Make your Christmas dining plans now

Oh Yeah! China Bistro is among the Wichita restaurants that will be open on Christmas Day this year.

Oh Yeah! China Bistro is among the Wichita restaurants that will be open on Christmas Day this year.

After several people e-mailed me this week wanting to know where they could dine out on Christmas Day, I decided I’d better get going a little early this year.

I could have waited until next week, but then you’d be making your plans with only five days to spare.

So here it is: My annual list of restaurants that are open on Christmas. I’ll be in town this year and will be choosing one from the list myself.

It’s the usual collection if Asian restaurants, bar and grills, a couple of hotel buffets and some 24-hour family dining places.

Let me know if you notice any I missed.

Lunar New Year: Time for dancing and dining

The Lunar New Year is nigh, and a couple of local Asian restaurants will be celebrating with colorful, dance-y displays. (It’s the year of the sssssssssssssnake, by the way.)

On Saturday, Oh Yeah! China Bistro at 3101 N. Rock Road will be putting on a traditional lion dance.

Traditional dancers at Saigon.

It’ll start at 1:30 p.m. and is believe to bring good luck and fortune to the business. Call 316-425-7700 for more information.

Also, popular local restaurant Saigon at 1103 N. Broadway, which specializes in Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The restaurant will have cultural dancers in the restaurant at 11:30 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m on Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 316-262-8134.

Dining dispatch from 29th & Rock

I drove out east today to check on Oh Yeah! China Bistro, the restaurant formerly known as Zen (and formerly known as vegetarian), and I was struck by how much restaurant activity is going on in the block of Rock between 29th and K-96.

Oh Yeah! opened at 3101 N. Rock Road with its new name and approach on May 15. The restaurant had operated as a vegetarian place for a couple of years, but the owners decided to put meat back on the menu and rename the place.

Across the street, a sign announces that El Agave will soon take over the space at 3320 N. Rock Road that most recently held Top China, a Chinese buffet place. El Agave will be a Mexican restaurant with a big tequila and margarita menu, and its owners hope to have it open later this summer.

A little further south, another sign announces that Wasabi, the sushi restaurant downtown at 912 E. Douglas, will open its east side location in the former Froz spot at 3242 N. Rock Road. Owners say it should be open in August.

And of course, right on the corner of 29th and Rock, Ben Arnold is busy working on his new breakfast-and-lunch spot in the former Chelsea’s space at 2949 N. Rock Road. He plans to open in July.

The new Noodles & Company is on that block, too, at 3300 N. Rock Road, and it’s always busy. And Amber Dunn just opened her Yogurt Xplosion yogurt shop at 3236 N. Rock Road.

That doesn’t even count the recently closed restaurants on the block, including the Bossa Grill at 3242 N. Rock Road and the Taco Tico at 3131 N. Rock Road. Wazabz Sushi Bar and Grill, which just opened in February at 3236 N. Rock Road, also is already closed.

The only restaurants on that block not hopping on merry-go-round, it appears, are Carlos O’ Kelly’s, Chipotle, Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings,  Il Ponte, Jimmy John’s, and Jimmie’s Diner.

And Hooters.

Zen Vegetarian adding meat, changing name

Two years after opening as one of Wichita’s first meat-free restaurants, Zen Vegetarian Cuisine at 3101 N. Rock Road is changing its approach — and its name.

Starting on May 1, Zen will be known as Oh Yeah China Bistro and will add meat dishes to its menu. Owner Shu Tsao, who previously operated Chinatown out of the space before remodeling it and adopting a Chinese vegetarian menu.

Tsao bought out her partner, Alan Hsu, so her daughter will move to Wichita from Houston to help manage the restaurant. Her husband, Robert Liao, will remain in the kitchen.

There just weren’t enough customers to support the business, said Tsao, who is a vegetarian. “It’s just not big enough,” she said of the vegetarian community in Wichita. “But they said, ‘We’ll still come if you keep our favorite dishes.’”

Tsao says she will keep many of Zen’s most popular meat-free dishes on the menu but will add back more traditional, sweet-and-sour-chicken type dishes plus Korean, Thai and Vietnamese fare.

Tsao also will add beer and wine to her offerings and will deliver within a four-mile radius of the restaurant.

For more information, call the restaurant at 316-425-7700.