Gan Shan Station is the epitome of an Asian hybrid restaurant offering Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. Some think it revolting to assemble such a menagerie of Eastern tastes together under one roof. I think it’s a veritable passport on the Orient Express to all the wonders of east Asian cuisine.
Gan Shan Station is housed within a repurposed filling station, evident from the building’s shape and interior’s lightly-hued, exposed cinder block walls. The restaurant has a very industrial feel – you’ll either like it or you won’t. I personally love it.
The main focus of the restaurant is the bustling open air kitchen situated behind the bar… my favorite vantage point. A good selection of wine, beer and sake are all available during lunch and dinner. All the food is locally sourced, when possible, keeping pace with the essence of what Asheville represents.
During a dinner visit I ordered the Salt and Pepper Tofu, as well as the Kimchi. Now I suggest that unless you know what you’re getting into, this might not be the recommendation for you. If you’re familiar with tofu, you won’t be disappointed as it is slightly crisp, smoked with herbs, scallions, a slight dusting of Szechuan peppercorns and served with a ginger-shoyu sauce.
Same goes for the Kimchi. I am very familiar with these flavors, so to me it was wonderful. I’d suggest that if you’re feeling adventurous and want step outside of your comfort zone, try the kimchi but be cognizant that you are ordering fermented cabbage and vegetables – good for the gut, but perhaps unusual for the palate. It’s definitely an acquired taste for most Americans.
I visited on another occasion and enjoyed a glass of Riesling along with what seems to be a frequently changing Rice Bowl creation. What I had was a wonderful mixture of tofu, rice, peanuts, Brussel sprouts, chili sauce, bean sprouts, lemongrass and a few other vegetables. Whatever the exact concoction was, it was truly amazing. The layered flavors of sweetness and spiciness really enticed my taste buds. I am sure to return often, in desperate pursuit, chasing the dragon, in order to find the precise combination that was undeniably extraordinary.
I recommend Gan Shan Station to those who enjoy the flavors of Asian-fusion, and I certainly think it is the perfect springboard for the neophyte looking to expand their tastes beyond what can typically be found in a white cardboard take-out box.
Open Monday through Saturday, Gan Shan Station always seems to be busy, especially in the evenings. They are located at 143 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Phone: 828.774.5280 Check out their website at: www.ganshanstation.com