Accidental Asian Fusion

This post originally appeared in the Denton Record Chronicle.

By Adam Schrader

Staff Writer

aschrader@neighborsgo.com

Published: 10 August 2014 12:16 AM

This fall, whether it’s after a late night of studying or a night on the town, University of North Texas students and Fry Street loyalists will have some new places to grab a bite and a pack of cigarettes.

Chai Tamprateep, owner of Mr. Chopsticks, is behind a small retail strip at the corner of Hickory and Welch streets featuring restaurants and a convenience store. Sushi Cafe, relocating from Oak Street, will fill Suite 100. Seoul Wings and Beer will fill Suite 101 and Viet Bites will open a second location in Suite 102.

The strip will also include a 3,000-square-foot convenience store, which Tamprateep said will be called C-101, and there is one more storefront available for lease.

The spaces for the restaurants are 75 percent complete inside, and he hopes they’ll be completed soon so the restaurants can start moving in and prepare to open later this year.

When Tamprateep started the project, he approached several businesses. He didn’t initially intend for all three restaurants to be Asian cuisine, he said.

“I approached them and that’s how it works. And actually the convenience store owner is Asian, it’s funny,” Tamprateep said.

Even though the theme of the tenants is similar to his own restaurant on Scripture Street, he’s not interested in moving because business owners shouldn’t have to compete with their landlord, he said.

Viet Bites is setting its grand-opening date for the first day of school, Aug. 25, but was planning a soft opening sometime this week. Co-owner James Trinh said he hopes everything will be in by next weekend.

Since the shopping center is right by UNT and nearby Fry Street bars, it will give Viet Bites a new market to tap. The original Viet Bites on South Elm Street opened in 2013.

“Everyone wants to be by Fry Street because that’s the top real estate location for restaurants in Denton where it’s not so hectic like [Loop] 288,” Trinh said. “Even people who work in the bars around there know us and love us and said it would be great to have us there.”

Trinh said Tamprateep worked with them along the way and he felt comfortable with him as a landlord.

Viet Bites’ Hickory Street location will offer a new concept, so diners can get different experiences at the two locations. It will be a fast-casual atmosphere, with less variety, so busy students can get in and out the door quickly.

“Right now we have a lot of space limitations, so sourcing it out to the new location, we can be more creative at the old location,” Trinh said. “I think people will even want to visit the old location more, so I’m not afraid.”

As far as competition goes, Sushi Cafe already has its own clientele, since the business is relocating from a nearby spot on Oak Street. Sushi Cafe’s owner is also opening Seoul Wings, whose menu, Trinh said, will be different and exciting.

“We’re not scared of competition but think it will make us strive to be better,” Trinh said. “It will get us to be innovative at times to keep up.”

ADAM SCHRADER can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @Schrader_Adam.

The Story of Bahn Mi.

    Banh Mi is the brain child of hundreds of years of cultural and epicurean fusion. While to the unlearned eye it appears to be little more than a sub sandwich, Banh Mi’s modest presentation belies its symbolic stature as a cultural food merger.

    For hundreds of years, the Vietnamese were occupied in some manner or another by the French, who brought with them a taste for original and exotic cuisine, along with many food innovations of their own. Though it bears a striking resemblance to the French Baguette, Banh Mi bread is lighter, crispier and has a thinner crust, giving it a slight but satisfying crunch. Housed within the Bahn Mi shell is a slew of various delicious meat and veggie options. Most often, the meat of choice is pan-roasted or seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage or some other type of traditional Vietnamese pork product. However, over the years the Banh Mi, or Vietnamese Po-Boy as it is colloquially known, has been altered to include such meats as grilled chicken, sardines, fried eggs, fried pork meatballs, along with head cheese and tofu.

 One of our team members is preparing that oh so tasty sandwich.

One of our team members is preparing that oh so tasty sandwich.

    Of course, no sandwich would be complete would be complete without delicious vegetables and dressings and the Banh Mi has been arranged with a wide array of both. Traditionally speaking, Banh Mi is loaded with veggies native to Vietnam- cucumber slices, pickled carrots and daikon, among many others. It is dressed with anything from mayonnaise to pork liver pâté̒ and typically served warm over cold, depending on the meat selection, of course.

    So view your options, make your choices and experience your own custom made piece of cultural cuisine, complements of VietBites!

So what's that pickled carrot stuff again?

Do Chua or pickled carrots and daikon, is a mainstay of Vietnamese cuisine. They fit readily into salads, rice or even into Banh Mi sandwiches. Their crunchy texture, mild flavor and radish infused finish make them a perfect addition to nearly any Vietnamese dish.

    So Daikon?

  “Big ones, small one, some as big as your head!”

“Big ones, small one, some as big as your head!”

    Daikon (pronounced dye-kin) is a fast-growing winter radish found predominantly in southern Continental Asia, though today it is grown primarily in North America and shipped throughout the world. The daikon found popularity throughout South East Asia, particularly in Japan where its pickles are used to make Ponzu, a soy sauce and citrus juice condiment. There are many varities of daikon. The largest of which, the “Giant White Raddish”, can grow up to 20 inches in diameter and weigh as much as 100 lbs!

    Here’s a Handy recipe for making your own dynamite Do Chua, compliments of simplyrecipies.com. But be warned- It is a delicious, healthy snack, and has proven to be addictive:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/vietnamese_daikon_and_carrot_pickles/

And don’t forget to stop by the store the freshest, tastiest Do Chu, served alongside all your classic Vietnamese favorites at VietBites!