Corrections or additions?
These advertorials were prepared for the May 4,
2005 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Haute cuisine meets Asian elegance
‘We wanted to create a restaurant that was totally different from the
traditional Chinese restaurant," says Tiffany Chu, co-owner of
Elements Asia with her husband and chef, Tom Chu, and her sister, Amy
Liu. "We want people to know that Asian food can be both delicious
and healthy. We try to bring a little bit more contemporary Asian
food to our menu."
The menu, which spans the foods of China, Japan, and Thailand,
features many contemporary dishes – Asian-Style Pumpkin Soup with
Shitake Mushrooms, Stuffed Eggplant and Shrimp, Thai Mango Shrimp,
Grand Marnier Shrimp, Taiwanese Pot Stickers with Pork and Shrimp
Filling, Grilled Rack of Lamb, Chicken and Shrimp Bahamas, Ribeye
Steak with Pineapple, and Stuffed Shitake Mushrooms with Crabmeat.
All of these dishes – called "Creations" on the menu – are the
invention of chef Tom Chu, a native of Taiwan who majored in art in
college and then came to America 25 years ago. Not long after coming
to the United States he returned to Taiwan to go to cooking school,
then came back to open highly-successful restaurants first in
Westport, Connecticut, and then in New Jersey, including Seafood
Empire, now seven years old, in North Brunswick, which has earned a 25
in the Zagat’s Guide since 2003. (After earning an MBA at Central
State University in Oklahoma, Tiffany wanted to be near New York, and
spent a summer as a hostess in Tom’s Westport restaurant. That’s how
the two met. They are married, have lived in West Windsor for 10
years, and have a 15-year-old daughter.)
"Our food is tasty, light, and healthy," says Tiffany. "We use only
fresh ingredients." The restaurant gets all its mushrooms from a farm
and its fish and meat from Chinatown in New York. What you think
looks like a lovely aquarium set into the back wall of the
restaurant is really home to striped bass, crab, and lobster, living
in the aquariums’ divided sections. The chef simply plucks your order
right out of the water. They use low-sodium soy sauce and no MSG.
In many ways, Elements Asia is the perfect marriage of elegant design
and fine food – thanks to Tom’s art school background and extensive
restaurant experience. Tom designed the interior – as well as the
menu and the elegant, creative presentation of the dishes on classic
white square Asian plates. The decor is "transitional," striking just
the right balance between traditional and contemporary with a palette
of rich, warm woods – the tables are maple, the chairs beech wood;
elegant, comforting colors on the walls, including Princeton Gold; a
long, high banquette against one wall upholstered
in warm red and gold, richly-textured fabric; a charming collection
of tiny Chinese teapots set into the open square nooks in a dividing
wall; and cool blue textured slate against the back wall of the sushi
If the true indicator of a well-designed restaurant is the bathroom,
then Elements Asia hits the mark: the sinks, imported from China, are
modular in design, and fashioned from clear tempered glass. "One
person from the table goes to the bathroom, then everyone at the
table goes," says Tiffany, adding that she has received so many
inquiries about the sinks from customers who are architects and
interior designers that she is now representing the Chinese
manufacturer here (she has already sold several).
"Customers don’t want to leave," says Tiffany of the restaurant’s
welcoming, special ambience. "They feel so comfortable here." The
music is subtle and calming, present yet not intrusive. "I call it
medication music," says Tiffany. "Many of our customers have said,
‘Thank you for opening this restaurant for us.’"
Elements Asia, 4110 Quaker Bridge Road, Lawrenceville. 609-275-4988;
New twist on Indian food: Hyderabadi specialties
Chefs who hail from various regions of India have come together at
Ganges Authentic Indian Cuisine to offer unique food, including the
"royal" Hyderabadi specialties.
"Hyderabad is a southern region of India," says owner and executive
chef Sri Chandupatla, who comes from that area. "It’s a unique way of
cooking using spices and sauces from Hyderabad."
Those who enjoy "traditional" Indian cuisine tend to be familiar with
dishes such as Masala and Paneer. Hyderabadi puts another twist on
Indian food with the use of tamarind, sesame, and other exotic spices.
Chandupatla decided to open Ganges based on her passion for cooking.
Armed with her mother’s authentic recipes and a talent for cooking,
Chandupatla created Ganges one year ago. She is at the restaurant "90
percent of the time," and supervises every aspect of the business,
from the chefs to the decor.
Ganges enjoys a strong customer base. These "regulars" know that
Ganges’ chefs will prepare orders to suit their tastes, even if that
means preparing a signature dish with mild spices. "Everything is very
fresh, and made to order each day," said Chandupatla. Besides the
extensive menu, Ganges also offers weekend specials.
