Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 10°C

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

Ipswich Town have brought in 12 new players this summer.

The summer transfer window has now closed, during which Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy brought in a total of 12 new signings on permanent or loan deals.

A man has died at The Port of Felixstowe.

Investigators say their inquiries into the death of a contract worker at the Port of Felixstowe could take some time to complete.

Police are investigating

Further instances of vehicle crime were felt in Kesgrave on Sunday night after a car window was smashed, prompting a social media appeal for those with information to come forward.

Art on the Prom at Felixstowe last year

More than 100 artists will be exhibiting this weekend as Felixstowe stages one of its most popular events of the year.

Bradley Wiggins, far left, riding through Woodbridge during the first stage of the 2012 Tour of Britain

Tour of Britain spectators will get to see champion rider Sir Bradley Wiggins racing through Suffolk again when it comes to county this month.

East of England Ambulance Trust attended the scene

Emergency services were called to St Helen’s Street in Ipswich this afternoon, after a man was hit by a bus.

ANPR checking during multi-agency police operation

More than 2,000 uninsured drivers were deprived of their vehicles in just over two years, according to Suffolk constabulary figures.

Photo caption: (L-R) Courtney Culf, Cllr TJ Haworth-Culf, Cabinet Member for Customers, Communities and Leisure, Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Ray Herring, Leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, Cllr Andy Smith, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Coastal Management and Peter Lanceley, Operations Manager at Suffolk Coastal Norse.

Extra play equipment costing £150,000 has been unveiled to give youngsters a late summer boost.

Nikos Savvas and Alan Whittaker of West Suffolk College and One sixth form

Two of the biggest education providers in Suffolk are today joining forces to create an academy trust which is designed to raise standards in the county.

Barclays Bank on Princes Street in Ipswich was closed due to a fight on the premises.

Two more suspects have been arrested after a mass brawl which led to the closure of Barclays Bank in Ipswich town centre.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages