Asian Box in San Francisco combines an Asian style of cooking with amazing fresh ingredients. At its helm is Grace Nguyen, the California Chef with a Vietnamese heritage that influences every one of her dishes. Nguyen let us in on box favorites, and just what’s so special about this new concept…
What’s different about your food?
The best thing about the food at Asian Box is that it is the same quality of food that you get in a nice restaurant but only a third of the price! We make everything in-house and source all of our ingredients very carefully. We are also one hundred percent gluten free! I think it also stands out because my food is a mixture of traditional food that I grew up cooking with my family and the high standards that I learned from working in Postrio and the Slanted Door.
Are you constantly making changes? How so?
I try to make sure that the food and experience we are putting out every day is top notch. We are working on some seasonal specials and limited time offers, but no major changes. We do a really fun rib night on Monday nights at both the Palo Alto and Mountain View stores – super crave-able pork spareribs with a black pepper caramel sauce. My Grandmother taught me how to make the ribs and I still make them at home every couple of weeks for my littler brother and my husband. They are totally comfort food for us!
What’s special about Asian Box?
Asian Box is special because you get to build your own Box and all of the items are designed to eat together. You get to pick and choose your way through the menu and can have so many different delicious combinations. We also do our own housemade condiments and sauces that will set your mouth on fire mixed with fresh, local ingredients.
What experience do you want your customers to walk away with?
We want each guest to be able to walk away after coming to the Box having just eaten amazingly fresh and vibrant food in a cool setting – quickly – for a very affordable price. We bring our many years of hospitality into play here so that people get that great neighborhood service in a really casual atmosphere.
Can you share some menu favorites from Asian box?
My favorite Box of the moment is the Six-spice Chicken over Jasmine Rice finished with Coconut Curry Sauce and, of course, all of the Box Toppers (bean sprouts, crispy shallots, chopped peanuts, fresh herbs, fresh jalapeno, freshly squeezed lime juice, pickled vegetables, scallion oil and a caramel egg). But it changes all of the time; I always have a Lemon Lime Marmalade to drink with it. We all have our favorites here – our CEO Frank Klein loves the Tofu with Coconut Curry Sauce over Brown Rice and finished with all of the Box toppers and our Miss Jones Sriracha sauce.
If you’re going to eat in Palo Alto besides at your own restaurant, where do you go?
We love a couple spots. Osteria for classic Italian food – especially the Veal Picatta and pastas. Oren’s Hummus Shop for really fresh vibrant Israeli food and house-made pickles, harissas and pita breads. And our friends over at Mayfield Café; their pastries at the bakery and comfort dishes at the café are great. They have a great burger, fun theme nights and some of the best meatballs and spaghetti that I have ever had.