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Asia Bistro serves up 'Woodbury Roll'

Brian Tam is fifth-generation Asian restaurant owner. He opened Asia Bistro Tuesday, July 5 at City Walk in Woodbury. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

The home of the new "Woodbury Roll" opened its doors this week.

Asia Bistro, located at CityWalk, will offer much more than just Chinese and Japanese cuisine; it'll take its customers around the entire continent, owner Brian Tam said.

Bringing flavors from Beijing to Seoul, Tam said he and his family tried dishes from every possible restaurant while traveling around the United States and Canada to keep their ideas fresh and inspired.

"We don't want to contain ourselves into one name," Tam said of the reason why he named the restaurant "Asia" Bistro. "We don't want to put ourselves into one category."

The menu will include a list of house specials such as sea scallops, Korean short ribs and Asian-flavored steak.

After migrating from China to Minnesota, Tam's great uncle opened the once-popular Nankin restaurants in 1918. His grandparents followed in his footsteps and so did his parents.

"I was in it for so long that it was only a matter of time before I got into it myself," 27-year-old Tam said.

With an updated look, feel and ambience, Asia Bistro is more of a family-oriented restaurant that offers space for large groups. Different tones of brown and orange and the bamboo-lined sushi bar have warmed up the space.

Though he has learned from grandparents and parents with original recipes for Nankin chow mein and traditional dishes, Tam said he's bringing more of a modern twist to the Asian cuisine.

Some of the hot items right now include Chilean sea bass, Japanese Panko-crusted salmon and numerous sushi rolls created by an experienced sushi chef.

"He's actually gonna make sauces that are more unique than what's out there," Tam said, adding that among them is the "Woodbury Roll" he's kept secret until the opening.

Asia Bistro was formerly Shanghai Bistro, which closed in April. The new restaurant is not affiliated with the old one, however, its equipment and architectural features came in handy for Tam who did little remodeling.

"The space used to be dark, more trendy as opposed to family oriented," Tam said. "We've warmed up the space a little bit."

His mother, Linda Tam, who's been in the restaurant business for years, helped with some of the décor and the concept of the business as a whole.

"She loves building restaurants from the ground up," Tam said.

Even though it was convenient to take over Shanghai Bistro, Tam said it'll be a challenge to distinguish Asia Bistro in the months to come and establish its own identity. But with a diversified menu, a beer and wine selection and original recipes, he said, "there is a taste for everybody here."

Asia Bistro will have a grand opening later in July with a traditional a dragon dance performance to bring the community together. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.