and pork belly bao with sweet soy sauce, homemade kimchi and pickled vegetables. Bechtold says he is experimenting with a fried boudin-stuffed version. The buns will be about $6 for two.

  Bechtold and Bevi Seafood Co. owner Justin LeBlanc are old friends who worked together at the long-shuttered Chateaubriand, across the street from the seafood restuarant's location.

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