For decades, a standalone Asian restaurant anchored a busy corner in Hampden Township, feeding a couple of generations with familiar Chinese staples.
Last year, Chef Wong hung up his apron, but, recently, a worthy successor has reopened the doors to the Trindle Road eatery. In October, Nyunt and Than Win debuted Tri Asian Taste, hoping for their own long run with a unique repertoire of authentic Burmese, Thai and Japanese cuisine.
Nyunt hails from Burma, leaving in 1995 due to political unrest, joined in the United States seven years later by his wife, Than. They owned and operated a grocery in New York before moving to this area with their two children five years ago. The couple used their sushi-making talents for local Giant Food stores before opening Tri Asian Taste.
“I wanted to be my own boss, and this is close to my home, so I liked the location,” said Nyunt about the decision to choose the old Chef Wong’s building.
Before opening, they spruced up the interior with new flooring, sunny yellow paint and dozens of brightly colored umbrellas that hang upside down from the ceiling. A scene, which spans the back wall, depicts the annual Burmese Water Festival.
“That’s a celebration of our New Year,” said Nyunt, remarking that he wanted his 70-seat eatery to reflect his native country.
A long-time Chef Wong’s patron, Eric Cohen of Mechanicsburg, said that he liked the new, updated look.
“They modernized it, making it brighter and more open,” he said. “It’s colorful, warm and inviting.”
Than does most of the cooking, attributing her skills in the kitchen to the tutelage of a friend.
“She owned a restaurant in upstate New York and taught me how to cook,” she said.
The education, though, never stops, as she continues to learn from a chef in Thailand.
“He teaches us, and, this way, the food is more authentic,” she said. “Sometimes, we use our creativity to create a fusion.”
The extensive menu features the cuisine of several different Asian cultures, spanning the gamut from sushi to curry dishes to soups, salads and desserts.
In comparing Thai, Burmese and Japanese cuisines, Than finds Thai food to be the easiest to cook, as well as the most popular.
“Thai food uses ingredients like coconut milk and is sweet, sour and spicy,” she said. “We sell a lot of it.”
While the Japanese creations like sushi, nigiri and sashimi are quick to make and rather straightforward, Burmese dishes are a little more labor intensive, Than said.
“Burmese food is very close to Indian food and is a little more difficult to make compared to the others,” she said. “The dishes have to simmer longer, and they take more time.”
One dish reminds the couple of Burma every time they serve it. Called the “T.A.T. (Tri Asian Taste) Morning,” the creation is comprised of fried paratha, cooked white vatana peas, fried onion and peanut oil.
“The Burmese eat this for breakfast,” Nyunt said.
Cohen attested to the authenticity of the dishes, having worked around the world. He remarked on a recent visit when he, his son and daughter-in-law ordered a range of dishes from the menu.
“We thought the rolls were good, the beef dish was amazing and the soup, at $5, was huge.” he said, adding that he’ll return for the authenticity, the fair prices, the pleasant service and the welcoming atmosphere.
Nyunt, who works the front of the house, said what he likes most about the experience is meeting new people. Than agreed that she, too, enjoys meeting her customers, especially when their eyes light up as they bite into one of her creations.
“That makes me very happy,’ she said, breaking out into a wide smile.
Tri Asian Taste is located at 5001 E. Trindle Rd., Mechanicsburg. For more information, call 717-972-1247 or visit www.triasiantaste.com.