Cheers to 20 good years

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TALIA CARLISLE

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.’’

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