Last week we reviewed Ollie’s 99 on Railroad Ave where owner Bill Xia has overseen the delightful fusion of Neapolitan-style pizza and Chinese cuisine.
This week Mr. Xia took us inside his other restaurant, Steam, located at 374 Greenwich Ave, having purchased the business in August and making significant changes, both to the menu and restaurant layout.
Gone is the front counter. Instead there is a small hostess/cashier station between the kitchen and dining area. The result is more space for guests to dine-in.
The entire restaurant is refreshed with cool green paint, Chinese artwork and new tables and chairs.
And while the food is prepared quickly, this is not fast-food. Dishes are beautifully presented on real plates with a choice of chopsticks or silverware. No single-use tableware or a paper wrappers in sight.
Today, Mr. Xia’s iteration of Steam is all about authenticity, top notch ingredients, and affordability.
“Just like Ollie’s, my goal is for families with kids to come here,” he said at lunchtime the day after Christmas, when every seat was taken.
Mr. Xia said he hears often from customers that they miss Greenwich’s family style restaurants of the past. Gone of course are DaVinci’s Ristorante, Thataway and the Chopping Block, but this is the gap Xia aims to fill with both Ollie’s and Steam.
And while the Steam’s menu is designed to be ordered online for easy take-out and delivery, Xia said the take-out menu is not downgraded.
“The food is authentic, which is why we have so have many Chinese customers,” he said.
Indeed, Steam has a new Facebook group with a menu written in Chinese for Chinese customers.
The staff are mostly Chinese, including Chef Gong and his wife Ling Li who is well known for her handmade dim sum pastry. The couple worked in Beijing before coming to the US and working at Peter Chang’s restaurants for eight years, including time at his Washington, DC restaurant and then five years at his Stamford restaurant.
“This couple love cooking and are very creative,” Xia said. “They want the best ingredients and to give people an authentic experience.”
Still, Mr. Xia said that with Chinese food, many customers stick to ordering dishes they’ve heard of, like Sesame Chicken and Lo Mein.
So on Tuesday we tried some authentic Chinese dishes, including Basil eggplant and tofu, Chicken lettuce wrap, Bamboo fish (deep-fried, with cumin and sichuan spices) and Coral fish (deep fried, with sweet & sour sauce). All were delicious and unlike anything we’d experienced before.
“My main purpose for this restaurant is to have people gradually try something new,” Xia said. “Sometimes I’ll offer kids a sample so they’ll try new things.”
And the pricing is very reasonable, both at lunch (Monday to Friday 11-3) and dinner. Lunch portions are large and for $14, Xia guests choose from options such as Three Pepper Beef or Coconut Curry Chicken, each with a side of jasmine rice or brown rice.
“My goal is for kids to come here after school when they’re hungry and enjoy a meal,” Xia said.
While it is a challenge to offer large portions, top quality ingredients and affordable prices, given rents in Greenwich what they are, Mr. Xia said momentum is building.
Having opened in August, Mr. Xia said on hot days did a brisk business selling bubble teas, with flavors including Passionfruit, Mango, Strawberry, Lychee, Coconut, Taro, Thai, Matcha, Original and Brown Sugar.
See you at Steam!
Steam is located at 374 Greenwich Ave.
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am- 10:00pm