An Ox Cafe Brings Thai and Lao Specialties to the Site of a Former Hmong Grocery Store

The new restaurant recently opened.

Earlier this month, An Ox Cafe (7411 W. Hampton Ave.) held its grand opening, a ribbon-cutting that drew Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Commissioner of City Development Lafayette Crump, as well as Hmong Chamber of Commerce executive director Maysee Herr.

Owners Sia Xiong and Johnni Sihavong have spent the last three-plus years working to turn this former Hmong grocery store (Rhino Foods) into a restaurant serving the dishes of Laos and Thailand. Both owners were born in Laos. Johnni is Lao and his wife, Sia, is Hmong. Some of their relatives are Thai. The family combines these vibrant cuisines in a space that features three bars and several TVs so diners can settle in for a comfortable evening, says Johnni. 

The menu is still in evolution, and currently ranges from starters ($4.99-$11.99), salads ($11.99-$15.99) and soups ($6-$15.99) to curries ($14.99-$15.99), noodles ($14.99) and entrees ($12.99-$24.99). They are making crispy roast pork and Lao sausage in-house. The menu lists a version of papaya salad with tomatoes seasoned with chiles and lime juice. Johnni says they have three versions of that salad – a sweeter Thai, a saltier Lao and a Hmong rendition that features tamarind.


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Menu items also include larb (a meat salad with fresh lime juice, red onions and fresh mint); a version of pho made with beef, meatballs and tendon; panang curry; pad thai; drunken noodles; the aforementioned crispy roast pork with steamed rice and house spicy sauce; chicken fried rice; volcano chicken; crispy duck; and Lao pork sausage with steamed rice and house spicy sauce.

Johnni says the restaurant name was inspired by the Chinese zodiac Year of the Ox. “We were both born in 1973, in the Year of the Ox, and we’re both hardworking and patient people,” he says.

HOURS: Wed-Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.



Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.