Far East Comes to Collegeville
The Mercury Friday, March 18,
Authenticity. That뭩 the main goal at Bonjung. The food is
prepared by experienced chefs trained in the culinary techniques
of Japan and Korea. The restaurant was decorated by a designer
who was born in Japan. At Bonjung, the new restaurant in
Collegeville Station, there뭩 an attention to detail intended to
provide a total experience -- both in dining and beyond.
Owned by Gregory Shin of Schwenksville, Bonjung opened with a
March 2 "soft opening" before holding its grand opening March 6.
The grand opening featured some age-old traditions, according to
Shin, such as the breaking of sake bottles and a tea ceremony.
It뭩 all part of a strategy to bring a little Asian culture to
the Collegeville area. That includes events like cooking classes
led by Madame Saito, a Temple University instructor and the chef
and owner of Le Champignon de Tokio in Philadelphia; origami
demonstrations; and chocolate tastings.
Shin, who was born in Korea, worked for years as a project
manager for the then-MCI Worldcom, which became embroiled in
corporate scandal. Shin worked on major projects like the East
Coast뭩 E-ZPass highway toll-collecting system and FastTrack,
the West Coast뭩 equivalent.
When Shin뭩 father died last year, his brother Leo, a chef,
moved to the Philadelphia area, and Shin decided to open a
"I always had a dream of owning a restaurant, but more in the
future," he said.
Shin has assembled an experienced team at Bonjung, with each
member specializing in a certain aspect of the business. He
manages the overall operation, while Leo manages the kitchen and
sushi bar. Yonemoto is the sushi chef, and Shin뭩 wife,
Christine, decorated the eatery. Christine뭩 sister, Junee, a
musician who has managed restaurants in Tokyo, plans special
events at Bonjung. Shin뭩 sister, Nani Shin-Wannemcher, who
works in marketing for the A&E television station, markets the
Shin said Japanese dishes don뭪 rely on many spices or sauces,
but are "subtle yet profound." Korean dishes, he said, use more
herbs and spices.
Bonjung, a nonsmoking BYOB, hopes to add outdoor dining on its
terrace, hibachi tables, curb-side takeout service, private
party rooms and catering.
Shin, who graduated from Lehigh University, said he saved up
money from his time at MCI Worldcom to launch Bonjung. He said
he is leasing the restaurant with an option to buy.
Shin said the reaction to Bonjung has been very positive thus
far. Diners?comment cards have been returned with 4 and 5
ratings, the highest possible.
It was Shin뭩 father뭩 death that brought his brother back to
the area and led to Bonjung becoming a reality. So it뭩 only
fittingthat the elder Shin was on the owner뭩 mind during the
grand opening, which happened to fall a day before his father뭩
"It was joyful," Shin said. "I뭢 pretty sure my dad is looking
down and is proud, not only for me but that the family is doing
something we enjoy."
Bonjung Japanese Restaurant is in Suite 220 of Collegeville
Station, 50 W. Third Ave., Collegeville. Lunch is served from
11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. seven days a week, and dinner is served
from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 4:30 to 11
p.m. Friday through Sunday. For reservations or more
information, call 610-489-7022.
쯙he Mercury 2005