Silantra offers a fresh take on the Asian street kitchen
The idea for Silantra came a decade ago, when Cindy and Sam Guo were students at Penn State University.
“There was a Panda Express and a Chipotle there," Cindy Guo said. "Wouldn’t it be great if there was an Asian version of Chipotle where you see the ingredients go into your food?”
But that idea got put on the back burner as the couple pursued separate careers in the corporate world, a path that led them to California, Chicago and, ultimately, back to central Pennsylvania.
Sam grew up in Lancaster, so the pair decided to try their idea there first.
Silantra Asian Street Kitchen was born.
Six years later, in July, the fast-casual restaurant expanded to a second location in the West Manchester Town Center.
“It’s gone really well, so we thought it was time to expand and go into an untapped market, which happened to be York," Cindy Guo said.
They were a little nervous going into a new market, but Sam Guo said everything has been great so far.
"It's been great," he said. "I think us being in Lancaster and how close it was to York, we had a lot of customers that used to live in York and work in Lancaster and vice versa. There is a lot of familiar faces. The word of mouth from a loyal fanbase helped us start off at a really good footing. It has gone better than we had hoped for."
When they first opened in Lancaster, Cindy Guo said it took a while to introduce their unique mix of flavors — bowls and wraps inspired by the dishes served up by street kitchens in many Asian countries — to their customers.
“It’s now a local favorite,” she said. “It’s been going really well for the last six years and we thought let’s try this again. Let’s do it in York. It’s been really great. There hasn’t been a rough bump here at this location. I am loving York so far.”
Another reason the chose York was because it hadn't been oversaturated with chain restaurants.
“We didn’t know if people would welcome us and it’s just been incredible so far," she said. "I think it’s because we offer something completely different and something that’s really healthy and fresh. And there’s not a lot of things like that in the area.”
Silantra offers Asian food and Asian inspired recipes, which Cindy Guo says isn’t prominently offered in York.
“A lot of people call us Asian Chipotle,” she said. “Customers can come in and choose a bowl or something we call a bing, which is something my husband created in our own kitchen.”
Bings are scallion pancakes are made in-house, fresh, from scratch each day. They are made from wheat and bean flour and used to make wraps.
Customers can choose the base which includes two different types of rice or a salad. They get a choice of their protein and unlimited vegetables and topping options along with homemade sauces to top it off.
They also offer homemade tea drinks.
Cindy Guo said they looked at traditional Chinese recipes and most were filled with oil and MSG. She said 90 percent of the menu is gluten free and the restaurant offers many vegan options.
“So, we broke down traditional Chinese recipes and we just revamped it,” she said.
Silantra Asian Street Kitchen, located at 310 Town Center Dr., York, is open Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. In September, Silantra will start operating seven days per week. And they plan to begin serving craft beer later in the fall.
— Reach Anthony Maenza at firstname.lastname@example.org or @atmaenza on Twitter.