Richard Lee, an ethnic Chinese who was born and raised in India, has teamed up with veteran restaurateur Kevin Zhu to open Rasa in the former Ming Garden space in Chapel Hill North Shopping Center. The partners met when Lee worked for Zhu at Red Lotus.
Before coming to America, Lee grew up in the thriving Chinese immigrant community of Kolkata. He then moved to Mumbai, where he worked in a restaurant specializing in the Indian-Chinese cuisine that is to that country what Chinese-American is here.
The dishes - which are frequently but not always spicy - will be new to many in the Triangle, as they have only been seen on a handful of menus in the area (Inchin’s Bamboo Garden in Morrisville comes to mind; also Pao Lim in Durham and Bombay Beijing in Cary, both now closed).
Known variously as Indian-Chinese, Indo-Chinese, or - as it’s billed at Rasa, Indi-Chinese, - the cuisine is a fusion of the flavors and techniques of the two cultures. Traditional Chinese dishes adapted to accommodate readily available Indian ingredients are translated into creations such as chili chicken, curry fried rice, Hakka noodles and Manchurian chicken. You’ll find these among the nearly two dozen Indi-Chinese options at Rasa, along with an assortment of straightforward Indian and vegetarian dishes, most of which come with your choice of white, brown or fried rice.