Běndì Wok N’ Bar Now Open in German Village
Běndì Wok N’ Bar is bringing Asian eats back to German Village. The new Asian-fusion restaurant opened its doors at 277 E. Livingston Ave. in early March.
The address is the former home of Happy Dragon, and was previously attached to a Philco expansion project that never panned out, before being taken over by the Local Cantina restaurant group.
The group took ownership of the space along with Short North staple The Rossi in fall of 2019, and has been working to bring the concept to life ever since.
According to Běndì Wok General Manager Mike Hamer, the restaurant fills a gap for neighborhood diners.
When the restaurant group opened Jonys Sushi at 195 Thurman Ave. in German Village in late 2019, local operations manager Leanna McKenney-Heath says the concept saw huge success because there really wasn’t anywhere else to get sushi in the area.
“We always look at the neighborhood and what there is a lack of when it comes to opening a new restaurant,” she says.
German Village was missing that spot for classic Chinese takeout. However, Běndì Wok doesn’t stop at the expected dishes like General Tso’s, but takes a trip around the continent with influences from Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and even India.
There’s one dish in particular, though, that Běndì Wok wants to be known for. McKenney-Heath says from day one they’ve aimed to make the best Pad Thai in the city. And thus far, it has been one of the most popular dishes.
In the rice and noodle department, diners will also find classics like Fried Rice and Drunken Noodles. Exploring the menu’s curry and stir fry options, there’s everything from Green Curry to Pepper Steak to Sweet N Sour Chicken.
There’s also a trio of Bánh Mìs to choose from – short rib, shaved pork or veggie – with the sandwiches also shaping up to be an early menu favorite.
Běndì Wok accompanies its tour around the Asian continent with an extensive cocktail line, including a number of non-alcoholic and low-ABV sippers.
McKenney-Heath says they’ve seen a push in the industry for more mocktails and low proof drinks for folks that want to enjoy a night out without (or with minimal) drinking – and have options other than water. Hamer says it will be ideal for when Běndì Wok eventually opens for lunch hours.
Currently, Běndì Wok is open from 4 – 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant has slowly been expanding its hours and hopes to eventually be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Běndì Wok is open for dine-in and carryout. McKenney-Heath says they were banking on carryout being a popular option even before COVID, but now it’s an even bigger focus for the restaurant – enough so that carryout diners have their own entrance. Běndì Wok was able to open up a previously bricked-over entrance on Sixth Street to serve as a separate station for pick-up orders. It’s ideal for those still seeking minimal contact dining options.
Work is also wrapping up on Běndì Wok’s patio on the west side of the building. The outdoor seating faces the parking lot, a rarity for the neighborhood.
Běndì Wok joins a growing assortment of restaurants in the Local Cantina portfolio. In addition to the taco joint, which is up to 11 locations, the group owns Jonys Sushi and South Village Grille in German Village, Mid City Garage in Merion Village, and Local Bar and The Rossi in Short North.
The pandemic did bring the end of two Clintonville holdings. Ownership of SIP Local was transferred to Derive Brewing Company, which now operates within the space at 2808 N. High St. Just a few blocks up the street, Old Skool closed early in the pandemic with initial plans to reopen, but has since become a permanent closure with the business going up for sale.
For more information, visit bendiwoknbar.com.
All photos by Susan Post