Tuesday , August 12, 2014 - 4:24 PM
Bang Zhang, co-owner of Chopstix, graduated from the University of Utah last year with a degree in business administration.
“My parents like to keep me involved with the restaurant, which I like,” he said.
Zhang uses the degree to run the behind the scenes operations for the two locations. His parents, Wei Zhang and Amy Huang, opened their first restaurant, in Farmington, in 2005.
After the location was well-established, they turned their attention to creating the Ogden location, a beautiful restaurant with African wood accents and a giant fish tank in the dining room.
“My parents went all out,” Zhang said. “They wanted to make sure it was comfortable. My mom did the interior design. We tried to make it a dining experience. It’s a place you can really wine and dine. The food, atmosphere and service are great. We wanted to give the people of Ogden the complete package.”
His mother works the front of the house while his dad oversees quality control in the kitchen.
“He takes great pride in the food,” the younger Zhang said, of his father. “He wouldn’t serve anyone something he wouldn’t eat himself. He has a great relationship with the vendors he goes through. His standards are really high. He does a lot of the produce shopping himself.”
The chefs are from China so they are familiar with the food, but they have been in the United States for awhile.
“My dad trained them on how he likes his food to be done,” Zhang said.
Wei Zhang is also in charge of developing the specials. He likes to experiment with whatever is in season to come up with new things.
One of the most popular specials is the King Trumpet Mushrooms ($14.99), large oyster mushrooms cooked in a sauce heavy on garlic and chilies with a mix of seasonal vegetables.
“The mushrooms have an amazing texture. There has been a really great response,” Bang Zhang said.
“I’ve been really proud of the things he comes up with. I suggest keeping an eye out for the specials,” Zhang said. “They are always something really, really good.”
Popular appetizers include the shrimp egg rolls ($6.99) with seasoning, and the lettuce wraps ($7.25), made with bacon, mushrooms and water chestnuts.
Some of the most frequently ordered entrees include the Mongolian beef ($10.49), General Tao’s chicken ($10.49), and the salt and pepper calamari ($13.99).
The business recently revamped the sweet and sour pork ($11.99).
“In the past, it was cubed tenderloin,” Zhang said. “Now we slice it so it has less breading and a better texture. We’ve added fruits and vegetables. It is really, really good.”
The bird’s nest is a specialty dish that comes in different varieties. Dough is shaped like a nest, fried, and topped with macadamia nuts to hold the entrée.
“It soaks up a lot of the sauce,” Zhang said. “I encourage customers to eat the shell itself because it is really flaky and good.”
Some bird’s nest offerings include the Phoenix ($14.99), with stir-fried chicken, jumbo shrimp and vegetables, and the seafood bird’s nest ($18.99), with jumbo prawns, imitation crab meat, calamari, white fish, scallops, mussels and vegetables.
In addition to the regular menu, the business offers a wide selection of gluten-free items.
“We have the luck of working with a waitress whose mother has celiac disease,” Zhang said. “She helped us learn about it and took the time to look at all the ingredients we use. There are a lot of people who want to have that diet for health reasons and lifestyle reasons.”
Zhang’s favorite menu item, the Chopstix fried rice ($9.99) is naturally gluten-free.
“It is unconventional. It has pineapple, cilantro, sweet chicken sausage, chicken breast and shrimp.”
Chopstix food is influenced by the southern region of China, where the family is originally from.
“It’s not very spicy,” Zhang said. “We focus on the flavor and freshness of the ingredients.”
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