Finish line in sight for Formosa
Taiwanese cuisine will soon be on the menu for Mid Cantabrians looking for a dinner out, or a quick takeaway.
Ashburton couple Don Chen and Amber Huang, who are originally from Taipei in Taiwan but met while living and working in New Zealand, are opening a Taiwanese restaurant in the former Stirling Sports building on Ashburton’s West Street. They’re calling it Formosa, which Huang said was an old Spanish name for Taiwan, which meant small, beautiful land.
It’s a project two years in the planning, and the finish line is now in sight. Furniture has arrived, the kitchen is installed and their chefs are ready to tickle Mid Cantabrians’ taste buds. They plan to be open for business in early September.
Huang said they’d worked hard to find the right spot for the restaurant and it was a friend who alerted them to the former sports shop on West Street, which covers two floors and approximately 470 square metres. They fell in love with it, and they have big plans. Huang will be painting one of the walls herself, with a vision of telling the story of the inspiration behind the restaurant and why the couple love New Zealand so much.
Eighty per cent of the menu is already set.
‘‘Before we open we will do a trial opening and a chef’s table, so after that we might make a few slight changes,’’ Huang said.
Chen is a chef, and he’ll be joined by Daniel Hsu and Vincent Jhong, who have moved to the district from Taiwan. All three refined their skills at the renowned Kai Ping Culinary School in Taiwan, and Hsu worked at Ashburton’s Farmers Corner for two-and-a-half years with Chen, before returning to Taiwan for two years. Jhong was working in the airline food industry for Trans Asian Airlines before coming to New Zealand.
The restaurant will be able to take a maximum of 120 guests, and will provide a fine dining option upstairs with a VIP room at the back, while downstairs is for casual dining. The downstairs section also includes a bar and waiting area for takeaway food, while the kitchen is upstairs. The open style will allow diners to watch the chefs working their magic, and talk to them as they create.
Huang, who will be the restaurant’s manager, said they’d also be looking at employing four or five service staff.
The chefs at Ashburton’s new Formosa restaurant, (from left) Vincent Jhong, Daniel Hsu and Don Chen.