What Rice House Means to Me

Not many people outside my immediate family know this, but…

When I won Big Brother in 2003 and returned to New York, I told my parents that I wanted to invest my winnings in opening a Korean takeout place on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. It’s where I was living at the time and I thought there was a hole in the market. My parents freaked out completely. Freaking out was my momz thing and never my dad’s, so it shocked me. He’d become fearful.

My dad was still in the Intensive Care Unit at Beth Israel Hospital at the time, and he almost cried, saying he didn’t want me to open a business. He said it was too risky and that I should invest in real estate instead. But I knew what he really meant.

My dad was dying and we all knew it. His kidneys were barely functioning and dialysis was making his sicker. He just wanted to see me stable and back to my old life, before Big Brother ever happened, before he died. My dad wanted me to go back to work at Citigroup or any group comprised of bankers, and have a “steady job” again so he could die in peace.

Except he never said it like that, at least not to me.

I felt like a monster that day for making him worry, when all he should have been doing was resting and recuperating and staying alive. So I didn’t invest in the takeout place. But I didn’t go back to work right away either. I spent as much time as I could with my dad and my family, and months later I did end up buying real estate with my Big Brother winnings and I returned to work in finance too (more on this).

My dad passed away shortly thereafter, in 2004, knowing I could take care of myself but probably never considering I’d do anything as crazy as illegal (more on this). I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. I’m a different person but I’m the same person.

And now I’m finally opening a Korean takeout place – in my little Belgian town in Ghent called Evergem (Everville), no less! Rice House is happening and my dad’s not around to see it. But I can picture him laughing from heaven because I’m getting everything I wanted in the end.

I am his daughter after all.

This is what I’m starting with:



Where now stands Take A Break is where Rice House will open its doors on May 1st!


Every time I embark on a new adventure I try not to dwell on bad shit that’s happened in my life, but I do acknowledge that it made me who I was and who I am today. You cannot forget where you came from because nobody else knows but you, in the end. You owe it to yourself to never lose who you are, and to not listen to people’s advice to sell sandwiches AND rice. Um, no.

And for me and my husband Davy, Noah priority #1, and Rice House #2. At some point Noah will be “helping” me at Rice House and things will fall into place. I can’t wait for that day.

I’m lucky to have a man in my life after my dad, who believes in me wholeheartedly.  I couldn’t do this without Davy.

Always dishing,





  1. Sparky

    Oh Jun, I am sure your Dad is telling everyone in Heaven See, that’s my girl!. He is so proud of you. He knew it wasn’t the right time 10 years ago, but it is now. I am so happy to see another dream come true for you guys. Love you all.

  2. This will make me take a trip to Belgium one day and snap a photo with you at your Rice House! Then visit my niece living in the UK – you have inspired me to do so! I feel so proud of you…like a family member!

  3. I believe that starting your restaurant in Belgium instead of NYC will be a world of difference. The lifestyle there will allow you to keep your family a priority and not have your business consume you. That’s my wish for you, at any rate.
    Can’t wait to take the ride from 4,000 miles away! 🙂

  4. My head is still spinning that you are really going to open your take-out restaurant! I hope it is everything you imagined and then some!

    Is Momz as excited for you as the rest of us are?

    Selfishly, I hope you continue to blog through the process and thereafter. This is not unlike Noah’s birth but thankfully will not have to come out of your vagina 🙂

  5. kcsmum

    Sheeessshhhh. Any day now someone’s gonna get the brilliant idea to sell hot dogs with rice. Hot dogs very Ametican and Belgians love sausage (I have this on good authority). With six you get egg roll or something like that. I can’t wait till May!

  6. Hello Jun, I know it’s been awhile and I am so happy about the Rice House. Timing is everything right? You might not have met Davy if you had been tied down to it. On Noah’s first birthday didn’t he choose the chopsticks? It’s been so long since that. We have never met but I am so happy and proud of you. I still can’t cook but Swansons has come out with new broths here. I am addicted to the Thi Ginger so much flavor I can’t fail when adding veggies and canned coconut milk. I keep trying things because of your talent and personality. They are going to love this and you. Best wishes as always! Lynda

  7. When you talk about your Dad, it warms my heart. I’m sorry you lost him, but I believe he is still with you. You know he’s proud! I don’t know you but, I am proud of you too. You always go for it, you are brave. Noah has great role models in his Parents.

  8. Peg

    Jun, you have shown respect toward your father and now the respect is coming back to you.

    Perhaps you can place a picture of your father on a wall of honor in Rice House with a quote or verse or advise he gave you – in three languages, Dutch, English and Korean. Then when you’re as busy as a bee you can look to him and give him a smile and a wink….he’ll get it…and you’ll feel the love coming right back.

    You can also frame, behind glass, Noah’s first birthday tradition gown to add to the decor of authentic Korean diversity. This is a dream come true for you.

    I dare to speak for all your fans, but we are all very proud of you. Congratulations and best wishes.

  9. Noah helping Umma in the shop someday… this I pictured the first day you announced your new venture! The pictures are gonna be precious. Jun, I wonder… would Momz consider joining you in Belgium once her Momz is gone?

  10. Carie Mahoner

    Wow, Jun! I’m so happy for you; about to realize another dream!!! I’m wishing you only the best *and* great success! Major hugs!


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