Culinary Vacation

Pan Asia Kitchen offers transcontinental cuisine

Lisa de Felice, Andrea Paulseth

GORGE ON GEOGRAPHICAL GOODIES. Pan-Asia Kitchen doesn’t stick to a certain niche, but rather offers a wide variety of different Asian cuisine from all over the world.
GORGE ON GEOGRAPHICAL GOODIES. Pan-Asia Kitchen doesn’t stick to a certain niche, but rather offers a wide variety of different Asian cuisine from all over the world.

If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Asia but didn’t have the time or money, let your taste buds do the traveling for you when you dine at Pan Asia Kitchen, an Asian culinary experience in Eau Claire. Located just off Birch Street next to Gordy’s County Market, Pan Asia Kitchen might just be one of Eau Claire’s best-kept secrets.

What makes Pan Asia Kitchen so great is that it brings together all of your favorite Asian foods under one roof: Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, and let’s not forget Chinese. “We try to get a little bit of everything,” said operations manager Wang Her. “It’s like a unity of different Asian cuisine all in one place.”

A desire for that unity is what prompted Her and his dad, Bee Herr, to open Pan Asia in the first place. Having owned and operated various food venues in the past, Her and Herr, who both have a passion for cooking, thought they’d try something different by opening Pan Asia. “We wanted to bring together people of Asian ethnicity,” Her said.

Popular dishes at Pan Asia include the banh mi sandwich, made with Vietnamese mayonnaise; the pad see ew, which includes tofu as a protein choice (I’m looking at you, vegetarians!); and, of course, the mouth-watering General Tso’s chicken. Many dishes offer you a choice of protein, including octopus and squid for the adventurous eaters. To quench your thirst, Pan Asia offers the standard restaurant drinks – soda, tea, coffee – as well as some not-so-standard drinks, such as mangonada and naam vaam. Mangonada is a delicious mango slushy-type drink with chunks of real mango that comes with a straw coated in a chewy tamarind candy. Naam vaam (pronounced “nah-vah”) is a sweet iced drink made with coconut milk and tapioca.

The recipes used at Pan Asia are Her’s family recipes that his parents have worked with over the years to make them their own. Her’s favorite recipe (as well as this writer’s) happens to be the General Tso’s chicken. Her’s wife, Pa Kou Xiong, is the mastermind behind the fun drinks at Pan Asia, altering original recipes to what she thinks they should taste like. Xiong also had her hand in the design of the restaurant. With bright green walls and décor, it opens up and gives life to the close quarters of the dining room.

Raissa Schnitzius, an Eau Claire resident and assistant study abroad coordinator at UW-Eau Claire, enjoys a wide variety of foods, especially Indian, Mexican, Thai, and Ethiopian, so she gave Pan Asia a chance. “Everything I tried was delicious,” said Schnitzius. “The dishes and flavors were quite authentic.” The price wasn’t anything to balk at, either. According to Schnitzius, the prices were “fair and comparable to other Asian restaurants in the Chippewa Valley.” And if you take portion-size into account, “you’re definitely getting a great deal,” Schnitzius said.

Pan Asia opened up four weeks ago, and they are going strong. Her and his father are in the midst of working with the city to take over the part of the shopping center that once housed Jumbo House, which currently stands empty, to create more seating for diners. Once that area is up and running, the family plans to introduce hot pot dining to Eau Claire. Hot pot dining involves a pot of boiling broth that is used to cook different kinds of proteins right at your table. It is an experience unlike any other, and one that Her is excited to bring to the Eau Claire area. But don’t wait until then to visit Pan Asia Kitchen. Hop on this gravy – or should I say Asian – train now and experience the taste of Asian cuisine at its finest.

Pan Asia Kitchen • 2633 Birch St., Eau Claire • Monday-Sunday, 11am-8pm • (715) 598-7058 • www.facebook.com/PanAsiaKitchen