The Cheesecake Factory just opened a new restaurant, but it’s not one of their establishments with a Bible-sized menu of massive portions at reasonable prices. Instead, they’ve launched a fast casual, pan-Asian concept that could be the next chain the restaurant group develops.
Photo courtesy of The Social Monk
Called The Social Monk, the inaugural location just opened for business in Thousand Oaks, California. The restaurant has been in development for two years, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, and comes with some significant culinary firepower. Helming the culinary team is award-winning chef, Mohan Ismail, a Singaporean native that specializes in Southeast Asian fare. His influence can be found all over the menu, which is all about the variety of rice and noodle bowls available.
Apart from some one-off items like an Asian fried chicken sandwich, The Social Monk’s lineup is all about these starches. They’re pretty well priced, with a basic noodle or rice bowl starting at $8.95. Built with base ingredients like turmeric daikon, fried eggs, and a chive relish, you get your choice of meat on top, including chicken satay, short rib, or even shrimp. There’s also more premium options, like a Dan Dan Noodles or Shaking Beef over rice, that you can choose instead.
Overall, the menu and vibe of the place definitely feels like a “Cheesecake Factory of Asian restaurants.” It’s a grouping together of a bunch of different items folks in the US are more familiar with, and sticking them all under one roof. That does kind of make it like a counter-service version of P.F. Chang’s, which has proven to be successful so far.
For now, it seems that just the one location of The Social Monk will be open. We’ll have to see whether it goes the way of Chipotle’s test concepts and falls flat, or can one day flourish into its own successful chain.