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Daily Business

Far East Comes to Collegeville

The Mercury Friday, March 18, 2005

Michael Lello, mlello@pottsmerc.com

COLLEGEVILLE -- 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 restaurant.

"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 restaurant.

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 birthday.

"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

 

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W 3rd Ave & Walnut St (50 Third Ave), 
Collegeville Station #220, Collegeville, PA 19426

610.489.7022 (b)                                       610.489.7023 (f)
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All Rights Reserved.