Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT DOES GAN SHAN MEAN, WHAT LANGUAGE IS IT IN, AND HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?
Loosely translated, Gan Shan means Sunset Mountain, and it is named in honor of the mountain that Gan Shan Station sits directly below.
The “a” in both gan and shan are pronounced ah, like ah hah! Gahn Shahn.
Naming the restaurant this way is a nod to the concept of Gan Shan as a whole. Our restaurant serves Asian food, adapted from Asian recipes, and using what we refer to as “the Asian pantry.”
Each of these things is true, but it’s equally true that the food is made by Western hands, interpreted through a Western lens, and with local Appalachian-grown ingredients whenever possible.
We recognize that our own cultural influences undoubtedly “change” the character and flavor of the food, and we like it that way. That’s because making, serving, and enjoying food are about relationships.
WHAT KIND OF CUISINE DO YOU SERVE?
We serve Asian food, inspired by East Asian cultures of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China, Japan, and Singapore. Our recipes come primarily from Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook.
When Gan Shan owner Patrick O'Cain was a child, this cookbook was a gift to his parents and became a mainstay of their family cooking ventures and meals.
DO I NEED A RESERVATION?
We don’t accept reservations at either location.
The exception to this is our Chef's table at Gan Shan Station, a unique dining experience that requires 48-hour advance notice.
DIDN’T THIS SPACE USED TO BE A GAS STATION?
Yes, Gan Shan Station is in the building formerly known as the Charlotte Street Gulf. “Steamer” Edmonds, and later his son, Gary, owned and operated the gas station, making it a fixture in north Asheville for close to 70 years.
After Gary’s death in 2010, his family wanted the location to remain both an asset to and a reflection of the local community. With that in mind, they turned down a number of offers from franchise companies in favor of Gan Shan Station. We renovated in 2014, and retained some of the building’s original aesthetic, and incorporated “station” into our name.
ARE YOUR DUMPLINGS HOMEMADE?
Yes! The dumplings – both wrappers and fillings – are made in- house.
We make our dough in huge batches, and our early-morning dumpling team rolls the wrappers out by hand. They fold in our ever-changing fillings, and, by the end, we have hundreds of dumplings.
DO YOU HAVE VEGETARIAN, VEGAN, AND GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS?
Yes, all of the above. Some of our dishes can be altered upon request to become vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. Other dishes are made precisely for those palates.
DOES YOUR FOOD HAVE MSG IN IT?
Monosodium glutamate (or MSG) – in the way it’s generally thought of – is a flavor enhancer that’s added to food. At Gan Shan, we don’t add MSG to our food, because we let our bold, rich, and clean flavors speak for themselves.
That being said, MSG is a naturally occurring amino acid, and so no one can accurately claim to serve food that’s “MSG-free.”
I DON'T LIKE SPICY FOOD, IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN EAT HERE?
Definitely. Our focus at Gan Shan is on flavor, not spice. You can find plenty of things to suit a non-spicy palate, and our knowledgeable waitstaff will happily help steer you in the right direction.
WHY DON'T YOU SERVE HOT SAKE?
Oh, but now we do! Even still, here are some reasons why most of our sakes aren't available hot:
Our sake is high-grade, flavorful, and balanced; each of these virtues would be destroyed by heating, which dulls the sake’s nature.
In other words, we don’t need to warm up our sake to make it drinkable. Just like you wouldn’t use a fine bottle for mulled wine, we don’t heat our sakes.
We serve high-quality, intentionally chosen sakes that complement the flavors in our food, and invite you to ask for direction if you’re curious and/or confused about what to choose. If you want a hot beverage, we have teas specifically selected to blend well with our food.
WHO IS THE EXECUTIVE CHEF, AND WHAT’S HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS KIND OF FOOD?
Asheville native Patrick O'Cain is the chef and owner of Gan Shan Station and Gan Shan West.
Patrick grew up with cooking as a centerpiece of his family’s culture. The O’Cain family enjoyed meals together from Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook, a gift from Patrick’s late uncle.
Cooking in the O’Cain household wasn’t just about eating food; it was about togetherness. Exploring flavors together, working together, and savoring (or occasionally bemoaning) the results together.
A graduate of Asheville High, Patrick earned a Bachelor’s degree at NC State in English and French. After teaching and living abroad, he turned his love of cooking and hosting friends into his profession.
Patrick returned to Asheville and attended the AB-Tech Culinary Program, while working part-time in the kitchen of Asheville’s own Curate. He then relocated to Charleston, SC to accept an internship at the renowned McCrady’s restaurant, where he was later offered a full-time position.
He left McCrady’s to help open Charleston’s Xiao Bao Biscuit, where he served as sous-chef. After a year and a half at Xiao Bao, Patrick returned home to open Gan Shan Station, at the foot of Sunset Mountain.
Mrs. Chiang’s cookbook, now fondly known as The Cookbook, is the cornerstone of Gan Shan’s recipes. Patrick and staff extend the family tradition of sharing the joys of food and community with Gan Shan’s guests.
HOW OFTEN DO YOUR MENUS CHANGE?
Large changes to our Gan Shan Station Menu and our Gan Shan West Menu occur seasonally, as we keep pace both with the natural shifts in local fare and with what people want to eat.
That being said, we continually refine our offerings, and make additions and alterations whenever the inspiration to do so strikes.
HOW ARE YOUR TWO LOCATIONS, GAN SHAN STATION AND GAN SHAN WEST, DIFFERENT?
Gan Shan Station is our flagship restaurant. It is physically larger, quieter, and has more indoor and outdoor seating capacity than Gan Shan West. At Gan Shan Station, we have separate lunch and dinner menus, and begin serving dinner at 4:30 p.m.
Gan Shan West is our outpost. The space is smaller, louder, and noodle-centric. West has the same menu for lunch and dinner, with dinner specials.