Hot dog bun ice cream – The name itself is odd enough and the idea even more so, but with a descriptive menu and a matching picture, people get a better impression of what they are about to dig into:
A tropical ice cream flavor of coconut, mango and taro in a hot dog bun topped with sweet rice, granola and milk.
“Some people think its too weird to try,” said Pak Williams, owner of Pak's Green Corner. “But once they do, they usually like it."
Hidden among several bars and little, greasy burger joints, Pak’s Green Corner is a needle in a haystack when it comes to fresh, homemade and unique food options.
When customers first enter the building, located at 4131 Grand Ave, they may be skeptical of its small scale and simple interior. Upon entering, they will be warmly greeted by Pak, a Thai woman who can’t help but smile and make sure every customer receives great service.
Williams first came to the United States in 2004, searching for better job opportunities. While living in New Jersey, she took a trip to Duluth with friends and instantly fell in love with Lake Superior.
Shortly after her visit, Williams made the choice to make Duluth her permanent home and found herself a job as a cook in a restaurant downtown.
After meeting her husband, Dan Williams, a Duluth native, the couple would host Sunday dinners together. At these dinners, family and friends would come over, and the couple would cook an unusually delicious meal for everyone.
Williams soon realized she had a strong passion for making unique food and proceeded to start her own restaurant.
“It was a price we could support, an economical opportunity as well as a good location,” Dan said.
According to Pak, her husband made her dream become a reality. Even though working at the Green Corner is too nerve-racking for him, he still supports her little café by maintaining the building, she said.
The restaurant focuses on providing fresh and delicious options with a twist.
One of Pak’s signature talents is her ability to take traditional dishes and create a more diverse one. This idea is known as food fusion. A sign outside of the restaurant rightfully states "A World Café," since her dishes express the tastes of many different cultures.
The menu at Pak's Green Corner displays vibrant images of everything from taco cupcakes to Canadian style French fries, from hot and sour coconut soup to Thai style dumplings.
The restaurant's most popular dish is the curry puff, a pastry stuffed with chicken, curry, potato and onion that's served with a tangy cucumber sauce.
“Pak’s Green Corner is a place for everyone but really a joy for those with an adventurous palate,” said Jeff Peabody, a friend of the couple and a frequent customer.
Most of the food on the menu is homemade, from the spring rolls to the sauces. Pak and her cook, Hieng Wilaiphan, do it all. They even try to buy all their ingredients locally, so that they can help support the community. With access to fresh produce, they are even able to provide healthy options for vegans.
“I want the restaurant to be a place that a group of people can come have whatever they enjoy,” Pak said.
Every week there is a new special that Pak comes up with, and usually it’s just something that she is craving to eat at the time. After the dish is made, a picture is taken and posted on Facebook for all her followers to see.
According to Pak, her business is more then just a restaurant. It is her passion and has become her second family. She has bonded with many of her customers, sharing recipes with them and accommodating their every need, she said.
“I’m lucky to do my passion,” Pak said. “I do whatever is in my soul.”
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