ChiChop Hibachi Grill and Fried Chicken Cafe, and Kung Fu Tea opened on Dec. 19 at 8404 Lockwood Ridge Road in southern Manatee County.
They are among a wave of new restaurants that have opened recently, bringing new flavors to Bradenton-area diners.
Diners were flocking to the new restaurant for lunch on Wednesday to sample the Taiwanese-inspired cuisine and bubble tea, alerted to its opening by the unofficial foodie text message network.
The restaurant is two franchises under one roof. The ChiChop is the fourth in Florida. The others are located in Riverview in Hillsborough County, and Largo and Pinellas Park in Pinellas County.
Owner Michael Dong, 42, said he was certain that the Centre At University Parkway shopping center, anchored by a Walmart, would be a good location for a new restaurant.
After all, he opened Yuniku, an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, across the street nearly three years ago.
So, what’s more popular, dishes such as the Samurai Crispy Chicken, at $6.99 for a single or $9.99 for a combo, or the bubble tea?
Hard to say, but college student Devin Feng was there for the bubble tea.
Customers can order tea by size, and specify their toppings, choosing options such as bubbles, Oreo, mung bean, red bean, nata jelly, mango jelly and more, and by the ice and sugar levels as well. The choices seem endless: classic black, green oolong, winter melon and more. Also offered: a wide variety of milk teas, slushes and punches.
“I was told about this restaurant by a friend,” Feng said as he waited for his drink to be prepared. “I come here mostly for the bubble tea.”
Lunch entrees are served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and come with vegetables, soup and white rice or fried rice. Hibachi steak and hibachi shrimp are each listed at $9.25. Samurai Crispy Chicken and fried calamari are available for $7.99 each.
The subtext at ChiChop might be “for the love of chicken.”
Make that fried chicken.
“The menu features a variety of selections, including our famous crispy fried chicken and seafood dishes cooked to perfection, as well as other recipes ranging from bento boxes to noodles,” according to the ChiChop website.
Diners can choose from deep fried entrees, grilled entrees and hibachi entrees.
Appetizers are available starting at $2.95. Side orders, including white rice, are available starting at $2.
Restaurant hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week. The 25-seat restaurant also offers take out.