Asian-inspired flavours with innovative flair—that's what chef John Wu and his wife Eva Kong hope to bring to Kitsilano with their new restaurant.
Wu and Kong opened O-Bowl Rustic Kitchen on June 8, which seats about 50 people, at 3132 West Broadway.
Wu, who hails from Taiwan but has lived here for 15 years, also runs the high-tea spot Sugarholic Café at Richmond's Aberdeen Centre, with its menu of pasta, risotto, desserts, and drinks.
"I wanted to do something more Asian-inspired because for Sugarholic, it leans more towards Western food," he told the Georgia Straight in an interview at his new venue. "I wanted to bring my knowledge of Asian cuisines into the restaurant."
He explained that the name translates into Chinese as a happy or fulfilling meal.
Wu draws upon Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese culinary influences to create Asian-inspired dishes that incorporate familiar styles in fresh ways.
Rice bowl entrées include a wasabi beef bowl, with masago (fish roe) and cabbage ($10.95); a chili cheese chicken bowl, with mozzarella cheese ($10.95); and a vegetarian seaweed fried rice, with egg ($9.95).
Asian-style pasta plates span the range from creamy miso seafood pasta ($13.50) to sweet and sour chicken pasta ($11.95).
Wu opts for nuance and creativity when it comes to flavour.
For instance, while the base of short-rib marinade is made of soy sauce, he substitutes chili bean paste with black tea leaves to give it a unique flavour.
He also infuses his curry chicken pasta ($11.95)—which comes with potatoes, nori [seaweed], and basil—with mango to offset the spiciness of the curry.
To wash it all down, there's Kong's array of refreshing sparkling water beverages, such as strawberry mint lemon or pineapple ginger.
While Wu is still developing the menu, he does hope to integrate more Malaysian influences, as well as a taiyaki waffle bowl (with matcha powder and red bean paste) and possibly a steam bun recipe.