Double grand opening for newest additions to Uptown Commons in North Long Beach

A+spicy+chicken+sandwich+from+Main+Chick+Hot+Chicken+with+coleslaw%2C+pickles+and+a+seasoned+and+breaded+piece+of+chicken+between+two+buns.+Main+Chick+specializes+in+Nashville+style+hot+chicken.

Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune

A spicy chicken sandwich from Main Chick Hot Chicken with coleslaw, pickles and a seasoned and breaded piece of chicken between two buns. Main Chick specializes in Nashville style hot chicken.

Uptown Commons in the North Side of Long Beach drew a large crowd during the simultaneous grand opening of two new restaurants within the outdoor retail center on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Oi Asian Fusion and Main Chick Hot Chicken welcomed customers with free face masks and a chance to win free airpods in a raffle. Families and friends sat in the shaded outdoor seating area enjoying their meals and listening to live music.

While the two establishments share a co-owner, Eric de la Cruz, the cuisine served at both have very different origins, with Oi specializing in Asian fusion style rice bowls, and Main Chick specializing in Nashville hot chicken.

Oi Asian Fusion first began in 2013 in the Reseda area of the San Fernando Valley.

“Oi is a rice bowl concept and it’s basically very Filipino centric,” de la Cruz, Oi Asian Fusion chef and co-owner, said “but we infuse Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese style cooking.”

Besides rice bowls, Oi also serves a variety of egg rolls, buns and pork belly jicama tacos. The meat in their pork buns is tender and well seasoned, reminiscent of carnitas, and is served with fresh cucumber and sliced green onion in a soft white bao bun with spicy sauce.

A pork bun from Oi Asian Fusion with tender pork, sliced green onions, cucumber and spicy sauce inside a bao bun.

De la Cruz was not always interested in cooking, but began exploring his talents when he found himself unhappy with his day job.

“I was working for Bank of America,” de la Cruz told the Signal Tribune, “the mortgage department for Bank of America, and I just didn’t like it anymore and so I started cooking. And then that’s what got it started. I started cooking in the backyard doing underground dinner events, but yeah, it grew from there.”

Eric de la Cruz (left) chef and co-owner of Oi Asian Fusion and Main Chick Hot Chicken wearing one of the free masks distributed to customers during the grand opening of both restaurants Saturday, Sept. 5. (Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune)

Main Chick co-owners Kevin Popok and Calvin Skarlat were also present at the grand opening Saturday, Sept. 5.

“We specialize in Nashville style chicken,” Skarlat said, “different types of spice levels, our chicken is always supposed to be very crispy. We just want to bring that Nashville style to California so people have a good taste of that type of chicken.”

Main Chick has five levels of heat and spice for customers to choose from: naked, mild, medium, spicy and supreme.

Main Chick has two other locations in Pasadena and West Los Angeles, while Oi Asian Fusion has six locations in Canoga Park, Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Chino, Carmel Mountain and Barrio Logan. The grand opening represented the first-time arrival of both brands in Long Beach.

Combo #1 from Main Chick Hot Chicken comes with a chicken sandwich, a large chicken strip, Main Chick sauce and seasoned crinkle cut fries for $13. Main Chick offers five levels of spice for its chicken. (Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune)

“The landlord actually told us about this project that they’re working [on] with the city,” de la Cruz said, “and it’s gonna be something unique for the whole community here, and so we took that opportunity. And it just so happened that it worked out with the pandemic going on right now having the outdoor patio is such a blessing for us, so grateful we’re to be here. And then the community has been very, very helpful. They’re actually coming out really supportive.”

Oi Asian Fusion is located at: 6600 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805 & Main Chick Hot Chicken is located at: 6614 Atlantic Avenue Long Beach, CA 90805