A successful opening for Copper Wok

Jon Blau (aka JB, back row, second from right) surrounded by the staff that helped him open Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The long awaited Copper Wok restaurant on Main Street in Vineyard Haven celebrated their opening this past weekend. “We wanted to do multiple parties to reduce the number of people so it wasn’t chaotic,” said owner JB Blau. “We’ve had multiple opening parties before with too many people. It’s not that comfortable, you can’t really see the place, you can’t get to the bar, and you can’t feel comfortable in the space at all.” So this time he did it a little differently.

The four parties sold out quickly, so they added three more, with all of the proceeds from the ticket sales going to the Boys and Girls Club. “We wanted people to have room to walk around, experience things, look at the room, and not be fighting everyone for food,” said Mr. Blau. Guests enjoyed a selection of appetizers ranging from fried rice and street noodles to boneless spare ribs and dumplings.

Mr. Blau is the man behind Sharky’s in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown as well as Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company in Oak Bluffs. So how did Copper Wok come to fruition? “Chef Alex Nagi and I have always loved Asian food, we always wanted to do it,” said Mr. Blau. “He is a business partner in this venture, as well as at the Chowder Company. We walked in here and sat down and immediately thought that this is an Asian Restaurant.” They really liked the idea of people getting on or off the boat being able to grab Chinese food. “Vineyard Haven just seemed right for something a little different,” he continued. “It gives our guests the opportunity to try something different, to still get their points on their VIP cards and the whole network but not to be repetitive at all.”

Executive chef Alex Nagi and team members with cooking experience ranging from the Philippines to Chinatown in Boston will be putting out Pan Asian cuisine, creating dishes from India and Thailand to China and Japan. The menu will focus on “Chinese food that you are accustomed to from Chinese restaurants with a Chowder Company chef perspective. It will be the highest quality, while not making the price prohibitive,” said Mr. Blau.

The Zen-like space features a 20-person sushi bar, banquettes and a 22 seat, counter-height community table where guests may mingle with their neighbors. There is also a patio, screened during the summer, and usable during the winter with the help of plexiglass and heaters.

Most of the dishes are conducive to sharing and will be served family style. Menu items will include a hybrid of Kung Pao and Szechuan chicken aptly named Szech-pao chicken, as well as standard items that you would expect such as crab Rangoon and spring rolls, all handmade on the premises. “There is a tendency in restaurants to have things that are premade or prepackaged,” said Mr. Blau. “We are going to try to do as much as we can do in house. It’s a very prep heavy concept where we will be working with a lot of fresh ingredients and handmade things.”

Don’t expect an eight to ten page menu, rather imagine the top twenty Asian inspired dishes that you would want to eat. “As we get our legs under us, then we’ll roll out more entrée style dishes, more like with Chowder Company edge,” said Mr. Blau. They hope to be featuring entrees with tuna and lobster during the summer, with more dishes coming off of the grill and sauté stations.

Sake will be the main attraction behind the bar, accompanied by fresh fruit and fresh juices. Expect Sake sangria with lemongrass, ginger and lime and a Sake blueberry cosmo. “This will be the first drink in Vineyard Haven served in a martini glass, but it’s wine – Sake is a rice wine,” said Mr. Blau. Copper Wok will feature ten different types of Sake, eight beers on tap, a a twelve bottle beer list with six Asian beers and a tea program with traditional teas. Mr. Blau hopes that trying Sake will be an educational experience at Copper Wok, similar to tequilas at Sharky’s and whisky at Chowder Company, but he emphasizes that they can only serve beer and wine, and that food is required to order a drink.

Be on the lookout for custom fortune cookies in the future, stuffed with Island fortunes, sayings and mantras. “We recently hooked up with an amazing pastry chef,” said Mr. Blau. They hope to incorporate desserts focusing on flavors of lychee and green tea and maybe an oversized fortune cookie with a chocolate dipping sauce.

Although they plan for takeout to be a big part of the business, it won’t be offered right away. “We want to focus on the diners in the restaurant before we look at takeout. The last thing we want is for somebody that got to-go food to be disappointed that it took too long and somebody that is sitting down to feel like their dish is taking too long,” said Mr. Blau. “We want to make sure that we have it 100% right and then we’ll roll out each subsequent thing.” Down the road they hope to offer some sort of delivery program as well as serve Dim Sum during the weekends in the winter and seven days a week in the summer.

“We’re just really excited to be in Vineyard Haven; we’ve been in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, this is the next obvious piece of the puzzle.”

Copper Wok is located adjacent to the Mansion House on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. They will be open for dinner starting Wednesday, March 12, seven days a week from 4 pm to 11 pm. Lunch will soon follow on the weekends. For more information, call 508-693-3416.