A couple from Laos recently opened a restaurant and bar that serves Asian comfort food on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
Sia Xiong and Johnni Sihavong named their new business AN OX Café after their birth year: the Chinese zodiac year of the ox.
The restaurant specializes in Lao and Thai cuisines, and features starters, salads, soups, curries, noodles, entrees and a hot fudge s’mores cake for dessert, according to its menu.
Sihavong said one of the most popular salads so far has been the Larb ($15.99), a “meat salad” that has thin-sliced beef, rice flour, fresh lime juice, red onion and fresh mint. For soups, he recommended the pho ($15.99), which is made with rice noodles, beef soup, beef, meatballs and tendons.
A popular entrée has been the volcano chicken ($16.99), he said, which features lightly breaded chicken breast served on a bed of sautéed cabbages and carrots and topped with the restaurant’s special volcano sauce.
He also suggested the pad kee mao, AKA drunken noodles (which starts at $14.99). It features stir-fried wide rice noodles, eggs, bell peppers, sliced onions, garlic chili sauce and either chicken, beef, pork or veggies. Shrimp costs an extra $3.
The restaurant, located at 7411 W. Hampton Ave., has two dining areas, each with a bar that serves specialty drinks, beer and wine. The back dining area and bar can be reserved for events, such as birthday parties and meetings.
Sihavong described the space as rustic, industrial and clean. A patio area lit with LED string lights will open for dining when temperatures warm up.
Xiong and Sihavong — who came to the United States with their families in 1979 — have been working on their restaurant since 2018. The city helped support the project with grants, according to Sihavong.
The restaurant was ready to roll, then COVID-19 hit, he said, so they decided to hold off on its debut.
After hosting some soft opening events to see what needed to be tweaked, the establishment held its grand opening Feb. 2. At it, Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson revealed his economic development proposal for the city.
“We’re excited that we could open, and then officially open Wednesday,” Sihavong said. “And also kind of relieved we hit the finish line.”
The restaurant offers both dine in and takeout. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
For more information on AN OX Café, visit facebook.com/anoxcafe.