My culinary career started when I was about 10 years old working in my parents’ Japanese restaurant in Indianapolis. It’s ultimately what ignited my interest in the restaurant/hospitality industry.
I started Chop Chop Shop because since I was 17 years old, I planned on making my mark; but it wasn’t until I was 29 that we started the food truck (Kind Grinds). Then we opened the original Chop Chop Shop in a 1,000-square-foot restaurant before moving it to Seminole Heights about three-and-a-half years ago. In the same location, we recently closed Chop Chop Shop to open Chanko.
My Local Knowledge
My favorite place for coffee is Spaddy’s in Seminole Heights. They’re down the street from my restaurant, have a cool setup and are known to make a killer cup.
When I have guests visiting from out of town I take them to Tampa Riverwalk and Armature Works for people watching and to show off our city; Saigon Deli, Thinh An, Ranchero Tacos or Crazy Burrito for a quick bite, Beijing House for Sichuan cuisine and China Yuan for Cantonese.
My top pick for a night out is Viet Kitchen. It’s relatively new, but it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in Tampa, hands down. I love the green mango salad and variety of whelks.
My perfect day in Tampa looks like a bike ride along the Tampa Riverwalk, Bayshore Boulevard and Davis Islands (my favorite route), dinner with my wife at one of our favorite spots and maybe drinks at the house to cap the night off.
My favorite Tampa hidden gem is Mei’s World Pizza for their Taiwanese braised beef shank and hand-made noodle soup. The pizza is great, too. Don’t be fooled by the modest exterior. This establishment does what they do well.
Check out more Local Knowledge from Tampa Bay’s movers and shakers here.