There were three different birthday celebrations happening the Sunday we walked into Chang’s Food in West Valley City. The family parties that packed the house are testament to the popularity of the Chinese-Venezuelan restaurant. After the third round of “Feliz Cumpleaños,” an older man unwrapped a brand new Cuatro, its high-lacquer shine catching the afternoon light. He tuned the instrument—similar in appearance to a ukulele—and began to play. It didn’t stop there. Multiple sets of maracas emerged from unknown places and an impromptu concert broke out in the middle of the restaurant, with the patrons and staff singing along to traditional Venezuelan songs. It was the rare (for Utah) fusion of food from Venezuela and China that brought us to Chang’s Food, but we stayed for the party.
Chang’s Food gives a look inside a community and culture that many readers might not have known existed, and it is just one example of the pockets of rich culinary heritage dotting the Utah landscape, courtesy of food fusion pioneers.
If you want to continue on the South American-Asian fusion journey, there’s the family-owned Mixturas in Orem. The name of the restaurant literally means “mixture,” and they offer a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food. The roots of this culinary combination (you may hear it referred to as Nikkei) are familiar, with a Japanese diaspora in Peru leaving their mark on the local cuisine. Mixturas signature dishes include Peruvian-style sashimi and Lomo Saltado (steak, tomatoes and onions, stir-fried in soy sauce base).
845 N. 100 West, Ste. 103, Orem
Fav Bistro bills itself as a “Thai + Fuzion” experience. It has a wide menu of veggie and fruit-packed dishes that skew on the health-conscious side and are inspired by Thai, Vietnamese, European and North American culinary classics. This results in exciting specials like Steak Massaman Poutine and Seafood Pad Thai In A Blanket. Chef and owner Anny Sooksri is from Thailand, where her grandmother inspired her to cook, and behind the Thai restaurants Chabaar Beyond Thai and Tea Rose Diner.
1984 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay
Two brothers—King and Johnson Chang—with mixed Venezuelan and Chinese heritage opened the restaurant in 2020, pioneering a cuisine in Utah that has been a staple in Venezuela for some time. In their homeland, Chinese immigrants to Venezuela brought their culinary traditions, started families and opened up Chinese restaurants in Venezuela. Thus began the fusion of Chinese-centric cuisine cooked Venezuelan style.
The plates at Chang’s Food are served family style and meant to be shared. If you order nothing else on the Chang’s Food menu, get the fried rice. You can thank me later. The Venezuelan influence on the Chinese standard is subtle but savory and delicious. The Lumpias (egg rolls) are another standout, along with the Chinese Ribs. After you’ve stuffed yourself to the brim, do yourself another favor, ask for the pour-over Venezuelan coffee at the end of the meal.
3576 S. Redwood Rd., West Valley City
World Famous Yum Yum Asian Food Truck
At this point, we might acknowledge that Asian fusion could have an edge on other food fusions (it’s probably the egg rolls). And, you can get it without engaging in the traditional dine-in experience. Based in Layton (but by no means inhibited by city boundaries) the World Famous Yum Yum Asian Food Truck serves up Filipino-inspired Asian fusion cuisine. The food truck had a rough year in 2021 after it was the target of anti-Asian hate and experienced a fryer explosion, but now it has bounced back with the help of community support. Through special orders and catering, they’re back to offering up dishes like traditional Filipino Sisig both in a rice bowl or in a taco, Filipino Spaghetti (featuring Filipino hot dogs and banana ketchup) and, of course, Lumpias.
Serving Northern Utah, 801-719-1222