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From my travels I have sampled many different cuisines, but being Chinese, I always end up missing rice after a few days going without, so no matter where I go, I have to have a rice dish every now and then. It was great travelling around Europe and Asia, seeing how many of the local Chinese restaurant had to adapt their flavours and techniques to suit the local market. My biggest influence was from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. In Malaysia and Thailand, vibrant colours meet strong Asian spices, and then you have the subtle flavours and delicate cooking techniques in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Adapting the flavours and ingredients available to the U.K. was always going to be a challenge, however, being a chef I love nothing more than experimenting in the Kitchen and amalgamating flavours in my head to be able to put into a dish and present it the way I saw in a lot of the Asian countries.
I first moved up to the north east, nearly 20 years ago when I was studying at Sunderland University, a very new city at the time City, and a big difference from Manchester where I am from. My father had the Lotus Garden on High street west and I worked there most nights to cover expenses. After university life, I moved away for several years.
During a visit to Sunderland I saw that the place was really lacking some diversity, the majority of the restaurant were either Italian or Indian, with the one French/Mediterranean here and there.
I loved my Student life in Sunderland and I wanted it to be an even better place, then, seeing that the site that we are on now was available for rent, and fit out. I enquired, sold my other business, then frantically scrimped/saved/begged and borrowed money to open this venture, knowing it was the right thing to do and that I was ready for it.
If you had to eat one dish from the menu for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If I had to eat one dish from the menu for the rest of my life, is like asking which one is your favourite child.
That said, I love summer time barbecues and I also love a spicy Oriental curry, put the two together, and you get our very popular char grilled chicken in a rendang sauce with potatoes, with boiled rice of course.
What are your future plans?
Plans for the future? Definitely keep developing the Asiana brand, continue to come up with more modern dishes whilst keeping the core favourites, maybe increase our bar size, and hopefully get planning permission to be able to change the layout of the balcony doors to allow people to stand outside and enjoy the amazing view we have to offer.
I would also love to convert an old style camper van and team up with another local restaurateur, serve food at events and travel around the country getting more inspiration to bring back to Sunderland.
What is it like to work at Asiana?
I love working at Asiana. I love going to work because of its great atmosphere it has and all the lovely staff I’ve met there. My time working there has flew by because of how many successful shifts there has been. Everyone working there is like one big family.
What is your favourite dish?
My favourite dish is definitely satay chicken
What has your favourite moment working at Asiana?
I’ve loved every moment working at Asiana, I learn new things every shift and every shift has been a positive outcome. I’ve met a lot of new faces and some which have became very close friends because of working there. I loved working on New Year and Chinese Year as it was something very different and a lot of customers came away from Asiana very pleased and so did I. I also love how when people ask me where I work and I reply “Asiana” they always say lovely compliments like how they had such a good night there and how lovely the food is.
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