Among Ganges’ more popular dishes are Mirchi Bhajji, peppers stuffed
with tamarind sauce and spices; Bhagara Baigan, oven baked eggplant
cooked in a special sauce of tamarind and sesame seeds; and, of
course, Chicken Hyderabadi, marinated chicken in a spicy curry sauce.
Ganges provides diners with vegetarian choices, as well.
While Ganges is fine dining – rated "Good" by the prestigious New York
Times – Chandupatla emphasizes that the restaurant is family-friendly.
That will come in handy on Mother’s Day, when Ganges is featuring a
Grand Buffet. On Sunday, May 8, Ganges Grand Buffet for Mother’s Day
will be available for only $15.95 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
But Mother’s Day isn’t the only time the buffet lover can enjoy
Ganges. Each Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., a wide range
of Indian specialties is available on the lunch buffet. At only $8.95
during the week, and $11.95 on weekends, the bunch buffet is a great
way to sample new and exciting Indian cuisine.
Thursdays from 5:30 to 10 p.m., customers can enjoy the Southern
Indian and Hyderabadi Dinner Buffet for only $13.95. And those who
like a bit more ambiance can enjoy light classical music one night per
month (usually the second Friday).
Ganges’ specialties are available as catering items, as well. "We can
handle parties from 50 to 400 people," notes Chandupatla. "We’ve done
many parties and events in our first year, and expect to do more as
the popularity of this cuisine grows."
Ganges Authentic Indian Cuisine is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday
from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.;
for dinner Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., and
Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m.; and is closed on Monday.
Ganges Authentic Indian Cuisine, 33 Princeton-Hightstown Road,
Princeton Junction, 609-750-1550. Fax: 609-750-1540.
The owners of this cozy Nassau Street eatery are plan special events
One of the bets we had made in the dining issue of U.S. 1 last fall
about Mehek, the then newly opened Indian restaurant, was that "no
matter how many times one visits this restaurant, it is never the
same, discovery just gets better." Well, we continue to maintain that
as Méhék comes of age and surges ahead to bring Indian food "just as
to be had only in India" to Princeton.
As the restaurant taps into its seventh month, patrons from Princeton,
Montgomery, West Windsor, Lawrenceville, and South Brunswick, as well
as other neighboring towns are consistently being delighted. Méhék has
come to be well known for its creative yet fresh and healthy offerings
and it is attracting connoisseurs from as far as Westchester, NY, who
visit on regular basis hoping that Méhék might, one day, open
operations in their own beautiful town.
Diners have adopted frequent caterings in their homes, offices, and
university departments on top of their routine dining experiences at
Méhék. "Méhék Catering is a delight, (anyone) interested in the most
healthful food experience must try their dining and catering" was
quoted by one of the regulars at Méhék. The most enchanting thing is
that they can bring Tandoor, the clay oven, to your premises to
prepare fresh breads and kabaabs in front of your eyes to delight your
One of the owners, Sunita Midha, has just returned from a trip to some
of the best health resorts in India and the east. She had gone there
on an intense culinary training tour and got involved in the
Maharaja-styled labyrinth kitchens at a few of the 5-star resorts.
Sunita explains that she got trained under the head chef at Ananda Spa
Resort in the Himalayas, where the most healthful Indian food is
served to customers. She can’t wait to introduce guests to some of
that magical mouth watering treat. Ananda, www.anandaspa.com, was
named the best Spa resort in the world by Condé Nast magazine in 2003.
Méhék has recently been adding numerous vegetarian and non-vegetarian
kabaabs and tapas-like items to its repertoire of fresh, aromatic, and
sumptuous dishes that have never been enjoyed before at any of the
myriads of Indian restaurants in North America. Kabaab-Mahan (Great
Kabaab) was the talk of the guests during one of recently organized
nights. Delighted and encouraged by the success of these innovative
items, the owners are about to start Wednesday Kabaab night, when many
vegetarian and non-vegetarian specials will be made available on large
round griddle-like servers in all-you-can eat offerings.
Backed by the popular demand, Méhék recently switched its platter
driven lunch style to a lunch buffet with weekend grand buffet being
another notch higher. "We look forward to adding to the delight of
even more diners," Seema Chopra, the co-owner predicts. The owners are
also proud of the fact that they have already secured the trust of
more than 500 regulars who have chosen to make the takeout section
Their recent sponsorship of Ravi Shankar’s concert and Balinese night
at Princeton’s McCarter Theater introduced hundreds of theatergoers to
Méhék’s mouth watering finger food and Biryanis. Méhék has also
continued with its tradition of holding events on noble topics like
Yoga, Meditation, Rebirthing, and fascinating live Sitar music, and
the owners are intent on bringing more events to their cozy but
bustling quirky family oriented eatery.
Méhék Fine Indian Dining, 164 Nassau Street, Princeton. 609-279-9191.
