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$7 for $14 Worth of Pan-Asian Food
The menu includes Asian tacos such as the teriyaki chicken ($2.95) and the panko-crusted crispy shrimp served with cucumber wasabi sauce ($3.45). Coconut curry douses morsels of tempura chicken and baby spinach in the Tin Drum curry entree ($7.49), and rice noodles float amid the Vietnamese beef soup's basil and bean sprouts ($7.99). Patrons can substitute beef or shrimp into their stir-fry and other entrees for $1.99. A gluten-free menu is also available.
Tin Drum Asia Café
At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.