Cheers to 20 good years
Many different cultures and flavours contributed to the creation of Porirua’s Japanese Thai Restaurant 20 years ago.
Since it opened in 1993, restaurant owners Edith and Too Ng have seen many businesses come and go beside their Hartham Place location.
But curiosity and good food keep the restaurant’s customers returning.
Mrs Ng said she was often asked why the restaurant served both Japanese and Thai cuisine.
‘‘We wanted something different,’’ she said. ‘‘Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian use similar ingredients, so it is not hard to mix them.
‘‘Thai is hot and they have more of the sweet kind of thing. Japanese has sauce that is sweet as well. The teriyaki sauce they have is sweet, so it goes well with the Thai food.’’
The most popular dishes are the Thai curries and chicken and cashew stir fry and the Japanese sushimi and teriyaki chicken dishes.
Before opening the restaurant, Mrs Ng and her husband worked in a mixed cuisine restaurant in Wellington, with the Japanese Thai’s original chef, she said.
The Wellington- based Orient Express restaurant served Italian, Japanese, Thai and New Zealand dishes.
Mr Ng and Orient Express accountant Patrick Koh opened the Sushi Thai restaurant in Hartham Place in 1993, before the Ngs bought out his share in 1995 and changed the name.
The Ngs expanded their business by opening the JTA Cuisine and Cake Shop in Mungavin Ave in 2010, but sold the business to Mrs Ng’s sister two years later. That business has since closed.
Mrs Ng is Filipino and her husband Chinese.
They have never been to Japan or Thailand, but learnt all they needed from their former Thai chef, who cooked a mixture of cuisines at the Orient Express.
When the chef moved back to Thailand in 1999, Mr Ng took over as head chef.
Mrs Ng completed a bachelor of science and education in the Philippines before moving to New Zealand in 1989.
She has since completed an international cooking course, and a bar and restaurant course to learn the art of cocktail making.
The pair have lived in Porirua since 1994 and have three daughters.
She said a lot had changed during their time in Porirua, including the mall’s extension and the addition of the Mega Centre, New World, Readings Cinema and the carpark in Hartham Place.
Mrs Ng has enjoyed getting to know the restaurant’s regular customers over the years.
‘‘I always want to remember all the customers who come in,’’ she said.
‘‘ Sometimes I don’t remember their names, but I remember them through faces.’’
The couple are planning to sell the business providing a prospective new owner agrees to keep the Japanese Thai name.
‘‘If someone is interested, we will sell the business,’’ Mrs Ng said.
‘‘I think we need some time off.’’