Shorewood - For more than a year, Shorewood residents have likely walked by the former Runaway Meatball restaurant at 3592 N. Oakland Ave. and wondered when a new restaurant would open in the space.
Those questions were answered on Sunday, Oct. 2, when David Wu opened the doors to Crave Cafe, a takeout restaurant that serves a unique variety of burgers, ranging from traditional burgers to the Japanese katsu burger and Korean BBQ burger. Wu grew up in the restaurant business right across the street at East Garden Chinese restaurant, which he inherited from his father Sik Kin Wu several years ago.
David Wu, who grew up in Shorewood and attended Shorewood High School, has changed the East Garden menu to be simpler and more focused on authentic Chinese cuisine. He wanted to make sure East Garden was running smoothly before focusing his attention on Crave Cafe.
Wu first introduced his restaurant to the Shorewood Plan Commission in April 2015, but he said he was too busy with East Garden to rectify the building and zoning violations that were brought up at the time. He has since addressed all of those issues, and has renovated the restaurant space with an open kitchen, modern aesthetic and artwork from fellow SHS alum Rory Pitman. The restaurant space has four tables and plans to offer Wi-Fi access for dine-in customers.
While East Garden is more of a traditional Chinese restaurant, Wu sees Crave Cafe as his chance to experiment with creative flavors and bring his international range of culinary influences to the simple, accessible burger format. His mother is Taiwanese, his wife is from China and his dad is from Hong Kong. He has traveled extensively in Asia, and also has an appreciation for the various fusion cuisines trending on the east and west coasts.
"Through my travels to other states and other countries, I have tasted flavors that I haven't been able to taste here," Wu said. "I'm looking to sharing these flavors with other people, and through burgers, I think it makes it more approachable."
The Crave burger, for example, comes with swiss cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and white truffle aioli for $8. The Korean BBQ burger, at $7, comes with a Korean barbecue glaze, American cheese, spicy mayo, kimchi and cabbage slaw. The Japanese katsu burger, also $7, replaces the beef with panko breaded pork loin, American cheese, garlic aioli, cabbage slaw and katsu sauce. He also serves a soft shell crab BLT and a Portobello mushroom burger.
For sides, customers have a choice of fries and greens. Crave Cafe serves five different types of seasoned fries, including ranch, cheddar, barbecue and Cajun. Greens include market salad, tonkatsu salad, grilled chicken salad and grilled mushroom salad.
While Crave Cafe opened its doors on Oct. 2, it is still taking feedback from friends and neighbors. Wu plans to hold a grand opening in about a month. Crave Cafe is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Patio seating will be available in the summer months.