A New Generation of Cuisine

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A New Generation of Cuisine

Spring rolls prepared by chef Duc Tang.

Spring rolls prepared by chef Duc Tang.

Spring rolls prepared by chef Duc Tang.

Spring rolls prepared by chef Duc Tang.

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Cuisine n. – A characteristic manner or style of preparing food

Every cuisine found throughout the world has developed over centuries, or even a millennia. Flavor combinations and recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, being tweaked along the way. The best recipes are those that don’t veer far from precedent. Cultures and cuisines have had time to meld together into different cuisine fusions over the course of many centuries.

“Everything is fusion; cultures and cuisines grow up next to each other.” says Duc Tang, chef and owner of Pacific Rim By Kana, a restaurant located in downtown Ann Arbor that serves Pan-Asian Cuisine. Tang considers himself a contemporary Pan-Asian chef. His style of cooking involves taking classic Pan-Asian dishes and reinterpreting them. In some cases, the knowledge of complimentary flavors can make the task of creating a new recipe similar to that of an equation.

California rolls, for instance, are a staple in Asian cuisine. It is well known that avocado and crab meat go well together. It is also known that avocado as guacamole goes well with chips. From this common knowledge, Tang created his own dish by blending together the ingredients of these classic dishes. His dish is a purée of avocado soup, with crab sprinkled on top, and wanton chips for textural balance. “Sometimes I’ll put [an item] on the menu without even trying it, and when the day comes, I execute it.” says Tang.

Tang explains how there is much more to owning a restaurant than just the food on the menu. “Ambiance plus food plus service, it’s about the relationship,” says Tang, “but having good food doesn’t hurt.” Staff love working at Pacific Rim because they are treated like family. There are “family meals” where one staff member is in charge of making dinner for the employees. “The great thing about Ann Arbor is the sense of community. It’s a very satisfying life.” Tang says.

Tang had originally intended to become a doctor and studied at Yale. While in the middle of writing his application to medical school in New York, Tang received a call from a friend asking him to help start a restaurant if he didn’t get accepted into medical school. After Tang’s application was declined, he took his friend up on the offer. “I sent you to Yale so you could cook!?” said Tang’s mother about the surprising transition. “Thinking about all my friends who are doctors now, I wouldn’t trade lives.” Tang says.

Tang is not concerned about the future of Pacific Rim, even though the restaurant business is not always easy. “There is always something to improve on” Tang says, “and I will keep with it as long as I feel challenged.”

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