Moms keep coming back for Mother’s Day Buffet
For the past decade, local families have been treating moms and
grandmoms to the Deluxe Mother’s Day Buffet at Sunny Garden.
"We see the same customers, year after year, at our Deluxe Mother’s
Day Buffet," said Yu-Lien Yen, owner of Sunny Garden. "It’s so
popular, that reservations are strongly encouraged, as we sell out
Yen calls the feast "no ordinary buffet. We do it once a year, and do
it right." A wide variety of Chinese cuisine is available, including
Seafood & Asparagus Soup and South Asian Pumpkin Soup; dozens of
salads, dim-sum, cold and hot appetizers; traditional and creative
sushi such as Dragon Roll, Crispy White Tuna Roll, and Roasted Pepper
Roll; and fine Western desserts like Italian Gelato, homemade rainbow
Jell-O, lemon cookie, almond tulles, and crepe.
Sunny Garden has been serving creative Chinese cuisine, Thai
specialties and superb sushi for 17 years. The restaurant relocated to
a "quiet haven just off Route 1 in Princeton" 11 years ago, and takes
pride in the "delightful" views of the garden afforded to every diner.
According to Yen, "We bring you the finest and freshest ingredients
and expertly prepare them to your taste," Rated "Very Good" by the New
York Times, Sunny Garden is a constant on the Zagat ratings.
"Sunny Garden offers a variety of sushi, cooked or raw. Our sushi has
been rated as the best in the area," Yen said "We like to take fresh
ingredients, prepare them skillfully and develop new items for our
customers. Our sushi chefs not only make good traditional sushi like
Dragon Roll, but also create delicious and beautiful sushi such as
Torch Seared Toro Steak with Sweet Wasabi, Seared Salmon Rolled with
Mango in Citron Soy, Eggplant Roll and Tuna Sashimi in Garlic Soy."
Sunny Garden patrons also will find a heavy dose of creativity on the
regular Chinese menu. Each month, chefs create signature specials to
delight guests. Yen noted that recent monthly specials have included
Eggplant Dumplings, Eggplant Stuffed with Shrimp, Grand Marnier
Shrimp, Oolong Tea Smoked Duck, and Cumin Lamb.
While Sunny Garden is considered fine dining, the restaurant is known
for its pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff. "The attentive service
in elegant dining rooms provides the quiet ambiance our guests truly
enjoy," Yen states. "But we are also family-friendly, and very
Catering is another Sunny Garden specialty. "We can handle offsite
parties, or entertain in our private room, which holds up to 60 people
comfortably," Yen explains. His staff works with each client –
corporations, families, individuals – to develop a customized menu.
Sunny Garden is a handicapped accessible, non-smoking facility. Guests
are invited to BYOB (wine or beer). Those who can’t wait can check it
out at www.sunnygarden.net.
Sunny Garden, 15 Farber Road, Princeton, 609-520-1881. Fax,
Blue Point Grill, 258 Nassau Street, Princeton. Seafood restaurant
with 20 to 25 fresh specials daily.
Holiday Inn Princeton, 100 Independence Way, Princeton. Full service
hotel withCafe Nicole restaurant.
Ichiban, 66 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. Japanese cuisine and sushi,
catering and party trays, open 7 days.
Independence Cafe & Catering, 3 Independence Way, Princeton. Corporate
catering and food service management.
Java Moon Cafe, 4110 Quakerbridge Road, Quakerbridge Village Commons,
Lawrenceville. Open seven days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Kalluri Corner, 235A Nassau Street, Princeton. Fine Indian dining,
lunch and dinner buffets.
Lahiere’s, 5 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. Contemporary American and
European cuisine in an intimate atmosphere.
Main Street Bistro & Bar, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton
Shopping Center. Custom-catered luncheons, dinners, and receptions,
with inhouse dining room and bar area.
609-921-2779 or 609-921-2777.
Palace of Asia, 540 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrence Square Boulevard
South, Lawrenceville. Fine Indian cuisine.
Sahara Restaurant, 1325 Route 206, Montgomery Center, Skillman. Middle
Shogun 27, 3376 Route 27, Kendall Park. Sushi bar and Hibachi room.
Sunflower House, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton Shopping Center.
Vegetarian restaurant with Taiwanese cuisine, open Monday to Saturday.
Teriyaki Boy, 3535 Route 1, MarketFair, Princeton. Japanese food
including sushi, open daily for lunch and dinner.
Teriyaki Boy, 15 Market Hall, Princeton Forrestal Village. Japanese
food including sushi, open daily for lunch and dinner.
Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village, 201 Village Boulevard,
Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540. Hotel with 294 rooms,
indoor pool, ballroom for up to 1,600 guests, and gourmet
Whitlock Tavern, 375 Georges Road, Dayton. Serving lunch from 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m.; dinner 5 to 9 p.m.; late night menu; also space for private
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