Asian restaurant to open on West Bank

by Peter Frost

Students caught wandering the West Bank as winter approaches will have a new place to grab some lo mein and a hot cup of tea.
The Lucky Dragon restaurant and buffet plans to open sometime within the next two weeks. The new establishment is located in the old Cantina restaurant — across Riverside Avenue from the Carlson School, between the Viking Bar and Hard Times Cafe.
The restaurant will features brand-new furniture and equipment and seat about 120.
The Lucky Dragon will also have a Vietnamese flavor, with dishes like beef with lemon sauce, hot-spicy chicken and a variety of vegetarian dishes.
“When we open, we will be the most authentic food in the area,” owner Hien Lai said.
Although the menu will have an authentic feel, it will not have seafood right away because it requires more kitchen staff to prepare.
“In the future, we will have seafood, but right now we will be focusing on our buffet,” Lai said.
The all-day buffet will have a variety of dishes to choose from, including lo mein, egg rolls and different chicken and beef courses. The buffet will be all-you-can-eat and includes ice cream and free soda refills.
Later this winter, Lai will remodel the upstairs of the building and transform it into a banquet room.
Lai brings with him more than 30 years of restaurant experience, many of these from his time in Vietnam.
He began working in the government-owned eateries when he was six years old, doing everything from clearing tables to cooking.
Years later, Lai and his family immigrated to the United States and began working in restaurants in the Twin Cities area. Five years ago in Savage, Minn., Lai started his own restaurant called the SunLai, after which the Lucky Dragon is modeled.
In an attempt to further his career, Lai purchased the old Cantina building on the West Bank earlier this summer and began remodeling it for the implementation of the Lucky Dragon.
Lai is confident that his restaurant will succeed at the location because of the area’s heavy pedestrian traffic.
“We will be successful. I really like it here. There’s a lot of people from the University community and the hospital here,” he said.
Peter Frost welcomes comments at [email protected]