A fast-casual restaurant called Char'd Southeast Asian Kitchen has opened in Richardson.
Five family members are involved in the business. The recipes are iterations of the food Martin Doan and his siblings learned to cook when they grew up in the U.S with immigrant parents.
"We were all involved in the cooking growing up," Doan says via email. "We all had our part to do; to get dinner ready and set in a timely manner every day. We cleaned the vegetables, prepped the ingredients, set table, and also split up who was in charge of which dish. Our mom taught us a lot of her traditional cooking methods, style and recipes. [The] main thing she taught us was teamwork and how to appreciate home cooking and family time together."
Char'd's menu fuses their mom's cooking with a broader sampling of Asian cuisine.
The menu includes Asian-inflected dishes like bibimbap (a Korean rice bowl), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and bao (a steamed bun from Northern China). The menu also includes poke, a raw fish and veggie dish that originated in Hawaii and has become popular all over the country, Dallas included.
But the big draw at Char'd is the build-your-own bowls, where customers can point to the vegetables, protein and sauces they want, similar to the famed Chipotle model with Asian flavors.
Customers can pick sauces to add to their bowls, and samples are available — a helpful perk when trying to pick from its list of 10 options including gochujang, fish sauce, peanut sauce, red curry and more.
The menu also lists five composed dishes. Unlike some build-your-own-bowl shops where the menu seems like an afterthought, Char'd's options are worth a second look. Examples include the Vietnamese grilled pork with vermicelli noodles, cucumbers, romaine, bean sprouts, pickled carrots and daikon, roasted peanuts, an egg roll, and fish sauce or peanut sauce; or the Thai red curry chicken with romaine, spinach, pineapple, baby corn, roasted peanuts and red curry sauce.
Diners who are trying to follow keto, paleo or gluten-free diets will be able to do so fairly easily here, given the you-pick-it model.
The original Char'd is in Mansfield. The second one, in Richardson, opened May 14. A third is planned for north Fort Worth in summer 2019.
Char'd is located at 1251 State St., Richardson, between Jasper's and Tricky Fish in the CityLine development.