Fin­ish line in sight for Formosa

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - THE CHINA SHOP - ERIN TASKER

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.

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