Change and Growth Brings Something for Everyone – Corner 17
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO: (STLRestaurant.News) – Corner 17 – When Corner 17 opened in 2013 along the 6600 block of Delmar, it didn’t take diners in The Loop long to notice. The Asian restaurant was an authentic breath of fresh air, offering a culture of new flavors to an entertainment district built on fun and adventure. In the three years it’s been open, Corner 17 is consistently ranked in the top 10 among the hundreds of Asian restaurants in the St. Louis area (It’s currently #10).
From the beginning, owner Ivan Wei’s concept was simple: offer traditional Chinese food that would remind Asian students of home and take Western palates to a whole new place. Unlike Wei’s Joy Luck Buffet (8030 Manchester Rd, Brentwood) which focuses on American-style Chinese buffet and spicy Sichuan dishes, Corner 17’s specialties are bubble tea, handmade noodles, dumplings and other authentic Asian favorites.
The bubble tea or milk tea is essentially sweetened black tea mixed with a little milk, a bit of flavored syrup and maybe some fruit. It’s shaken and chilled, then poured over lightly sweetened boba (chewy black beads of tapioca). It’s Taiwanese in origin, and simply delicious.
Drinks aside, the real stars at Corner 17 are the noodles. You can watch as the hand pulled noodles being expertly stretched and cooked to order. This treatment gives the noodles a springier quality that holds up well in broth. The shaved noodles are fat ribbons of fresh, knife-cut dough cooked as it’s ordered. All the noodles can be had stir fried, or in soup served with bok choy and a protein of choice in a beef bone broth. That traditional broth imparts a deep, rich flavor that is the very definition of Asian comfort food. But it’s not vegetarian.
Wei did bring a little of Joy Luck’s spicy Sichuan tradition to the Corner 17 menu in the form of spicy Mala soup bowls and stir fries. Diners can create their own favorite dish by selecting the spice level (0-3) and then choosing the proteins and veggies to include (at least 5). Among the choices are familiar ingredients like broccoli, bok choy, chicken, and deveined shrimp, but there’s also lotus root, dried bean curd, wood ear (mushrooms), and beef tripe skin.
Last year Wei took advantage of the closing of Qdoba next door. He moved his authentic Asian restaurant, Corner 17, into the larger space at 6625 Delmar Blvd. Wei tapped the designers at Tao+Lee to create a new dining room there that’s double the size of the original. The design of the new restaurant is as refreshing as the food. But Wei didn’t stop there.
He opened Joy Luck Chinese Express Grill in the old Corner 17 footprint at 6623 Delmar. The grill cafe offers the Americanized Mandarin food that’s more familiar to most Westerners, and it’s pre-cooked to speed up service. Fortunately for diners in a rush, you can still get the full beverage menu at the grill cafe, so you can have that exotic bubble tea with your more familiar beef and broccoli.
Wei’s original goal was to offer authentic Chinese food, and he has, but change has become the theme of his restaurant. The menu at Corner 17 is updated regularly, based on customer suggestions, which Wei openly invites. That way, he can keep giving customers a genuine taste of the Chinese traditions they crave.
Corner 17 Noodles & Bubble Tea
6625 Delmar Blvd.
University City, MO
Joy Luck Chinese Express Grill & Cafe
6623 Delma Blvd.
University City, MO
Joy Luck Buffet
8030 Manchester Rd.
Owner: Ivan Wei