Skip to main content

Family brings new Asian Diner to Owatonna

Asian Diner, Owatonna, new restaurant, 2024
Jianfang Yang opened Asian Diner on Bridge Street in mid-January with her husband, Ming Li. They moved back to Minnesota after operating a restaurant in South Carolina for five years. Staff photo by Joni Hubred
Joni Hubred, News Editor
“I wanted to come to Owatonna. All my family is here.”
-Jianfang Yang, Asian Diner Owner

The demise of one Owatonna restaurant in a strip mall on Bridge Street has made way for the launch of another.

Asian Diner, which serves up both Chinese and Thai food, opened in mid-January. Jianfang Yang, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Ming Li, said she learned about the vacant space from her sister, who owns Red & Green Burrito just two doors down.

At the time, Yang said, she was working in a restaurant with her cousin in South Carolina. When her sister called asking if she wanted to come back north, she said, “Of course!”. It took a little time to sell the business and their home, but she said the landlord was willing to wait.

“I wanted to come to Owatonna,” Yang said. “All my family is here.”

In fact, the move was kind of a homecoming for the family. They lived in Minnesota for 10 years before spending five in the south.

“My husband like the cold,” Yang said. “My kids like the snow, they never complain.”

After just a little over a month in business, Asian Diner has seen steady growth, fueled in part by some recommendations and shares on social media. The restaurant offers take out and dine-in options, and Yang said they decided on consistent hours–11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, to make it easy for customers to remember when they’re open.

The large menu includes appetizers like dumplings and wontons; hot & sour, egg drop, and wonton soups; fried rice and lo mein dishes; as well as specialty chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegetable dishes.

On the Thai side, Asian Diner offers Pad Thai, Pad See-ew, Pad Kee Mao, and Red Curry, all with chicken, beef, shrimp, or vegetables and tofu options.

Yang said crowd favorites so far have been cream cheese wontons and fried dumplings, Thai fried rice– “it tastes a little bit sweet,” Pad Thai, and General Tso’s chicken, and sesame chicken.

While there are similarities between the former tenant and the Asian Diner, Yang said she hopes customers will recognize the new ownership and the new menu. So far, she said, people have welcomed them to the community with open arms.

“I hope they will give us a chance to serve them and support our small business,” she said.


New Owatonna Restaurant

Asian Diner

641 W. Bridge St. #104B, Owatonna

Open Monday-Saturday-11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

Closed Sunday


Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates