Spencer Coplan began his Wok'n in Memphis restaurant as a pop-up in 2017. For the past two years, he's been serving his nontraditional take on Chinese food at Puck Food Hall.
Well, Coplan started something new: Wok'n in Pickle Co.
"It's our side hustle project from Wok'n in Memphis," Coplan says. "We open to the public Thursday, July 25th. It is an online grocery store that sells specialty provisions and products we make in-house using local ingredients."
He's making shiso (a plant that's in the basil family) vinegar. It has a "floral and earthy" flavor that is perfect for salads. And, Coplan says, "A couple of dashes go well in a cocktail."
They bought a whiskey barrel to make aged soy sauce. "It sits in the whiskey barrel for three months, and then it gets chocolatey and oak notes. And we add umami to the soy sauce. It's a great marinade for meats or [to put] a dash of it in a rice bowl or on noodles."
He's also making "kimchi pickles of all varieties" and flavored oils.
Kimchi is "a Korean fermented pickle condiment. We put it in fried rice. We stuff it in dumplings. The juice is really nice and pungent. And it goes well in my Bloody Mary mix."
The oils include garlic chili oil and coriander oil. They also make a spicy chili condiment, which is made of fried garlic and shallots, chili flakes, and sesame seeds. "That goes in all of our dumplings."
Some of these are Coplan's products that have been around for a while. "We've been making them for a long time just for us. Why not bottle and sell them?"
They're using "all Rolling Along Farms produce out of Memphis. We've got cucumbers, carrots, banana peppers, green beans, peas. And then we're making cabbage kimchi and carrot kimchi."
Coplan created all the recipes from "trial and error. Lots of error."
They began with the kimchi. "We've always done kimchi. We started selling that probably around February in 16-ounce deli cups. It kind of took off. People really enjoyed it. I thought, 'Why not bottle and sell other items?'"
The items will be available at the restaurant and online at wokn-in-memphis.square.site.
Wok'n in Pickle Co. came into being because of the pandemic, Coplan says. "A lot of the stuff came from the fact we were really slow. I didn't know what people were going to do. We had a lot of leftover product, and we didn't want it to go bad. So we started preserving it in different capacities."
Everything is made at Puck Food Hall. "We've got some new peach hot sauce coming out now. And we're thinking down the road we'd like to package and sell our dumplings in the frozen variety. So you can take them home and steam them, fry them, boil them. Any way you please."
They currently are offering about 15 products, Coplan says. "And we plan on growing from there. Add dumplings; maybe we'll jar up some sauces we make. Things like that."
Wok'n in Pickle Co. is "my idea of how to provide a few things for people Downtown who want to buy some specialty groceries."
During the quarantine, Coplan says there were "a lot of late nights of bottling hot sauce and chili oil and jarring things."
Wok'n in Memphis has been open for takeout and delivery, but now customers can eat inside Puck Food Hall. "During those times, we started focusing on other outlets of income so we could be open doing takeout and delivery or half capacity. I thought another way of making an income is this side hustle."
His restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday.
"The General Tso's Chicken is still our fan favorite," Coplan says. "It's just the tangy sauce tossed with crispy chicken served over rice. It's our bread and butter."
Wok'n in Memphis is in Puck Food Hall at 409 S. Main; (901) 949-4887, wokninmemphis.com.