AAPI-Owned Smoke Queen Barbecue Celebrates its Brick-and-Mortar Debut

Winnie Yee-Lakhani’s Smoke Queen Barbecue celebrated its opening in Garden Grove on March 9, marking a significant shift from its origin as a pandemic experiment.

As the co-owner of Bruxie and a seasoned service franchisee, Winnie used the lockdowns to explore her passion for barbecue, leading to the birth of Smoke Queen Barbecue in 2020.

Smoke Queen Barbecue challenges stereotypes in Orange County’s dining scene and the wider American barbecue community, with Winnie, a petite Asian woman of Malaysian-Chinese descent, excelling in this traditionally male-dominated field.

Image Source: Orange County Register

In collaboration with pitmaster Jared Ruiz and her brother, Kevin Yee, Winnie’s culinary innovation fuses traditional Asian flavors with American smoking techniques. The menu features smoked brisket, pork belly, spare ribs, and chicken seasoned with unique Asian ingredients, like Thai basil, fermented soybean paste, black vinegar, and kaya custard.

Image Source: Orange County Register

The new Smoke Queen Barbecue location in Garden Grove’s Cottage Industries boasts a contemporary design with a charcoal-hued wooden slat exterior and a covered outdoor seating area. Smoke Queen Barbecue currently operates on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from noon until 4 p.m., with plans for expanded hours and days in the near future. 

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