Tan Dang, a Peoria resident, opened Dang Banh Mi & Poke across from Campustown in the second week of March, right as the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced.
“We opened it up on the week of the pandemic, coincidentally, so it has been both exciting and stressful,” Dang said. “I think the most challenging aspect of starting up a business during this time would be finances, but [so far], we have been doing well.”
Now he’s trying to diversify food options for residents of Peoria and Bradley students with the Hawaiian raw fish dish.
Dang left Vietnam when he was 12 years old and got his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and his MBA from Union University Tennessee. He helped out at the neighboring restaurant Thanh Linh, which is owned by a relative. He also met his wife in Peoria, who graduated from Bradley in 2010 and helps Dang with the business.
“We tried poke for the first time during our honeymoon at Hawaii and we loved it so much that we decided to have it on our menu,” Dang said. “Banh Mi is from Vietnam and I noticed that there were not many places here in Peoria you could get it from.”
The menu consists of three main sections: banh mi, poke and boba.
The banh mi section consists of an array of sandwiches that are served on a fresh baguette and come in two sizes: eight and 12 inches. The poke signature and teriyaki bowls are served with miso soup and can be customized to satisfaction.
“The boba is our main focus,” Dang said. “We were really trying to expand choice options and make the recipes professionally.”
The syrups, powder and the boba itself are imported from Taiwan, which is where boba originated in 1980. There are about 40 different flavor choices for boba and 35 smoothie selections.
“I love boba and I don’t think many restaurants here sell legitimate boba, but Dang does,” said Emily Fung, a Bradley senior public health education and health double major. “Dang is a unique Asian restaurant in the Peoria area and is a fix for both food and boba.”
Dang Banh Mi & Poke is currently hiring Bradley students depending on their schedule and availability to work early or late hours.
“I think the best part about working there is the people,” said Cindy Guo, an employee at Dang and junior nursing major at Bradley. “I personally love boba and I would rate Dang’s boba as 10 out of 10 because not only do they taste good but there is a variety to choose from.”
With high stools facing the window, a couple of cozy couches and tables articulately placed for social distancing, the white and blue minimalistic themed boba hub is an easy visit for Bradley students at 1215 W. Main St.
“Our aim was to make it youth-friendly, so all Bradley students are welcome,” Dang said.