Unlike any other cuisine, Asian food has the uncanny ability to blend different cooking styles as it takes diners on a trip across the globe. Chefs and representatives for two of the winners of Best of Texoma’s Best Asian category spoke about what it takes to adapt foreign cuisine to American tastes.
The other winner in the category, Gourmet China, could not be reached for comment for this article.
Pun Webster, owner of Sherman-based Teriyaki Jar, said many Asian dishes are brought over by immigrants and adapted using local ingredients. As an example, teriyaki — a variety of Japanese dishes cooked in its namesake tare sauce — first became popular in the U.S. when it was brought to Seattle by Japanese immigrants, she said.
“This food comes from Japan, but it has some American influences in flavor,” she said.
Among some of the adaptations to the dish was the use of white wine instead of Japanese sake wine in the sauce, which is traditionally made by mixing wine, soy sauce and sugar. The dish also was adapted to local tastes when chefs started using red meat and poultry instead of traditional fish.
When asked why teriyaki appeals to local diners, Webster said she feels that customers enjoy the flavor that comes with grilling the meat.
Other items on the menu took more time to catch on. Webster said she wanted to bring something from her homeland of Korea when she added bulgogi, a form of Korean barbecue, to the menu. It took about three years for customers to warm up to it, she said.
King Buffet, also located in Sherman, offers diners the opportunity to taste foods from across East Asia, including Japanese sushi, Mongolian grilled dishes, and cuisine from China. Co-manager Fiona Ye, said the restaurant tries out new dishes on the buffet to see what dishes work best for the American palate.
When asked what dishes work the best, Ye said customers enjoy “spicy and sweet” dishes, including the Mongolian grill.
“We kinda blend the cuisines together so people have a wide variety to choose from,” she said.