Rice House: For the Love of Rice

I’ve been blog-silent for a week mostly because my Noah was plagued with a bad cold and pink eye. Life handed me a fevery toddler with conjunctivitis so I went into full mommy combat mode. Today on the other side of the week I’ve emerged triumphant with a healthy child, and I also happen to be the brand-spank-me-new owner of a Korean takeout joint!

What?

It all started a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon. Davy and I found out that a tiny sandwich shop called “Take A Break”, in our town square of Evergem, was looking for new owners. I never imagined I’d ever live in a “town” let alone blog about a town square, but for the love of rice anything can happen!

The monthly rent sounded too low and too good to be true. Plus, Davy attained all the necessary study and licensing for a start-up business way back when, “just in case,” before he ever even knew what Korean food was. By marriage I can also use the licenses.

The current owners of Take a Break are opening a bigger eatery next month in the city, Ghent-proper, hence their selling the smaller business. So Davy made some more calls and left some more voicemails so we could gather as much information as possible. My OCD took over.

Then that evening I was featured on a Flemish television program called Fans of Flanders and Noah made his television debut:

Noah ate through half the filming that day Fans of Flanders was here in my home including the Korean food I’d cooked in the segment.

~

Before the segment ever aired last Wednesday, I’d had a craving for Chinese food. I can make Chinese dishes just like I can make most dishes not necessarily Korean. But sometimes I just don’t want to cook! It happens to all of us.

So last Wednesday night I wanted Chinese takeout!

Here’s the thing…there is NOT ONE decent Chinese (or otherwise Asian) place we know close by (meaning 15 minute drive), but on top of it all most of them are closed on Wednesdays. But Davy and I drove on, with Noah in his car seat behind us, and searched for an open Chinese or otherwise Asian food establishment. Nothing.

We were about to head home when we got a call. If we were around, we could take a minute to take a tour of Take of Break! So we did. Davy and I saw potential. The owners told us that they’d leave behind most of the commercial appliances and display cases behind for pennies to their euros spent, because their new restaurant in the city was all stocked and furnished. With take-over and start-up costs so minimal I wanted it, but there were two other business-minded couples ahead of us, and both wanted to open sandwich shops. There are HUNDREDS of tiny sandwich shops in all of Ghent, but not one Korean food establishment. But we were third in line for the place.

I ended up making my own stir-fry and rice that night, and cursing the fact that I had to. Davy and I were convinced that one of the other couples would take the shop.

On Saturday we got the call that the first couple bailed, and the second couple seemed too hesitant, so if Davy and I wanted to open our Korean takeout…we could! Davy and I scrambled together, getting paperwork and accounting and finances in order, and as of today…

RiceHouseLogoFinalJPG

I am the proud new owner of a Rice House in Evergem!

It sounds insane but what about my life isn’t, really?

~

Rice House, a Korean takeout restaurant, will be open on May 1st, 2014.

It’s on “Library Street” (Bibliotheekstraat 6, Evergem) and just three bus stops away, or a walk, from my home. There is indeed the town’s library down the street. But there’s also the pre-school that Noah will be attending, in November, right across the street! I blogged about our first tour of Noah’s school last May…the one with the napping room:

NappingRoom

The idea of dropping Noah off at school and picking him up from across the street at Rice House makes my heart race it’s so cute.

Thanks to socialism and all its wonders, it’s easier to open a one-woman business in Belgium than it is in the States. How else would I have a (legal) business in my name in less than a week? This would never happen in Manhattan. But this is Ghent. This is a country based on the honor system and entrepreneurship in good ways and bad, and this last week proved very good for me. All signs seem to point to rice in Evergem!

If I can maneuver through Wall Street, be Head of Household in the Big Brother house, and mamasan in a whorehouse, then I’m up for the challenge of being Rice Queen in Evergem!

Always dishing,

Jun

52 Comments

  1. Lisa J

    Oh Jun, this is so fabulous! Congratulations! You will rock the Rice House even better than the Big Brother House!! Although I am positive you will be a major success: dangsin-ege seong-gong-eul giwon (google is the best!)

    Reply
  2. WOW! You never cease to amaze me! You’re obviously an awesome wife and mama, and now you’re bringing Rice House to your town! I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I hope you have time for those of us who come here daily to hear your words of wisdom. PS: Do you deliver? I guess not to Illinois. 🙂

    Reply
  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    This is such a wonderful Jun story. Your life is a great adventure and the key is that you’re always willing to take a chance.

    Your stories of how Belgium is geared towards family life means you’ll be able to run your business and take care of your family.

    Davy is such a supportive partner. Totally convinced he’s Heaven sent by your father.

    Running a business in close proximity to Noah’s daycare is an enormous bonus.

    Excited for you!!

    Reply
  4. Christina

    Congratulations!!! I just “liked” your Rice House on FB for TINIEST odds I’ll ever make it to Belgium touring around. lol Love reading your blogs and looking forward to all the stories the Rice House will bring. Wishing you all the success! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Wo

    Everything seems to have fallen into place at the right time Jun. How exciting it must be for you. I’m green with envy for anyone within distance to taste your creations on opening day. Damn – I’m suddenly hungry & can’t wait to read all about it as it unfolds.

    Reply
  6. OMGoodness, how awesome is this news?!!!! I’m so excited for you, and only wish I could sample some of your wares! I wish you every success with Rice House! Noah is going to love helping you when he’s able too, I’d bet. Who knows… this might be your first of many… you might become the Korean Chipoltle of Belgium or something!

    Reply
  7. Fabnsab

    As a food person, I am reading this with my heart racing for you!!

    Congratulations! There is nothing better than being your own boss and doing what you love!

    I just handed my place over to my best friend but we still do catering together. I love it.

    I am embarrassed to say I have never tried Korean food although I always wanted to. If I were to cook a meal, what would you suggest?

    A reality show winning, expat married to a handsome local and having a gorgeous toddler, opening her first restaurant. I say start the cameras rolling!

    Reply
  8. Pat

    I am so happy for you!! On top of everything, you will have Noah right across the street. After reading this, you would have thought I just got the keys to my new place of business. LOL There is no doubt in my mind you will do great! Oh Jun, you are so blessed. Oh by the way, what did Momz say?
    I hope we still get to hear from you. I don’t have a twitter account, maybe I should get one and only check to see how you are doing. Oh well, I don’t even know how it works, so I’ll just wait for your WONDERFUL blogs.
    Much love…keep dishing,
    Pay

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Congratulations Jun! It would be awesome to get some recipes if you start a website. I’ve never placed another order of Chinese Food in five years since discovering Thai and Korean…. I should say ‘Americanized’ Chinese Food

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    What wonderful news for you and your family! I must say that my first thought is of Noah totally being in charge because he is so versatile in his own kitchen! So happy for you.

    Reply
  11. I’m HUNGRY! Get in my belly! Will you be able to cook the same dishes every day? What will the hours be? You’ll tweet less, and Blog less. It’s like our little girl has grown up and moved away. You will have to drive now. oooooo! A Rice House chain. International! So happy for you.

    Reply
  12. Emily

    Oh so exciting ….I have loved your food and recipes and anyone who tries them will be back ….I need Rice House down the block from my house!!! I only wish …. Congratulations and so much luck

    Reply
  13. Congratulations! This is so exciting! I wish you tons of luck! If you have time, along the way, it would be fun to see pictures & hear how it’s all coming along! So sweet that Noah will be right across the street 🙂

    Reply
  14. You looked so calm, smart and beautiful and Noah so sweet on TV – wish Davy had walked in from work at the end and gave you a big kiss! Love romance. You will soon have a “Rice House” chain that will hit Manhattan too. Of course it will happen – you’re Jun. You can do anything you set your heart on.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    im sorry to say,
    this was the most terrible rice dish ive eaten in years.
    No taste and flavour nor was there anything with herbs in it,lime? lemongrass? vinegar..
    no coriander i only found 3 pieces of chicken and 2 carrots and beans and onion
    the rice was soaked in 2 layers of soy sauce and it was dry as a spoon of sand after heating it i the microwave.Was it actually sushi rice you used for the chicken dish?
    Korean dish isnt about japanese sushi without vinegar or chicken with beans and soy sauce???
    it just crumbled so you had to eat it with a spoon. No flavor whatsoever.

    I guess its a poor thing in evergem it ould have been nice to have a nice oriental asian cuisine
    but a dich with only carrots beans and soy sauce isnt what i call a challenge..
    Anybody with a rice cooker and a pan can make this dish.

    I hope you will take it more seriously in the future and buy some books or whatsoever
    your buisness wont last long im afraid to say.

    Reply

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