Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 12°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

Ransomes Jacobsen operations director Simon Rainger addresses staff as the company's last Ransomes Commander mover leaves the production line.

Staff at Ipswich-based turf maintenance machinery maker Ransomes Jacobsen have marked the end of an era, with the last Ransomes Commander mower having rolled off the production line.

Charles Manning on the new patio area at Bears Boutique Bar and Bowling in Star Lane, Ipswich

Businessman Charles Manning is pleased with the way his Bears bowling bar and grill is fitting into the entertainment offer in Ipswich – and with the business community.

The rate of growth in the UK economy rebounded during the second quarter of 2015, but the manufacturing sector continued to struggle, according to official figures.

UK growth bounced back in the second quarter of 2015 as gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.7%, according to official figures.

Barker Gotelee has welcomed Lucy Underwood, conveyancing assistant, Linda Crawford, solicitor, Nicky Sunderland. trust and estate planning practitioner, and Lisa Hobbs, junior secretary.

Ipswich-based law firm Barker Gotelee has welcomed four new employees across its expanding business.

A Ryanair aircraft atStansted Airport.

Budget airline Ryanair today reported a 25% jump in earnings for the first quarter of its new financial year.

Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Alton Towers owner Merlin expects annual earnings for its theme parks business to drop by as much as £47million this year following last month’s rollercoaster crash.

Artist's impression of how an office development in Sheepen Road, Colchester, could look

A council has managed to secure tenants for a new office development before work has even begun on building it.

Manufacturers in the East of England are in confident mood, according to a new report.

Manufacturers in the East of England are helping to lead the way in exports and business confidence, according to a new report

Tom Gillman of Crafted.

Mediterranean Shipping Company, which has its UK head office in Ipswich, has launched a new global website, designed and built by locally-based digital agency Crafted.

IPRS Group celebration at Wherstead Park, Ipswich

Company celebration is a boost for charities

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages