Sample a small plate of Filet Mignon Wellington at Aura, a new take on American cuisine through the Wasabi restaurant group.
Writer: Karla Walsh
Photographer: Duane Tinkey
When we caught up with Jay Wang, owner of the Wasabi restaurants located throughout the metro, we thought the discussion was going to revolve around Aura, which at press time was expected to open in mid-February in the space once occupied by Trostel’s Dish in Clive. But during the conversation, we learned Wang had quietly been hustling on another project just down the street: Papaya Asian Street Food.
Wang says the pandemic affected the timing of the openings: “It was hard to find people to do the construction work, and many things we wanted for each space was back-ordered.” Channeling the meaning of “aura,” which Wang defines as good vibe or good energy, he forged ahead with both brands.
At press time, Aura was planning to offer new American cuisine; think Ahi tuna tartar, oysters from both coasts, American Wagyu beef tataki and beef Wellington. “The dishes blend lots of Asian spices with European cooking techniques,” Wang explains.
The kitchen is led by Jake Kim, a Korean-born chef who went to culinary school in Sydney, Australia, and specializes in Korean and European cuisine.
Wang and his team flipped the former Pieology space into the fast-casual Papaya Asian Street Food, which opened in mid-January. “We call it ‘Cali-Asian cuisine’ featuring Southeast Asian cuisine with a California twist,” Wang says.
Gluten-free options abound on the health-focused menu, including sandwiches, noodle bowls, salads and rice bowls. (Aura: 12851 University Ave., #400, Clive; auradsm.com. Papaya Asian Street Food: 255 N.W. 128th St., #100, Clive; papayastreetfood.com)
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