The Roanoker - January/February 2017 - 60
Fondue fullness: Cao and Ren's simple menu assures diners fresh, high-quality ingredients with both gorgeous presentation and gourmet tastes.
mate family dining experience. They decided to put their efforts into
Japanese restaurants, owning several over the next many years, some
still in existence today (Sakura and Ichiban).
Eventually, Cao and Ren decided it was time to retire. Cao wanted
to devote more time to painting, both wanted a more relaxed lifestyle.
They sold Ichiban (their restaurant at the time) and tried the retirement
life. After two years, Cao was bored. "Retirement is boring," Cao laughs,
while Ren, sitting beside him, smiles and shakes her head.
It was around this time that the Cao family experienced The Melting
Pot, a chain fondue restaurant. They fell in love. Cao says he started
checking the restaurant's website, hoping one would come to Roanoke.
After two years of waiting, Cao decided he would open one himself.
"The Melting Pot [type] restaurant is my dream," says Cao smiling
60 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
and waxing nostalgic. "It is so neat and cozy. Roanoke needs a restaurant like this."
While Cao and Ren love the The Melting Pot concept, La Petite
Fondue is its own place, reflecting the couple's personal tastes and past
restaurant experiences. To begin, Cao uses a vegetable broth base for
his fondues instead of oil. He also treads lightly when adding red wine
to his House Signature Broth to keep the broth from tasting sour. In
ventilation design, the couple took extra measures to keep heavy fondue
odors from permeating the air. Even the artwork on the walls reflect
Cao's personal tastes as an artist, admirer and collector; each piece acquired over years of worldwide travel.
Compared to larger fondue restaurants, La Petite Fondue's menu is
small. Cao says this is for two reasons. First, it allows them to provide