Despite the success of their Blue Dragon Restaurant in Red Deer and Bamboo Hut in Sylvan Lake, the Sok family has been constrained by the size of the kitchens in those Asian-themed restaurants.
They plan to address this limitation at their next eatery: Sophear Restaurant & Bar.
Tentatively scheduled to open on April 8 at 6712 Gaetz Ave. — the former premises of New Year Restaurant — Sophear will give the Soks the elbow room they need to really get adventurous in the kitchen. Pete Sok lists stuffed chicken wings, shrimp lollipop, duck tacos and lemongrass chicken lettuce wraps as among the dishes his family plans to include on their new menu.
That menu, he said, will focus on modern Asian cuisine from regions like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We have greats chefs in our family,” said Sok, who will operate the business with his brothers Pon and Dan, and his sister Sue. “We’ve taken recipes from our grandparents, aunts and uncles, our sister Sue — who is an absolute wonderful chef — and the inspiration from the food that our parents Soyi Vong and Chan Nan Sok had given us.
“We’re going for authentic Asian flavours with more of a modern flare,” he said, adding that the Asian influence will spill over to the martinis and cocktails served in Sophear’s bar.
“I’m hoping to just be able to provide our city with some new and exciting flavours, both food and beverage.”
Sok has a chef de cuisine diploma from Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. He and his brothers worked in the local restaurant industry for a number of years before buying the Blue Dragon from Sue and converting it to Cambodian and Thai cuisine. Three years ago, they acquired the Bamboo Hut.
Sok and his siblings bought New Year Restaurant, which was a Chinese food institution in Red Deer, earlier this year when its owners decided to retire. They’ve spent the past month renovating the building, including adding a bar.
The restaurant will have seating for 69, with the bar able to accommodate 65.
Sophear means “wise man” in the Cambodian language of Khmer, said Sok, and is his birth name.
Sophear Restaurant & Bar will be open daily at 11:30 a.m., with dining until 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar will operate until 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until midnight Friday and Saturday.