Li, on the other hand, never expected to end up managing a restaurant. “I never thought I’d be in the restaurant business. I used to help my mom at her restaurant by working as a delivery boy, but I never thought I’d manage a restaurant. It just wasn’t for me, but when I came to America (from China), I began to help my uncle at his restaurants, and I started to learn the business side of things. Now, my uncle is letting us run this Brentwood operation, and we’re very excited about the opportunity.”
Li’s uncle Andy Tang is an experienced restaurant entrepreneur who owns six Bay Area restaurants. Mikado Bistro is the newest addition to the legacy. While Tang oversees his restaurants in San Francisco, he’s left Li and Chan in charge of the new Brentwood operation.
“I was a sushi chef for seven years,” Chan said. “I love to cook, but it’s exciting to get to plan the menu and oversee the kitchen. I do a little bit of everything now. I take orders, I cook, I even do the dishes if that’s what needs done. Right now, we just want to keep the business alive, so we’re working really hard, but it’s a lot of fun. A lot of work, but a lot of fun.”
The restaurant opened in March, but Mikado Bistro will host its grand opening tomorrow, May 1. To celebrate the occasion, all appetizers are free. Mikado’s menu features Chinese food and Japanese food, so customers can choose from options such as egg rolls and fried prawns from the Chinese side and soft shell crab and barbecue teriyaki short ribs on the Japanese side.
Chan said the menu is a work in progress and he plans to adjust it seasonally, so there will always be something new to try. Each week Chan and Li highlight a new item as a special, and if it sells well, it becomes a contender for the following season’s menu. Mikado also offers daily lunch specials. Japanese Bento Boxes are $8.95 while Chinese lunches are $5.99.
“Right now, customer service is our number-one priority,” Chan said, “so we want to offer a variety of meals at reasonable prices. Once we are established in the community, we’d like to have live music and host monthly karaoke contests. But for now, we’re taking it slow. Jun and I are learning a lot every day. We’ve got a good partnership going, and we hope to be here for a long time.”
Current bistro favorites are Mongolian beef and the Spicy Miami Roll, a spicy tuna roll topped with avocado, Tabasco sauce and spicy mango.
Once Mikado Bistro is established, the restaurant will offer free delivery services. Customers will be able to place orders for delivery by phone, fax or online beginning this summer. Mikado also offers patio dining, and a banquet room is available by request.
Mikado Bistro, located at 2500 Sand Creek Road, Suite A in Brentwood, is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. For more information or to place a to-go order, call 925-308-7108 or visit www.mikadobistro.com. To-go orders may also be faxed to 925-308-7169.