FEB. 2, 2010: Sushi and more arrives in Hudson
For Henry Chan, life is full of challenges, which he meets with unbridled enthusiasm and energy. This week Chan opened his third restaurant; this one is in Hudson, the others are located in Eau Claire and Woodbury.
Shanghai Bistro opened Monday in the former Country Kitchen location. While the outside is currently Country Kitchenish, the inside is a whole new world. The softly lit interior, in muted tones of red and black, features granite table tops, ying and yang curved booths, two gently curving bars and water fall faucets in the bathrooms.
However, it is the cuisine that Chan is bringing to Hudson that may give residents a reason to stay in town, instead of heading west to satisfy a more cultured palate.
With a menu, including a full service sushi bar, Asian fusion and classic American Chinese entrees, the Shanghai Bistro is ready to give customers everything from an educational visit for first time visitors to a sushi bar to traditional American Chinese take-out.
Chan was a mechanic, who built up a very successful business in Eau Claire. While visiting Las Vegas for a trade show, he was introduced to sushi in 1999. On each subsequent trip he became more and more fascinated with the cuisine. After deciding he needed a change he put his business up for sale. It sold almost immediately. He handed the new owner the keys and took off for two weeks. He then decided to take a year off, but he couldn't get sushi out of his mind. He was in his mid-twenties at the time.
During the same period his parents, who had operated a Chinese restaurant in Eau Claire for years were getting ready to retire, Chan decided to pursue his new passion. He took over the restaurant and brought in a Master Sushi Chef to apprentice under. Working twelve-hour days, Chan learned in just over a year, what normally takes students five years to master.
"I wanted to bring some culture to Eau Claire," said Chan, who started to experiment with Asian Fusion dishes at the same time. That was in 2004. As time went on, Chan realized he needed to expand to an area that would more enthusiastically accept sushi. Hudson was his first choice but he was not able to find a location which suited his needs so he opened his second restaurant called Giapponese in Woodbury, Minn., in January of 2008. With a core staff in the Eau Claire operation, it freed Chan to focus on Woodbury.
Then as fate would have it, in the spring of 2009, Chan had to visit the DMV in Hudson, which took him by a now vacant Country Kitchen location.
"It was all an accident," said Chan, who years earlier while dining at the Green Mill in Hudson, had commented on the Country Kitchen as a perfect location. "I normally just drive through Hudson on freeway."
That vacancy sign, started the process by which Chan, his friends, family, co-workers and even customers pitched in to gut the building and create an atmosphere which he describes as more urban, more contemporary, not your typical Chinese restaurant.
"The people in Hudson have been terrific," said Chan. "The city of Hudson, everybody was great to work with. They helped me a lot. They really seemed to want me to succeed." By this summer, they plan to have a 100-seat patio ready.
"I am moving towards using only self-sustaining fish for the sushi bar," said Chan, who is committed to using the finest and the freshest ingredients including fish from Japan. "You can sit at the sushi bar and ask questions. That is the whole point, the chef can find out what you like and create something for you. Most of the time if you like seafood you will like sushi."
"The fusion and classic American Chinese menu will evolve and change as the customers weigh in," said Chan. "But with sushi, I stick to my guns. I really like working the sushi bar but for now I am needed in the kitchen during the opening weeks."
The Shanghai Bistro, located at 2420 Gateway Drive, is open seven days at week beginning at 11 a.m. with lunch available until 3 p.m.; happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dinner until closing. They will offer live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. For more information, call (715) 531-0000.