Momiji is em­brac­ing two cul­tures

Restau­rant makes the big move

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS - By PAUL BROOKS

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.”

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Bizen Miyake (left) with some of his Momiji staff and the two new­com­ers Suzy Buck­ing­ham (in chef whites) and Jodie O’Leary (right).

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