November 13, 2012
Asian restaurant opening
Main Street eatery will offer a mix of Asian cuisine
A new Asian restaurant is opening Wednesday downtown at 47-49 Main St.
Wild Ginger Asian Fusion will offer a little bit of everything, said co-owner Wen Jun Ren, including hibachi, Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes.
The restaurant will also offer bubble tea — a flavored tea with tapioca pearls.
Ren, 43, shares Wild Ginger with her cousin, Shaohong Wu, 36.
Ren first got into the restaurant business when she immigrated to the U.S. in 1983 because her sister owned a Chinese restaurant in New York City.
For the last 10 years, Ren has also been a co-owner of Fuji San, a Japanese restaurant in Vestal.
All of Ren’s family work in the food industry, she said.
Ren got the idea to open a restaurant downtown after passing through the area on a visit to a relative’s restaurant in Ithaca.
The college student population and the lack of Asian cuisine downtown made the market attractive, Ren said.
Michelle Zheng, Ren’s 20-year-old daughter, thought it was “long overdue” for an Asian restaurant to come to the area, especially with such a large SUNY community in Cortland.
Wild Ginger’s name was borrowed from a restaurant owned by a relative.
The restaurant’s dishes will differ from the food Ren ate while in China, she said.
Ren was quick to point out that different areas of China have different cuisines, but said that generally the cooking has more of a whole food approach.
For example, a fish dish in China might include the skin and bones, but the restaurant will serve fish fillets, Ren said.
When Wild Ginger opens, it will employ about eight to 10 people, she said.
Ren’s goal for Wild Ginger is to expand and to hire more people in the future.
“We hope so,” Ren said. “It all depends on business.”
The building’s interior, which now features a dark brown bar with multicolored lights and paper lanterns with floral designs, was completely renovated for the eat-in only, family style restaurant.
Walls and flooring were redone, ceiling tiles were replaced and a kitchen and sushi bar installed.
“Pretty much, like, everything,” Ren said of renovations.
Wild Ginger will serve dishes, instead of offering a buffet.
Ren said she was unsure how much has been invested in the restaurant so far.
“We didn’t sit down to figure it out yet,” Ren said. “We just spend, spend money.”
Ren, and her husband, Li Zheng, 44, did most of the renovations themselves. The work began in March.
Ren was excited to expand into other types of Asian cuisine.
If a family is going out to eat, they don’t need to worry if everyone can find a dish they like, she said.
Michelle Zheng, who is studying international business at Broome Community College, is impressed by what her mother and father have done as entrepreneurs.
“It definitely inspires me,” Michelle Zheng said, “and I know if I wanted to start a business of my own, I have their full support.”
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