“Food is a natural conduit of change, evolution, and innovation. Wishing for a foodstuff to remain static, uncorrupted by outside influence—especially in these United States—is as ludicrous an idea as barring new immigrants from entering the country.” — Gustavo Arellano
Most of the time, the only chance to taste a Hmong egg roll is by being a part of the Hmong culture or knowing someone who is. For many people in the Fox Cities area, however, Eggrolls, Inc. is their first encounter with Hmong culture, and that’s what the owner Blong Yang intends. “The majority of people who have ever eaten a Hmong egg roll just absolutely loves it,” he says. Now in his second year of operating Eggrolls, Inc., Yang has built a second career out of answering one question: “How do you take an item that…is an appetizer and turn it into a full meal to support an entire restaurant?”
He had a specific goal in mind — bring Hmong egg rolls to a non-Hmong audience — and he intended it to be different from other restaurants or stores of its kind. After he independently studied establishments like Chipotle and Panda Express, he settled on his eatery’s format: a simple, Western-style fast-casual restaurant meant to be run by only a few employees.
The environment at Eggrolls, Inc. looks familiar, with a bright, warm, and simple color scheme and a storefront near Wal-Mart. A short menu above the counter features lettuce rolls, spring rolls, soup, and of course, egg rolls made with beef, pork, or chicken. “The idea is to get a quick, healthy bite to eat for a low price,” Yang says, and the store is meant to “get customers in and out quickly” at a convenient location.
Not only does Eggrolls, Inc. have a familiar look, Yang also made some modifications to the egg rolls themselves. “[The question is] what do we do to the Hmong egg roll that would fit into the food trends of today, without sacrificing the traditional ingredients and taste?” First, the egg rolls are baked, not fried. Second, they’re made slightly larger — six ounces, as opposed to the usual two or three. Third, he uses fresh, local ingredients whenever he can, often buying vegetables from local farmers. All of this adds up to a healthy, satisfying and delicious egg roll with either pork, beef, or chicken inside.
Yang is considering opening a second location somewhere else in the Fox Cities. His goals are clear: “Keep it simple, keep it authentic and Hmong, and be conscious of the customers and their price points.” Thanks to enthusiastic customers and widespread word-of-mouth, his approach has been successful.
If you’re on a trip to the Fox River Mall and want to taste a new food in a familiar setting, I’d recommend giving Eggrolls, Inc. a try. The most popular kind of egg roll is pork, which is the traditional meat in a Hmong egg roll. But, whichever one you try, the egg rolls are perfect for either grabbing a quick bite to eat or taking home for dinner. Don’t worry about ordering too many — they’re also perfect for reheating and eating the next day.