Momiji is embracing two cultures
Restaurant makes the big move
Momiji has taken on a new look since moving from the Bridge Block to where the Orange used to be.
Still a Japanese restaurant, it has embraced the cafe´ culture and Western-style breakfast, attracting new patrons to its new premises.
Jodie O’Leary is the barista and Suzy Buckingham recently started as breakfast chef. She also makes slices and muffins for the food cabinet at the front counter.
Owner / chef Bizen Miyake says the business with its new look is catching on.
“So far, so good,” — and that sounds odd with a Japanese accent. Bizen and his wife Tomoko are from Kyoto, spent time in Auckland but now call Whanganui home. Staff call him Zen.
Most of their staff are Japanese, and among the Kiwi dainties in the food cabinet, there are packs of sushi made by Bizen.
“He’s the sushi king,” says Suzy. The previous premises were just not big enough.
“Every night we were booked out,” says Bizen, “and the kitchen there was too small. Then we found this place was on the market. We jumped at it and got in. It’s much easier to work here.”
The kitchen is quite large, even with a full compliment of staff on the cookers and serving customers. He’s keen on the new aspects of the business.
“Hopefully our new barista, Jodie, will bring more customers, and also our breakfast chef, Suzy.”
Bizen says there is a chef changeover at 11 when Japanese cuisine rules. Overall there are a dozen staff covering Western and Japanese food and drink.
He likes Whanganui.
“You can get everywhere in 15 minutes and I like the fishing.”
Suzy is very happy to have made the move to Momiji.
“It’s new, I like Zen and it’s a nice atmosphere. It’s a good vibe: we’re really lucky.”
Bizen Miyake (left) with some of his Momiji staff and the two newcomers Suzy Buckingham (in chef whites) and Jodie O’Leary (right).