by Corin Hirsch
After sitting empty for years, the former Chittenden Bank building on Montpelier's State Street is back in business — as a sushi restaurant. Asiana House opened on Tuesday night.
Chef Gary Ma opened the restaurant with his wife, Sandra, and he was busy behind the sushi bar last night turning out nigiri sushi and maki rolls for what looked like an almost-full house on the eatery's second night in operation.
A gleaming bank safe door in the foyer is a reminder of what was here before, and building owner Jesse Jacobs' renovation, which took place before the Mas signed on as tenants, retains a vintage look.
Though Ma eventually wants to roll out new dishes, Asiana House's menu and prices are practically identical to those of its sister restaurant in Burlington — sushi, a long list of vegetarian and specialty maki rolls, even fried oysters and bibimbap — but the Scott 2 Hottie Maki roll, a torched roll with with salmon and belly salmon, avocado, spicy mayo and spicy teriyaki sauce, looks like an addition.
A row of martini glasses hangs upside-down in a rack behind the sushi counter, but they can't be used yet; a liquor license is still pending. In this weather, tea is satisfying, anyway.
Asiana House in Montpelier is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.