It's been a long road, but former Aviary co-founder and co-chef Jasper Shen is finally making his dream to open a Chinese food restaurant celebrating "the food his mom used to make at home" a reality. The O reports Shen is opening the XLB Chinese food restaurant, at 4090 N. Williams Ave., formerly home to Lardo North, and he's aiming to open before the end of the year.
Shen, Sarah Pliner, and Kat Whitehead opened Aviary, NE Alberta's exceptional Asian-French restaurant, in 2011. All three were New York transplants with strong cooking backgrounds, with Shen bringing experience from New York's Aquavit and Provence. In 2014, the trio said they were on the road to opening a Chinese restaurant with "a menu focused on more traditional Chinese dishes, ones Shen would eat at home or in his hometown Chicago's Chinatown." Chinese food-inspired pop-ups held at Aviary commenced, but then the trio disbanded that same year. XLB marks Shen's return to the kitchen.
According to The O, Shen brings experience from New York's famous Joe's Shanghai Chinese soup dumplings restaurant, and XLB isn't going to serve "Americanized Chinese food." Instead, prepare for stir fries, bao, and noodles, with a focus on Chinese soup dumplings, aka xiaolongbao—all inspired by tradition.