Written Interview: Tokyo Garden Sushi Restaurant, Fort Langley

Sue Hong is co-owner of the Tokyo Garden restaurant in Fort Langley BC, along with her husband, Sun Hong. Their daughter, Julie, is a waitress at the restaurant. All those, young and old, who visit Tokyo Garden are greeted with a smile and a happy hello. When they leave, they are sure to remember not only the food, but also the wonderful people behind it. They are all here today and have agreed to be interviewed.

What is your full name?

WanSook Hong or Sue.  My daughter’s name is Julie and my husband’s name is Sun.

 Where were you born?

 I was born in South Korea.

When did you immigrate to Canada?

 In 2000, November, my whole family and me came to Canada. That is my husband, my daughter Julie and I.

 Do you like it in Canada?

Yes. The people here are so friendly. Although at first we did not know anybody because our relatives are back in Korea. We started off living in a townhouse in Burnaby, BC.

When did you open Tokyo Garden restaurant?

A year after we came to Canada we opened the restaurant. In November 2001.

What made you want to open a sushi restaurant?

When we made up our minds to come here, [my husband] thought he couldn’t get a job as a Civil Engineer, so he was thinking about opening a sushi restaurant. One of his hobbies is cooking, even though his main job in Korea was being a Civil Engineer. In Korea I was a stay at home mom taking care of Julie…this was our first business ever, in Canada and Korea.

Why did you open your business in Fort Langley?

My husband was thinking of Downtown Vancouver or Burnaby at first, because our first house was a townhouse in Burnaby. My husband says we were lucky to get the location we did for our business. I think that God led us to Fort Langley.

How did you come across this location?

Well, like I said, my husband just wanted to open a business downtown Vancouver but one day we connected with a realtor who happened to have information on this location in Fort Langley. We had never even heard of Fort Langley. The original owner wanted to sell. We came to see it with the realtor and enjoyed seeing the location.

What do you like most about your job?

Julie and Sue were elated to say: meeting the babies.

Sue is infamous for her hugs and making children smile with lollipops after their meals.

 I treat the customer like my family and they do the same. Friends are important in my life, customers treat me very kindly, they make me the person that I am.

 What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in having a business?

To meet the people and be connected. I treat people like I have invited them into my home and they are my family.

What are the biggest obstacles that you face in running a business?

At first I couldn’t understand what the customers said. Even though I majored in English at Korean University. Learning English in Korea back then was not the same. They did not teach you to speak or have a conversation, only to read and write. As you know I am a hot food cook. In Korea the women in the kitchen did not come out, and they were not talked to. They were almost looked down on, not on the same level.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of running a restaurant?

Julie: A good location is very important. Also, use the best ingredients and make sure they are fresh otherwise the customer will know.

 Sue: Do your best and do not cheat. Treat the customers well. Always give a little extra on their plates, don’t give any less. [Sue laughs]

When you were a little girl what was your dream occupation?

My very first dream was to be a diplomat, I soon knew that wasn’t what I wanted and pursued becoming a stewardess, and I ended up failing my final test. But in the end I’m here and I’m happy.

Interview by: Arden Holmes

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