Faces of Menlo

Post image for Jason Kwan is Menlo Park’s unofficial “Mr. Restaurant”

You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at restaurants Jason Kwan owns in Menlo Park, and you can actually walk from one place to another. That’s what Jason does daily as he looks in at each of his businesses.

Three of his restaurants bear his namesake, at least partially — J & J Hawaiian BBQ, Jason’s Cafe, and Chef Kwan’s. He bought the latter in 2015 from the family that owned Su Hong To Go, along with the long-shuttered Su Hong sit down restaurant on El Camino.

The immediate name change of the To Go restaurant was a requirement of the deal, as there is another Su Hong owned by a different family member in Palo Alto. The sit down restaurant was finally reborn in late January and renamed Yum Cha Palace.

“While Chef Kwan’s serves Sichuan style food, which is spicy, we’re serving Hong Kong style/Cantonese food here, which is lighter,” Jason explained, sitting in his newest restaurant. “We also serve dim sum at lunch, with just a few dim sum options at dinner.”

Jason immigrated from Vietnam in 1982 and attended James Lick High School. He had no formal education after that and described his restaurant knowledge as self-taught. “I’ve worked every job in a restaurant,” he said. “Dishwasher, bus boy, waiter. I watched others and learned how to cook and manage.”

Yum cha means “drink tea” in Cantonese Chinese. “Tea and dim sum go together,” Jason said. “They balance. If you eat dim sum, you must drink tea.”

He said the reason it took so long to open the sit-down restaurant was all the different permits required as well as the remodeling, with some of the materials ordered from overseas suppliers.

“It’s exciting to finally be open,” he said. “I like socializing with the customers, learning from them.”

Given that he owns four restaurants offering four different kinds of food, we were curious what he liked. “Like my children, I like American food,” he said. “Pancakes, omelettes, bacon and ham — they all feel new to me.

“When I came here 35 years ago, it seemed like everyone was eating like crazy. Now people want to eat healthier — seafood and vegetables. So that’s what we’re focusing on here.”

Photo by Linda Hubbard (c) 2017

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Hello there from one Hamilton to another!

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Ladera resident Linden Hamilton went with her mom, Laura (a long-time InMenlo contributing photographer), to see the musical Hamilton in San Francisco over the weekend. And who did she run into but the star of the show, Michael Luwoye. Writes Laura: “Linden (Hamilton) after the show asked Hamilton for a selfie! He was so kind. Thank you @shnsf […]

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Psychologists Lori and Tom Plante co-author book to help college students graduate with honor

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Menlo Park residents Lori and Tom Plante have enjoyed separate careers in the field of psychology, she as a clinician with a practice downtown and he as a member of the faculty at the Santa Clara University. Now they’ve come together to co-author a book that may prove helpful to parents of college-age or college-bound kids as well as college […]

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Physician David Axelrod shares his experiences at Standing Rock with Menlo Park community

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Before last year, Menlo Park resident David Axelrod, a pediatric cardiologist at Stanford Hospital, had not heeded the call to be a medical volunteer. Standing Rock and the protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline changed that. David went twice, for four days in December, where he did, as he describes “more digging out of snow, […]

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From interior design to furniture – a journey that leads to Moxiemade

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For the past seven years, Nancy Evars and Dimitra Anderson have offered interior design services, bringing, as they say, “a bit of moxie” to their work. “We are driven women, both from New Jersey,” said Dimitra. Added Nancy: “We love to work, we love to be creative.” Today they’re launching a new business called, fittingly enough, Moxiemade, offering a […]

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In new book, Menlo Park resident Alexander Kugushev ponders why American education lags

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Editor’s note: Menlo Park resident, author and publisher Alexander Kugushev has written a new book We’re 34th in Education – It’s Our Culture. Here he offers his opinion about what is right and wrong about our educational system. The United States ranks 34th in the world in education (per the Program of International Student Assessment — 2014/2016). […]

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Michael Shewmaker examines life through the lens of poetry

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Growing up in a small Texas town, poet and Menlo Park resident Michael Shewmaker recalls that “the quickest way to commit social suicide was to be smart.” So, he pursued athletics — soccer specifically, which he also played in college — while all the while pursuing a more cerebral life on the side. “I’ve had […]

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Posh Bagel’s Anthony Lao shares his refugee story – Part 2

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Editor’s note: Here is the second part of a story about a downtown Menlo Park merchant, Anthony On Lao. It was reported and written by Menlo-Atherton High School students Megan McDonnell and Jackson Confer with photos by Erica Miner. The first part can be found here. Finally, in 1985, Lao and his sister’s family arrived in Los […]

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Posh Bagel’s Anthony Lao shares his refugee story – Part 1

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Editor’s note: From time to time, we’re pleased to spotlight the good work being done by Menlo-Atherton High School journalism students. This story about a downtown Menlo Park merchant, Anthony On Lao, seems particularly timely. It was reported and written by Megan McDonnell and Jackson Confer with photos by Erica Miner. Due to it’s length, we […]

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Urban Botanica comes to Allied Arts offering flowers and plants

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After a career in commercial real estate and property management, Lisa Berlin-Solberg (pictured left) took a break. She decided to enroll in a floral design class, which led to working part-time at a florist in Lafayette. She then went back to her career while she researched how to make a living as a florist. Eventually, she found a floral […]

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Three Menlo Park teens named candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

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Three residents of Menlo Park — Jamie L. Cleron (Crystal Springs Uplands School), Alexa Thomson (Sacred Heart Preparatory; photo right) and Andrew D. Yates (Menlo-Atherton High School; photo below right) have been selected as candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. They were selected from nearly 3.5 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in 2017. […]

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