In Troy: 100 North, where the East meets Western comfort food

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Amy Wan (right) and chef Mike Wheeler go over the night's dinner menu at 100 North Restaurant Saturday.
Amy Wan (right) and chef Mike Wheeler go over the night’s dinner menu at 100 North Restaurant Saturday.

copyright the Chronicle January 21, 2015

by David Dudley

TROY — Amy Wan grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents, Emily and Kenny Wan, own and run Wok and Roll in Newport. So when Ms. Wan opened her own restaurant, 100 North in Troy on January 2, it would seem like a natural progression. But, Ms. Wan said, her venture began as more of a joke.

“My Dad bought the building at 100 Route 100 at auction,” Ms. Wan said. “He had this building, but he didn’t want to open another Chinese restaurant. We were talking, and I said I’ll take it! He asked if I was serious. That’s how it became mine.”

The building, which was shuttered for several years, has undergone a complete transformation since Ms. Wan took over. She likens the remodeling process, a ten-month effort, to bringing a baby to term. Though the process was ugly, the results are beautiful.

The dining area is an open space with six booths and a few tables. Light pours in through the windows, illuminating the unfinished pine walls. The atmosphere is soft and inviting. On Saturday afternoon the place was packed. Each time a table or booth was cleared, another group of hungry diners appeared, seeking some good food.

Though Ms. Wan spent years working for her parents, soaking up their wisdom where cooking and running a business is concerned, she was drawn to return to China to learn more about traditional Chinese cuisine.

“After graduating from Johnson State College, I spent some time in Lanzhou, where I learned to make hand-pulled noodles, traditional pastries, and stir fry recipes,” she said.

Still, 100 North is not a Chinese restaurant.

“I like to think of our menu as Eastern cuisine meets Western comfort food,” Ms. Wan said. “I want to blend my culture with local tastes. Really, I want everybody to be happy.”

That’s a tall order, but Ms. Wan and company are largely succeeding.

For those interested in traditional fare, there are many dishes to choose from. For breakfast, there are omelets and pancakes, French toast and biscuits and gravy with sausage from Brault’s Meat Market and Slaughterhouse. Dishes such as the Porker, an assortment of bacon, sausages and ham, with eggs and home fries will satisfy the no nonsense palate.

For those with a sweet tooth, there are dishes like the apple bread pudding, made with apples, raisins, and toasted walnuts served with a side of maple whiskey sauce.

Lunch dishes include staples such as burgers and poutine, sandwiches and salads. For the more adventurous diners, the pulled pork mac-and-cheese sandwich with creamy slaw may be enticing.

Chef Mike Wheeler of Westfield has worked for the likes of the Hilton, Jay Peak, and the East Side.

“Ms. Wan caught up to me one day and asked if I wanted a job,” Mr. Wheeler said. “I was unemployed at the time, so it didn’t take too much thought. I love opening a place and making it work.”

Ms. Wan gives her own lemon cake a taste test. “I love food,” Ms. Wan said. “I don't make anything for my customers that I wouldn't eat myself.”  Photos by David Dudley
Ms. Wan gives her own lemon cake a taste test. “I love food,” Ms. Wan said. “I don’t make anything for my customers that I wouldn’t eat myself.” Photos by David Dudley

Ms. Wan said that Mr. Wheeler’s expertise in traditional European fare is the perfect counter balance to her wilder ideas.

Chef Carol Bonneau, former proprietor of the now defunct Bonneau’s Restaurant in North Troy, rounds out Ms. Wan’s kitchen team.

“I have a running list of food ideas,” Ms. Wan said. “I give the good ones to Mike. He makes them, critiques them, and then we either cut the idea or push it.”

“Amy comes up with the ideas, and I try and make it happen,” Mr. Wheeler added.

Though some of Ms. Wan’s ideas are not the norm, they are often inspired and tasty.

“I make the kinds of things that I want to eat,” Ms. Wan said. Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Bonneau make sure Ms. Wan doesn’t go too far overboard.

“One of my favorites is the French toast with brie and Nutella and whipped cream,” Ms. Wan said.

Then there are other dishes like Bahn Mi, made with marinated pork, liverwurst, pork belly, and topped with acidic Asian slaw.

For dinner, there are burgers and chops, sesame salmon and Korean short ribs. The ribs are slow braised in sweet and spicy red bean sauce and come with Kimchi (a traditional Korean side dish of fermented vegetables with a distinct spicy and sour flavor).

And what menu would be complete without desserts? Besides the crème brulee and peanut butter pie, Ms. Wan and her two chefs are nearly always at work experimenting with sweet finishers to top off the perfect meal.

Among the diners on Saturday were Mike and Margaret Derick of Newport. They had visited one of the older incarnations of the restaurant and were musing about the potential of the current occupants.

“If the people like the food, they’ll come,” Mr. Derick said, as he bit into his Reuben sandwich.

“We’ll definitely be back,” Ms. Derick added. “Mr. Derick’s the fussy one, but he liked his sandwich very much.”

Ms. Wan makes a point of getting fresh and local ingredients. She shops Brault’s, Vermont Coffee Roasters, and Cabot to name a few.

“I’m so thankful to my parents, and my staff,” Ms. Wan said. “Without them, none of this would be possible. It’s really a group effort.”

Ms. Wan’s desire to please as many diners as possible seems to be working. Diners on Saturday afternoon could be heard complimenting the food.

Still, she says her first month has been a little slow for her taste.

“We originally opened at 5:30 a.m.,” Ms. Wan said. “But we had to scale back. I’d like to be open for longer hours, but the demand has to be there.”

The restaurant’s current hours are: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. Thursday through Sunday it’s open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s closed on Tuesdays.

contact David Dudley at [email protected]

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