Sophie Bolich

Xankia Unveils New Look, Menu

Vietnamese-American restaurant in Downtown hosted grand reopening last weekend.

By - Aug 7th, 2023 05:21 pm
Site of Xankia, 222 W. Wells St. Photo taken Aug. 7, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Xankia, 222 W. Wells St. Photo taken Aug. 7, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

After closing for most of the spring and early summer for renovations, Xankia has officially returned to service, supplying downtown Milwaukee with spring rolls, pho and its crowd-favorite banh mi sandwiches.

Vang Thao and Mai Nhia Chang, owners of the Vietnamese-American restaurant, marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony over the weekend. The pair were joined by family members, restaurant staff and city leaders including Mayor Cavalier Johnson and City Development Commissioner Lafayette Crump.

“Can attest — the food is delicious and the owners are wonderful people, indicative of the diversity and talent we have in the City of Milwaukee,” Crump wrote in an online post after the ceremony.

The restaurant, which first opened in 2015 under the ownership of Xa Xiong, temporarily closed at the end of March for renovations and began its soft reopening in early June, followed by a grand opening on Aug. 4.

Behind the restaurant’s unassuming storefront at 222 W. Wells St., guests will find a transformed interior, nearly unrecognizable from that of early 2023. A fresh coat of sky blue paint, tambour bar wall and wicker accents — including a cascade of woven baskets hung gallery-style — lend a cheerful, airy feel to the dining room, while bar seating provides a welcoming environment for those looking to linger. Additional updates include new flooring and a coat of sleek, black paint to disguise the drop ceiling.

“I feel like this is us,” Chang said of the new look. “When we took ownership of the space in 2018, we kind of just took over and started running it. But it was always a goal for us to remodel, and we finally did it after five years.”

Since reopening in June, Chang said the restaurant’s sales have increased threefold, which in turn has allowed her to hire additional staff members. Along with Xankia’s expanding hours, she said, the team is expected to grow even more in the coming months. “I’m very excited to see where this is going to lead us,” she said.

But the biggest reward, Chang said, is seeing the satisfaction of her customers.

Back in June, amid the hubbub of a busy first day back in service, Chang took a moment to step out of the kitchen and into the dining room. There, she saw one of her regular customers sitting at the bar and enjoying his meal.

“It just made me so happy,” she said. “Like, this is what we needed. Customers sitting at the bar counter having drinks and eating their lunch. It’s just the best feeling ever.”

In tandem with its revamped interior, Xankia expanded its menu with dishes including fried rice and crab rangoon. The newcomers join old standbys — fresh spring rolls, fried egg rolls, aromatic pho and noodle-based entrees.

There’s also several varieties of banh mi — said to be among the best in the city. The warm sandwich comes packed with guests’ choice of grilled pork, roast chicken, steak, sardines, tofu or rice noodles, plus sliced cucumber, mayonnaise, (optional) jalapeno, cilantro and plenty of mild-yet-zingy pickled daikon radish and carrot.

To drink, Xankia offers boba tea, thai tea and Vietnamese iced coffee that’s just as sweet as it is strong. The restaurant’s newly-installed bar also serves a range of alcoholic beverages including beer, soju and seltzers, with happy hour discounts from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

A current lineup of summery cocktails includes the Thai Mojito, crafted with lemongrass simple syrup, Thai basil, lime, club soda, sugar and white rum; Asian Summer with Grey Goose L’Orange, Disaronno Originale Liqueur, simple syrup, lime, sesame oil, ground ginger, sugar and star anise; and the Lychee Mai Thai with dark rum, white rum, Disaronno Originale Liqueur, Cointreau, lychee, lime, simple syrup and mint.

Xankia is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

This article was updated after publishing to include additional comments from Mai Nhia Chang.


If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Categories: Food & Drink

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us