Ming-Wei Huang pours the crepe batter onto the round cooking stone, then spreads it thin with a metal tool, his smooth movements are the product of more than six years of practice at his Carbondale restaurant, Blend Tea and Crepe Lounge in Carbondale.
Huang, originally from Taiwan, operated a successful crepe business in Virginia before relocating to Carbondale and opening his restaurant in November 2011. He likes the diversity of the student population, the majority of his clientele, reflected in the name of his business and Huang’s motto and marketing slogan, “Let’s Blend!”
Huang said that he grew up eating the kind of crepes traditionally made in Taiwan. “Very crispy,” he said. “The French crepe is much softer. Mine is between the crisp and the soft.”
He’s proud of his crepes and the number of healthy ingredients he offers as fillings.
“We offer a unique product in Carbondale, more international,” he said. “We use healthy ingredients,” he said. “We don’t use sauces on savory crepes. Our cheese is the sauce.”
Savory crepes feature choices of meat with cheeses, organic spinach, roasted pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. Sweet crepes are coated with Nutella, chocolate, peanut butter, honey or chestnut spread. Fruit crepes are filled with fresh banana and/or strawberry slices. Ice cream — eight varieties — is optional.
Huang’s teas are unique, too. Customers choose from black or green tea, and about 30 flavorings, and have the option of adding tapioca pearls or small Jell-O cubes that Huang says taste like gummy bears. There’s Huang’s Signature Tea — a mixture of Hot Rose and Lavender — Hot Milk Tea, and Ice Coffee Milk Tea, described as “coffee-flavored tea.”
He’s also proud of his restaurant, too. It’s clean and open with lots of tables and chairs, but not so many as to feel crowded, and great light from the large east and west windows. On most days you’ll find the lounge filled with students, quietly working on their laptops or just taking a break from the books with their friends.
“We’re a good place for students to hang out,” Huang said. “We’re a good place for business meetings for breakfast or lunch. Come and try a crepe! Have a tea. Let’s Blend!”
Anyone interested in staying current with Blend’s upcoming promotions and menu additions can find and “friend” the lounge on its Facebook page.