Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 14°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Ipswich: Trong’s restaurant business celebrates family values

13:59 01 February 2014

The family behind the popular Ipswich Resturant, Trong

The family behind the popular Ipswich Resturant, Trong's Michala, Hop, Foo, Cau, and Hung Trong.

Trong’s restaurant, now feted as one of the best in the Ipswich area, is about to celebrate 17 years in business.

shares

The family Chinese restaurant, in historic St Nicholas Street, is a story of success for a family who fled Vietnam after the end of the Vietnamese war in the 1970s.

Millions of Vietnamese left their country looking to start new lives abroad, many of them risking storms and pirates and the dangers of sea.They became known as the Vietnamese boat people.

In Ipswich a reception centre was set up at the old Foxhall isolation hospital (where the Nuffield Hospital is today).

As a news reporter I remember going there. It was where I first drank green tea, and learned to eat rice from a bowl with chopsticks.

Foo Trong’s parents, dad Cau and mum Hop didn’t speak a word of English, but managed to get a boat to Hong Kong, where they had to apply to be allowed to come to the UK.

They arrived in Ipswich in December 1979. They had four children with them, brothers Foo, Hao and Viet and sister Lucy.

Foo’s dad, who is Chinese, had worked as a ships engineer and metalworker, while his mum is Vietnamese. Foo said: “I was quite young. One of my earliest memories here is seeing snow for the first time.

“We didn’t speak a word of English. I went to Copleston School where I did lots of English lessons, sports and maths, and I learned from the other people around me.”

Foo, two brothers and their sister still help out with the business, along with their parents. “My mum and dad still love being involved,” he said. “People don’t realise what is it like until they get into the restaurant world. We all get on well with each other, most of the time.

“I love the buzz and the hype and the pressure in the kitchen to get everything right every time. It is incredible.”

From a teenager he worked in other restaurants, and his parents for a Chinese takeaway, before they launched Trong’s in April 1997.

“It is incredible how time flies,” he said. “I don’t know where the years have gone by so quickly. I think our lives are so busy working and everything. We need to stop and take stock every so often and take note of things.

“It has been hard work but it is very rewarding and enjoyable. I have met so many customers over the past 15 or 16 years. Customers have become friends.

“Because it is family run, and not very big, you get to know a lot of people, and enjoy the customers’ company. I enjoy it all. I can’t see myself doing anything different really. I think I still have many years ahead of me.”

The restaurant was already looking busy up to Easter, he said. The phone rang several times while we chatted with customers wanting to book tables.

The customers had changed too, he said, and in a good way. “They are much more adventurous, it is not just sweet and sour any more,” he said.

“They know more about food and they are travelling a lot more. They are more knowledgeable. People didn’t used to know about ginger, and garlic and lemon grass. The food trade is improving and getting much better.”

Foo and wife Michala, who is from Bury St Edmunds, have three sons and one of them is working as a chef.

“Mum and dad were very brave to leave everything behind and take four children and move and go overseas,” he added. “I don’t think that I could have had the confidence to do that.

“Ipswich, Suffolk I think is the best place to raise a family. We have beautiful countryside around, the forests and the sea nearby for lovely walks. I think it is absolutely lovely. Yet you are only one and a half hours from the city. People always have time for one another here.”

shares

5 comments

  • This is the best restaurant in town by far, due to the food and especially the customer service. You always leave feeling that you have been well looked after and enjoyed the fantastic food..heres to many more years of Trongs.

    Report this comment

    I'm right,your not!!

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • This is the best restaurant in town by far, due to the food and especially the customer service. You always leave feeling that you have been well looked after and enjoyed the fantastic food..heres to many more years of Trongs.

    Report this comment

    I'm right,your not!!

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • The best restaurant that I have been to in Ipswich - excellent service, excellent food and lovely people!! Well recommended!!...

    Report this comment

    Chris Ward

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • Couldn't agree more. A superb restauant, lovely friendly staff and a great family atmosphere.

    Report this comment

    SuffolkBoy1956

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

  • Totally agree with the previous comment the staff never changes, & always remembers the customer, food & service first class. Good luck Foo, Michala & the rest of the familyteam, see you soon.

    Report this comment

    whiteknight

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Kelly-Anne Byres of Poppy Nursing and Care Services, which is based in Ipswich.

A young entrepreneur from Suffolk is among those recognised in the 2015 35 Women Under 35 Awards.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP is at Ickworth Park in Horringer to officially open the new biomass boiler. Amber Rudd is pictured with L-R: Jonathan Rhodes (programme manager - Ickworth), Dee Gathorne-Hardy (senior ranger) and Patrick Begg (programme director - Ickworth).

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will visit Suffolk today to officially launch a major new environmentally-friendly installation at Ickworth Estate.

Post Office

The branch on High Street will be shut for two weeks and is set for longer opening hours after works.

John Cox of NatWest.

The East of England witnessed the slowest rate of growth of any region or nation in Great Britain during the first three months of 2015, according to a study by the Royal Bank of Scotland group.

Mark Rigby, chief executive of business rates specialist CVS.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is facing a backlog of more than 280,000 appeals over business rates.

British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth.

Fresh signs are emerging of “two tier” growth in the UK economy, with firms within the services sector peforming markedly more strongly than those in manufacturing, according to a new study.

Mark and Spencer has posted a drop in quarterly clothing sales, after a colder May impacted demand for its spring and summer collections.

High street giant Marks & Spencer today posted a drop in quarterly clothing sales, after a colder May impacted demand for its spring and summer collections.

From left, John Nicholson,  Andy Bloomfield  and Chris Pont of IJYI.

Ipswich-based software development firm IJYI has taken on its second apprentice in the space of six months.

015 Flippie 1

A social media start-up which aims to rival the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn says it has won a significant investment ahead of its autumn launch.

Students at UCS in Interior Architecture and Design, have been taking part in a design competition to design an entrance canopy for the St Edmunds House apartments in Rope Walk.
Ross Carroll, director of Crown House Homes, left, with course tutor Dr Liana Psarologaki, and Annali Hubbard of Palmer & Partners estate agents, and some of the course students, Elliott Jones, Bryony Briggs, Dan Hutton, Amy Schuller and Michelle Villar

Apartment developers hold a design competition with university students

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages