You may think you are reading a duplicate restaurant review from a few months ago, but wait! Don’t go! Amazingly enough there are actually two Lui Lui Restaurants in the Mid-Ohio Valley that share a unique story, yet take you on a different culinary journey depending on which venue you visit.
This restaurant first opened in 1994 by Chef Lui and Grace, owners of the Lui Lui Restaurant in Vienna. When I spoke to Grace she told that over the years they grew tired of driving between the two restaurants and in 1998 they decided to sell the Athens restaurant, but asked the new owners to keep the name. Since then the Athens Lui Lui has had three owners, with the current owner taking over in 2013. Grace and Chef Lui now have a wonderful relationship with the current owners and work closely with and mentor them now.
Lui Lui Athens is a favorite of ours to go to when in Athens, either as a refreshing treat after hitting up the Athens Farmers Market and a hike on Saturday morning for lunch or for dinner and a movie on the weekend. The influence is Eastern and Western, with lots of elevated Asian fusion dishes on the menu among other choices. You’ll find dishes options that range from salads to vegetarian, and seafood to beef and lamb, as well as gluten free on the menu. The lunch portions are reasonable and range from about $7-12, with dinner entrees averaging $12-$19.
My favorite menu item is the wild caught crab cakes with panko breading served with a chili aioli dipping sauce, seasonal vegetables and jasmine rice. I’m usually not one for spicy food and I think the chili aioli has a little kick to it, which I love with the crisp breaded crab cake. It’s a perfect balance of flavor. Dan’s go to is General Tso’s Chicken: 13 pieces of dark meat, fried to a golden crisp and tossed in the sweet and slightly spicy General Tso’s sauce with green peppers and onions and jasmine rice. If we lived closer to Lui Lui’s I have no doubt that Dan would eat this dish everyday if he could.
If you are a sushi lover, you’re in luck! Every Tuesday evening starting at 4:30 p.m. Lui Lui Athens offers fresh, made to order sushi. The list is extensive, so whether you are looking to try sushi for the first time or looking for somewhere local to get your sushi fix, this might be your new go-to place.
Be sure to try the specialty brick over pizzas, available seasonally September through May. With unique options like Bacon Mango (local bacon, mango, red onion, scallions, tomato sauce, mozzarella) and Thai Chicken Pizza (chicken, broccoli, carrot, onions, mozzarella, Thai peanut sauce, crushed peanuts) to the traditional Margherita Pizza (Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil) you can’t go wrong.
Lui Lui Restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. The restaurant is located at 8 Station St., Athens, OH.