By Patrick Fennelly   Published Mar 01, 2004 at 5:43 AM Photography: Jeff Sherman

{image1} The northwest corner of Oakland and Locust is now home to Chin's Asia Fresh, the newest addition to the "quick-casual dining" family. A fusion of pan-Asian cuisine including Cantonese, Szechuan, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese, it offers another upscale fast food option to Milwaukee, which already has Noodles and Company, Panera and other similarly-styled eateries.

Chin's Asia Fresh prides itself on being "wok'd-to-order fresh." The process is simple and works just like at a Noodles and Company: order, grab a seat and your food is served to you. Take-out is also available.

The menu is abundant and affordable. Start your meal with Cream Cheese Puffs (3 for $2), Potstickers (2 for $2), or Lettuce Wraps ($5.25). Keep it light with Sesame Caesar Salad ($4.75) or a Chinese Chicken Salad ($5.75). Add tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp to your vegetable stir fry. There are nine different stir-fry sauces, ranging in flavor and spice. If noodles are your thing, have the Teriyaki Udon Noodles or the Adobo Noodles (both $5.25). Or if you like to stick to the classics, have the Lemon Chicken or the Sweet and Sour Chicken (both $6.75).

The first area Chin's Asia Fresh opened in Brookfield on Bluemound Road in June 2002. Since then, two restaurants have opened in Madison and another in Rochester, Minn.

Chin's is named for its founder, Leeann Chin, who immigrated to the United States in 1956 to run a small home-based sewing business. By preparing traditional Chinese meals for her customers as a gesture of appreciation, she refined her craft and developed a reputation for culinary excellence.


In 1980, with the support of friends and admirers Robert Redford and Sean Connery, she opened up her first Leeann Chin's Chinese Cuisine with great success. Even though she is now 70, retired and living in Seattle, Chin still remains a celebrity in Minneapolis for not only her savory original recipes, but for her philanthropy.

The warm décor of the restaurant provides a lovely ambience; it is an eclectic mix of urban and Asian flavors.

"Chin's represents the balance of fresh and fast, indulgent and helpful, happiness and harmony, affordable and unique. People want both," says Jeff Siegle, director of marketing for Leeann Chin, Inc.

Chin's Asia Fresh hopes to add 2 to 5 more restaurants in the surrounding area. To find out more about Chin's Asia Fresh, including the full menu check out