AP NEWS

Sizzling Kitchen Moves to Larger Location

May 5, 2019

LOWELL -- The signs that Sizzling Kitchen needed to expand were there.

Customers eager to sit down would have to line up for lunch inside the cramped eatery at 478 Merrimack St. Co-owner Lowell Nguyen longed for a bigger kitchen space so he could dive into catering. At times, he’d have to turn down multiple big parties because there was no space.

Nguyen, of Pelham, began searching for a bigger location to move the business known for its fusion of Asian and Italian food. After several months, he and his wife, Tuyen Nguyen, were able to move to 602 Merrimack St. It’s a short walk from the original space.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while -- to expand,” said Nguyen, 41. “Now we don’t have to turn people down. Anyone can come and we can take any reservation.”

The old location, which featured mirrored walls covered with notes in different colored markers, had a maximum capacity of about 40 people. The new location, both a restaurant and lounge, can seat up to 99.

This Sizzling Kitchen is tidy and sticks to the business’ red-and-black color scheme. Cannoli shells are stacked neatly in glass cake domes near the counter and inspirational quotes are displayed on the walls. “Delicious Food Here!” one message reads on a glass wall by the restaurant’s entrance.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, servers rushed out of the back kitchen through red swing doors, their hands hidden under trays of steaming hot plates. Sizzling Kitchen was in the thick of lunch rush and nearly all the tables were filled with customers. The blue-tinted windows on the swing doors provided a glimpse at cooks preparing meals.

Tuyen, 36, stood behind a smooth granite counter lined with order forms. She said the response from the community has been great.

“It’s been really good,” she said. “Everyone’s liking it. The employees like it. It’s roomier for them. In the old place, we were all bumping into each other so it was hard for all of us.”

As part of the business expansion, the Nguyens have hired more servers. Lowell said he’s also working on a new menu which should be unveiled in a few weeks. It will feature more traditional Vietnamese dishes, Korean, and Italian food. Kimchi stew will also officially be added to the list of offerings. Nguyen said he currently makes the Korean dish as a special order for regular customers who call ahead.

Bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish that combines seasoned vegetables on top of a bed of rice and baked in a traditional hot stone bowl, is staying. Customers can still choose the kind of meat they want, or can opt for tofu if they wish.

“I want to eat here everyday,” Dwayne Clark, of Lowell, said moments after eating lunch here with his girlfriend, Kuntaearon Koeut. Clark, 44, said they eat at Sizzling Kitchen at least once a week.

On this Thursday, he ordered the chicken parmesan. “It was amazing,” Clark reported.

Koeut, 28, had the wonton soup and coconut shrimp spring rolls. She shared the rolls with Clark and in her hand was a to-go order.

“It’s bigger,” Clark noted of the new Sizzling Kitchen. “It’s beautiful.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.