photo by Chris Thelen
For more than 20 years, the Shangri-La restaurant on Washington Road has been at the pinnacle of Augusta’s authentic Chinese dining experience. And the main ingredient to its success is no ancient secret. Known for its inventive flavors and elegant dining space, the restaurant, begun by entrepreneur Sho Chin Pearce, has continued to expand its repertoire in the capable hands of her son and daughter-in-law, Kuan and Susie Kuo. Each year when the couple travels worldwide, they gather Asian-inspired tastes and treasures to introduce, entice and share with their customers.
Whether the pair sups in Paris, Japan, Hong Kong, China or in their native countries of Singapore and Taiwan, they are usually on the prowl for something tantalizing to bring home.
“Different parts of China have different kinds of menus, a different style, a different kind of food,” Susie explains. “So we always want to learn which part of China likes what kind of cuisine. Some like it more blended, some like a heavier taste, some like spicy. We try to bring it back and implement it on our menu.”
While guests come to the eatery first seeking the fusionesque sweet to spicy dishes, they also relish the upscale ambience with its mottled red glass pendant lighting and white linen-covered tables. As with the menu, the Kuos frequently update and enhance their decor with delightful touches collected during their trips, including paintings and antiques.
In the kitchen, the Kuos strive to bring the purest versions of Chinese-blended foods to their restaurant, while still accommodating their clientele’s particular appetites.
“We try to bring something new to our customers but also keep it the way they like it here,” says Susie, acknowledging the particular desires of a Southern palate.
Guests can always find familiar menu favorites like the hearty soups—wonton, egg drop or miso—and the assorted appetizers—egg rolls and pot stickers—and the golden crispies—shrimp, peking duck and sole. But perhaps one of the best-loved elements at Shangri La is the off-menu delicacies.
These unabashedly true-to-origin creations can be in high demand especially during Masters week, when many international guests seeking a genuine Asian meal fill the tables. Not to worry. The Kuos know their customers and their cuisine equally well. World travellers and local guests alike will revel in the mingled tastes of the Far East brought near at Shangri La.