What's good here? Antai

Special to The StateSeptember 21, 2011 

What’s good here?

Antai translates to “in good health.” The owners, John and Rebekah Huang, point out that everything is good because everything is fresh and healthy. “At Antai, we believe whole health results from a balance of nourishing foods,” John says. The extensive menu of classic Asian dishes includes garlic chicken or shrimp, moo shu pork or chicken and unique variations: Cucumber Chicken, which is lightly sautéed with slices of peeled cucumber in Szechuan sauce, or Penang Beef with Curry, which is served in a spicy coconut curry sauce. Appetizers, soups, sides and salads include a mixed nut salad featuring almonds, cashews and peanuts over lettuce. Antai has steamed grilled and vegetarian entrees, as well as the opportunity to personally create a dish. There are also rice and noodle dishes. Other house specialties include Seafood Hot Pot, with shrimp, scallops and a mix of vegetables in a light broth, and Brown Ginger Flounder, with crispy flounder fillets served over steamed vegetables in a brown ginger sauce. John says his restaurant serves only white meat chicken breasts, quality flank steaks and the freshest seafood.

What else?

An extensive sushi bar provides sushi entrees, served with a selection of soups, appetizers or a la carte. There are classic rolls, such as spider (fried crab wrapped in avocado, lettuce and tobiko drizzled with spicy mayonnaise and eel sauce) and chef’s specials such as the Lexington roll (salmon tempura with spicy kani, avocado and tobiko on top).

How did Antai get its start?

John Huang is a first-generation Chinese and second-generation Christian. He was born in the Fujian province in southern China, located right across from Taiwan. At the age of 12, John, along with his brothers, began working in their parents’ produce business. In order to freely practice his Christian faith, John came to the United States during in 1992. He spent time becoming educated on the details of restaurant management and opened Antai three years ago so he could present the best of Asian cooking. He is assisted not only by his wife but also by two brothers and a brother-in-law.

What is the ambiance?

The entryway greets customers with walls adorned with local paintings and photography, which are for sale. Inside is a floor-to-ceiling beverage bar as well as an extensive sushi bar. Intimate tables are separated by bamboo screens, while sheer curtains over windows provide a warm glow to the interior setting. Customers can sit at either a table or a booth.

Who are the customers?

Customers from Lexington and Columbia enjoy Antai. It is both a date-night destination place and a family-friendly restaurant. Instead of the average chicken fingers and hamburgers as selections for children, Antai’s children’s menu includes healthier choices for lunch and dinner, such as chicken, salmon, shrimp and pork. Each entrée comes with rice and a choice of steamed broccoli, green peas, carrots or string beans.

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