Woodbury resident Brian Tam’s family has been in the restaurant business a long time.
His great-great uncle opened one of the state’s first Asian restaurants in Minnesota, Nanking, in 1918, and his grandfather is an Asian foods distributor.
Now, after working in family restaurants for some time, he’s striking out on his own with Asia Bistro, a new Woodbury restaurant set to open on Independence Day.
The family has been integral in getting Asia Bistro—located at City Walk along Woodbury Drive—on its feet. Tam called his mother “the brains behind the concept.”
That concept will include a sushi bar and food from several Far East nations, said Tam, a 27-year-old who grew up in the Woodbury area and attended Stillwater Area High School.
Two restaurants have previously occupied the space, and Tam said making sure Asia Bistro is successful starts with an improved décor. In recent weeks crews have given the space a brighter and more family-friendly look, he said.
As a resident of Woodbury, Tam said it’s important to get families through the door.
“Without them, we can’t survive,” he said. “So that’s a big thing—to focus on the family atmosphere. That’s key.”
Plans call for a soft opening on July 4, with a larger grand opening event later next month. The hours of operation are also being worked out.
Tam said people will be pleasantly surprised by the sushi choices at Asia Bistro, which include a roll that features mango and a “Woodbury Roll.” The restaurant will offer beer, wine and sake, he said, and a wide selection of Asian foods. “Not just sesame chicken, though we will have that here.”
He hopes the sushi bar is a good spot for people to enjoy themselves and watch the chef work.
“With sushi, it’s not just eating—it’s a show in itself,” Tam said.
While he does have family to lean on as he prepares for next week’s opening, the process has been “exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.” The opening date has been pushed back as work took longer than expected, but that’s part of the experience, he said.
Overall, he’s pleased with how things turned out.
“It’s gone smoothly for the most part. The construction took a little longer than anticipated. But the menu, the flavors, the people—it’s all come together,” he said.