Waves Restaurant is hosting a soft opening this coming Tuesday. Formerly Papaya, the Chippewa establishment, under new name and ownership, will concentrate on Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese cuisine. Owner Michael Nguyen is not only priding himself on serving up Pan-Asian cuisine, he’s also banking on modern technology to set him apart from the rest (learn more).
Last evening, Waves teamed up with Yelp, to host a sneak preview for media, Yelp Elite, and others, to sample the cuisine, and test drive the tablet digital menus – the first of its kind in the city of Buffalo.
The ambiance and décor of Waves is hinged on a contemporary and minimalist vibe. Colorful washes of light prevail, as do some intricate lighting schematics that include flatscreens on the back wall (playing videos of salt water fish swimming about), a couple of delicate sculpturesque lighting features, and plenty of fluctuating mood lighting at the bar, and backdrop wall.
The bar arena has been brilliantly opened up to the patio, creating a welcome flow that previously did not exist at Papaya (very problematic). That alone creates a new sense of openness and mobility – very inviting. The improvement to the bar layout creates a better connectivity throughout the entire establishment.
Waves features an all you can eat package, and the ability to order regular main menu items.
As for the tablet digital menus, it will be interesting to see how they play out. The menus are great because they are fun to use. There are beautiful photos of each dish that can be clicked upon to add to an order for the table. The tablet is passed from one diner to the next, until the group order is complete. From there, a member of the wait staff visits the table, looks everything over, and submits the order to the kitchen.
Diners can continue to order throughout the meal. Instead of relying on a large wait staff, Nguyen has beefed up the kitchen staff. In a previous interview, he was quoted as saying that there will be no fewer than ten chefs on the line at any given time.
My only misgiving with the tablet, which was a general concern at the table, is that there is no way for the customer to add spice levels, ingredient alterations, etc. The wait staff must handle that once the order is complete (from what I was told) – I’m not exactly sure how this will happen efficiently. Last evening, we were not provided with information on exactly how that part of the ordering system would be handled. If there is an easy trick to making it possible for the customer to choose cooking criteria as he or she is ordering food, that would be the best way to streamline the process.
Knowing Nguyen’s past success with Phở Lantern on Niagara Street, I’m sure that he will have everything figured out soon enough. The guy is a real stickler for details, and runs an upstanding operation (except for the generic “open” sign in the front window – needs inspiration). That same business acumen will most certainly be in place at Waves.
The place looks great, and feels great. Once the ordering aspect is fine tuned, I’m sure that Nguyen will have another hit on his hands. Waves is a welcome addition to Chippewa – a district that continues to grow up in ways that we had all hoped that it would.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner.