Daeng takes a leap of faith in new restau­rant

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

Daeng Neuang-keo is one busy woman.

The owner of Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen is set­ting up shop at the old Duck Creek restau­rant site in Pau­ata­hanui.

The of­fi­cial open­ing was Sun­day, with a ton of land­scap­ing, var­nish­ing, paint­ing and an en­tire kitchen fitout com­pleted last week.

‘‘It’s so busy, but in a good way,’’ Neuang-keo said.

‘‘This year has been a crazy one for me and ev­ery­one as­so­ci­ated with the busi­ness, and we’re not done yet.’’

Neuang-keo, who lives in Whitby, said two years ago she had a vi­sion of bring­ing au­then­tic Thai food to the com­mu­nity.

She be­gan sell­ing from her home, then moved to a food truck.

At­tend­ing fes­ti­vals, night mar­kets and other events had proved lu­cra­tive - but set­ting up in Brown’s Bay, Whitby, on Thurs­day, Fri­day and Sat­ur­day evenings was where Neuang-keo gar­nered a huge lo­cal fol­low­ing.

‘‘I some­times have peo­ple wait­ing an hour for my food, sit­ting in their cars. It’s in­cred­i­ble and I’ve al­ways been very re­ally happy with the com­mu­nity sup­port for what I’ve been do­ing.’’

Neuang-keo also made many new friends by giv­ing free food to res­i­dents and emer­gency staff dur­ing the re­cent flood­ing.

Leas­ing the for­mer Duck Creek site had taken a real leap of faith, she said, but she had been over­whelmed with help from Porirua res­i­dents in get­ting the build­ing ready and school chil­dren planted trees around the prop­erty.

The busi­ness would run as a cafe from 8am till 2pm, sell­ing cakes and other cafe sta­ples, and then from 5pm till 10pm as the full Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing take­aways.

‘‘I know it’s a risk, go­ing from the truck to set­ting up a restau­rant, but I have to give it a go and work to­wards some­thing big­ger.

‘‘With a truck, you can pick and choose where you want to go, but now I have a base. It’s scary and ex­cit­ing, but I want this to be­come a des­ti­na­tion.’’

Up to 10 new staff will be hired, and Neuang-keo, who came to New Zealand as a refugee from Laos in 1981 when she was 9, had in­ter­viewed Thai chefs her­self.

Neuang-keo hoped to mix things up reg­u­larly by hav­ing dif­fer­ent Asian food nights, along with tra­di­tional street and coun­try Thai food.

Daeng Neuang-keo, the owner of Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen, who opened her restau­rant on Sun­day.

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