China meets Japan meets the Lowcountry might sound like an odd mash-up, but in the kitchen of Chef Shuai Wang, it’s a full-blown triple threat of taste sensations. The Beijing-born Wang masterfully strikes a balance between these cuisines to create dishes that are both surprising and familiar. The culinary world is taking notice of what issues from his Charleston-based food truck, Short Grain, which he operates with wife, Corrie. In 2017, Wang was named a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, a signal to foodies everywhere that this South Carolina chef is one to watch.
Heritage, which is highly prized in both Asian and Lowcountry cooking, is a major influence when it comes to Wang’s approach in the kitchen. His roots are Chinese, but his culinary training is Japanese. When that training teams up with the bounty of the Lowcountry—locally grown vegetables, fresh South Carolina seafood, heirloom grains, and locally raised pork and poultry—the results are inspired, flavorful, fresh and decidedly “untraditional” Japanese.
Born in China and raised in New York, Wang studied at the Art Institute of New York City. He worked in restaurants throughout Manhattan, sharpening his cooking chops in some of the city’s busiest kitchens. Drawn to Charleston by its rich food culture and close culinary community, the Wangs established Short Grain in 2015. It has been popping up across town ever since, delighting diners and food critics who can’t get enough of his noodle bowls, ramen, dumplings and other global dishes in which he routinely showcases locally sourced ingredients. By 2016, praise for Short Grain began pouring in, with the operation being named by Bon Appetit as one of America’s 50 Best New Restaurants. Wang was also named an Eater “Young Gun” that same year. Plans are underway for a permanent brick-and-mortar operation, called Jackrabbit Filly, to open in Park Circle in 2019.