Dexin Tan cooks Asian fusion cuisine in the Little Wok


Steps to the North Shore Channel Trail To the southwest of Evanston is Little Wok, an East Asian fusion restaurant.

The chain, which has another location in the Chicago area, serves as a one-stop shop for authentic Asian cuisine. The restaurant offers a large menu with a variety of cultural offerings and specializes in Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The Japanese menu also includes a wide variety of sushi.

Little Wok founder Dexin Tan said he wanted to preserve the authenticity of traditional Asian dishes while introducing new foods to customers in his restaurant. The menu offers hundreds of items. But Tan says he keeps re-evaluating what dishes he serves based on customer feedback, and he works with a variety of professional chefs to ensure quality and authenticity.

While Little Wok already has two locations – one in Lakeview and one in Evanston – a third location is coming soon in Wicker Park. The Daily sat down with Tan to discuss the chain’s growing success.

This interview has been edited for the sake of clarity and brevity.

The Daily: What made you decide to get into the restaurant business?

Dexin tan: I worked for a restaurant when I was little, maybe 14-15 years old when I started. It was a Chinese restaurant in the suburbs. I even worked there during my school days. Working in a restaurant was like my part-time job until I opened my own restaurant. I’ve been in the business for many years, now over 20 years.

The Daily: How did you start Little Wok?

Tan: My father was a restaurant chef and he had a lot to teach me. He taught me all about different sauces that I can use in cooking and I took inspiration from these to create my own sauces as well. My father had a good restaurant for a long time and that helped me a lot.

The Daily: Why did you choose Evanston for your restaurant?

Tan: Evanston is a very nice area. It’s a city of the suburbs, and this place is surrounded by supermarkets that attract good business. This location receives both local and non-local support. Customers can order takeaway from Skokie and Evanston. We’re also getting some business from the Northwestern campus.

The Daily: When a customer visits your restaurant for the first time, what would you recommend them to order?

Tan: I would recommend ordering General Tso’s Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Mongolian Beef, or Kung Pao Chicken as these are the very popular dishes. Our Pad Thai is also one of our top sellers. I recommend our special rolls on our sushi menu, and we also offer a bento box for sushi at lunchtime.

The Daily: What do you like best as a restaurant owner?

Tan: I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant. I wanted to be successful. When the old Chinese restaurant in this place closed and I took it over, nobody knew about this restaurant. That was 13 years ago. After two years we got more customers and now people know this place. The growth is worth it.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @ joannah_11

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