Zen Wok Fusion is growing up and expanding into some fancy new digs up north.
This is a second location for the little 3-year-old restaurant in the Tower District, which will keep its original location open.
The restaurant got so many people at the Tower location who lived in north Fresno and worked downtown — probably 80% of its lunch business — that its owner decided to open the new place at 6731 N. Palm Ave. near Herndon Avenue. This one is called just Zen Wok and is in the same shopping center as Club Habanos and Cracked Pepper Bistro’s new location.
Zen Wok will keep the same food as the Tower District location, but a lot is different: There will be more food to choose from, including vegan and gluten-free options, and 150 craft beers and 100 wines to choose from, two big patios and a newly glammed up interior.
Zen Wok is scheduled to open 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19. The new space is more than twice the existing one. Tyler Mackey of Urban Upcycle redid the interior — it used to be Samba Brazilian Steakhouse — with red walls, leopard-print seating and red chandeliers.
A bar with a brick facade will be home 12 beers on tap, and in the long run, up to 250 bottled beers and more than 100 wines.
“No other Chinese restaurant has this selection of beer,” says Craig Dixon, who oversees the bar.
For food, Zen Wok will continue its Asian fusion cuisine, mixing Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and American flavors. What’s on the menu in Tower will stay, so you can still get that honey walnut shrimp the restaurant is known for and the pho with a broth that’s slow-cooked for 10 to 12 hours.
But there will also be a bar menu with some creative options, such as kung pao chicken and pepper beef sliders. There will be several types of wings too, including Sriracha wings.
The restaurant will offer gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes. Some of the vegan dishes use a vegetable protein that owner Andy Karsh says is the best he’s tried.
Zen Wok also has two separate patios — one for smokers and one non-smoking — covered in lights and vines.
The large patios are tucked between Parma and Cracked Pepper Bistro’s patios. Both restaurants moved into the center in recent years. Together the restaurants promise to form a bustling, almost European-themed corner of the shopping center when the weather warms up.