NORMAN — The hits just keep coming to Sooner central as the owners of Grand House unveil their newest concept, 180 Meridian Grill.
This year has been a succession of culinary coups in Norman, starting with the arrival of Local and then the opening of the first Chuy's west of Stroud.
180 Meridian Grill, 2541 W Main St., marks a subtle change of direction for owners Kathy and Thai Thien. But when you consider the evolution of their home base concept, it's not hard to see why the couple's newest venture isn't another Asian bistro but Asian food 2.0.
The Thiens began their successful career as restaurateurs at NW 23 and Classen, where a CVS drugstore now stands. The old place was across the street and just southeast of an all-night Village Inn Pancake House.
The original Grand House served westernized Chinese fare still common on buffets across the country. When the Village Inn closed in 1994, the Thiens jumped on the space and, with the help of designer Michelle Stapleton, converted the former pancake house into an elegant, modern Asian bistro.
For their new fusion concept, the Thiens re-enlisted Stapleton to create a similarly intimate setting with a modern, artful vibe, but they wanted the menu to be a progression.
After going from assorted proteins in kung pao or General Tso to Vietnamese noodle bowls, Peking duck, sushi and pad thai, the only logical step was to re-imagine dishes from around the world with distinctly Asian ingredients.
But don't worry, Thai promises 180 Meridian still will deliver the classic Asian flavors Grand House built its reputation upon.
On the appetizer menu you'll find the famous Grand House Fried Shrimp-Stuffed Jalapeno, but you'll also find pot stickers filled with chipotle chicken, black beans and roasted corn. The Ahi Wonton Crisps are a major discovery, playing like Asian nachos topped with seared ahi with radish sprouts, wasabi mayonnaise and eel sauce. You'll also find Asian-style chicken wings and Tempura-battered cheese fries. Not exactly your regular Chinese takeout fare.