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Bringing Asian Culture
to the Kitchen
with Truly Asian

story and photos by Cody Moore

After closing his restaurant due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturns that came with it, Truly Asian Restaurant owner Dennis Wijaya introduced a new way for his loyal customer base to enjoy authentic, homemade Asian cuisine in the comfort of their own homes.

Wijaya, who is originally from Indonesia, moved to Jonesboro in 2002 where he attended Arkansas State University and earned a master’s degree in business administration and a specialist degree in education.

After graduating from A-State, Wijaya went on to open his own Jonesboro business, Truly Asian Restaurant, where he served as both the owner and the head chef. In March of this year, after being in business for almost 10 years, Wijaya announced that his restaurant would be closing its doors in April due to struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Though Truly Asian closed its storefront, Wijaya is continuing to serve customers. He introduced Truly Asian’s at-home personal chef service in May, allowing him to continue to provide his beloved Asian cuisine to his dedicated customer base.

“I decided to introduce the personal chef service because this allows me the opportunity to personally meet with my customers and interact with them while cooking fresh, healthy and delicious Asian food in the comfort of their homes,” said Wijaya.

Not only does Wijaya cook delicious, Asian-inspired meals in-house, he will also pick up all of the ingredients that are required for the menu items that are chosen prior to arriving at the customer’s home, if they prefer.

“After scheduling the appointment and discussing the customer’s favorite dishes, I ask the customers whether they would like to provide the ingredients or if they prefer to have me purchase the ingredients for them, and they can reimburse me the costs for the groceries,” said Wijaya.

If customers choose to take advantage of the personal chef experience, it is required that they have access to a stovetop and oven. If customers choose a meal that requires a grill, they must have access to that, as well. Wijaya provides all cooking equipment that is required for cooking the chosen menu items, including pots and pans.

The Truly Asian personal chef menu includes an array of original fan-favorite menu items that were served in-store, including appetizers, fried rice choices, noodle choices and zero calorie noodle choices. Hibachi and sushi options are also available by request.
“The menu items that have been favorites among the customers are the potsticker and mushroom soup for the appetizer, bacon and garlic fried rice, hibachi chicken, beef and shrimp, and the chicken lettuce wrap,” said Wijaya.

Other popular menu items include the Mongolian beef, cooked with beef and vegetables in an authentic Mongolian sauce; the Pad Thai Zero, a vegan and gluten-free option that is cooked with chicken, egg and fresh vegetables in a savory Pad Thai sauce; and homemade sweet Asian pancakes served warm with a side of ice cream.

If customers have specific dietary guidelines they must follow, Wijaya can happily abide and offer a meal that can be gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium, low-calorie, vegan or vegetarian.

Since Wijaya usually cooks enough for six to 12 servings of each preferred menu item, the personal chef experience is perfect for inviting friends and family over to enjoy the meal, too. During the personal chef service, Wijaya even teaches attendees how to make popular Asian condiments such as the famous yum yum sauce, allowing guests to be as involved with the process as possible.

“The most rewarding part of being able to cook in the customers’ homes is getting to know the customers and their families better, as I am praying for an opportunity to share God’s word, encourage them and pray with them while preparing and cooking their favorite foods,” said Wijaya.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jonesboro community has continued to support Truly Asian and its personal chef service. Wijaya has plans to continue the personal chef service as long as customers continue to take advantage of the at-home culinary experience.

“God has truly blessed us with wonderful customers who have supported us all of these years, especially during the pandemic,” said Wijaya. “We hope and pray that the Lord will use us through this new service to be a blessing to many people.”

To book Truly Asian’s personal chef service or for any questions regarding the service, call Dennis Wijaya at (870) 919-9694. To keep up with all announcements and updates or to view the personal chef menu and see pricing, find Truly Asian Restaurant on Facebook.