Editor's note: This week we feature an interview and restaurant review of a new dining spot in Yorkville. Chowdown Showdown will return next Monday.
Yorkville’s population has increased 173 percent since 2000, which may mean the city’s ready for new things.
, which opened in January, is just one of those new things that would not likely have been around in a smaller town.
Pan Asian typically refers to Asian countries along the pacific coast, especially when describing their food. Noly Vayding, who manages the family-owned restaurant, said that Yorkville seemed an ideal spot to open a new restaurant, especially one that specializes in ethnic cuisine rarely found nearby.
“This is an awesome spot,” said Vayding. “There’s no Pan Asian restaurant here. There’s a lot of fast-food, but it’s nice to have a family dining atmosphere.”
Vayding’s family has a long history of owning restaurants. Her father is Vietnamese and Chinese, and is a skilled cook at both ethnic foods. Her mother, who is Laotian, specializes in Thai dishes from her time spent living in Thailand. Vayding’s parents, along with her five brothers and her, currently own five restaurants in Madison, WI. Her younger brother Kevin and his wife have lived in Yorkville for three years.
Following a tradition of ethnically Asian restaurants, Chopstix specializes in Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. With a focus on homemade dishes and a healthy-eating style, they make everything to order and steam all of their vegetables.
As I visited the restaurant (before interviewing the owner) I found the dining room décor tastefully sparse, while popular Chinese music played softly overhead, providing an atmosphere ideal for either romantic dinners or casual family outings. The variety of meals was vast, including everything from $6 lunch specials to nearly $20 seafood dishes.
Dining with my Chinese girlfriend, we were pleased with the Mu Shu Pork we ordered, although it was juicier and had a richer flavor than an authentic Chinese version. The Drunken Noodles, while not nearly as spicy as warned, were loaded with fresh, soft vegetables and can be made hotter if desired (their spiciest is not recommended for inexperienced guests). As an appetizer, the large Chopstix House Eggrolls were a delicious variation from typically pork and cabbage eggrolls and certainly worth the $2.99. Also, I recommend the Thai Coffee to anyone who desires a cold, latte-like beverage.
Vayding hopes that Chopstix can establish itself in Yorkville as a family, sit-down restaurant, despite most of their business currently being for carry-out customers. She says that Chopstix is currently waiting for liquor permits, which have already been approved, in order to serve a variety of Asian alcohols and beers. They also plan on adding a sushi bar this summer.