RJ’s Taste of Asia excels at culinary arts, creating authentic dishes

July 27, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

To cook consistently a fine menu and one which combines many spices and ingredients is another art form, and for this week, the Citizen visited RJ’s Taste of Asia on Mill Street to talk about food and the lives of a family restaurant. Co-owner Regie Mercurio, with her husband and chef, Judymar, was pleased to tell us about surviving Covid and why they love having their restaurant here in Orangeville.

Having cooked specifically Vietnamese plus Filipino and Thai foods in this area for over 15 years, first in another restaurant here in Orangeville and then their own place in Caledon, they have finally been settled on Mill Street for the last six years. 

She told the Citizen, “Everything’s going well since Covid. We’re still busy and people can eat in. People are happy that they can come into the restaurant now.”

With so many visitors coming to “Ontario’s prettiest small town,” as a fan of the place once claimed it for Orangeville, she was pleased to say, “We have a lot of new faces coming to the restaurant. Our food is different, very good. We always make it fresh and keep it affordable.”

As do plenty of restaurants, especially since the days when Covid made it the rule, takeaway is available, and it is very busy. People can call and pick up or order with Skip the Dishes. Ms. Mercurio did admit that customers picking up their meals saves RJ’s the delivery fees. Open six days a week, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and closed Mondays, keeps them busy but happy with the business.

Dining-in in the evening at the restaurant is convenient for the day travellers and working people, she commented. Dinner is busier than lunch; easy for customers to take meals home.

Sometimes, people come for dinner together, and there is a party atmosphere.

“We always have catering,” she explained. “For birthdays [and other occasions]. A lot of people come and reserve and have these big groups of 10 or 20 people. They bring their own cake and they leave some behind and we all sing.” 

Or: “People come in and say it’s my birthday and I give them a free brownie or something. We have vegan brownies and we make Filipino cassava cake – that’s a classic.”

The brownies come from Shines Baking Company in Shelburne.

After six years on Mill Street, she says that they are “so happy” that they moved there, and word of mouth is their best advertisement.

What is special about this restaurant is the vibe which is the family vibe. Customers can see the whole family working together. Ms. Mercurio’s mother is here, and their “kids are growing so they are good help now.”

Right now, her daughter, Irene, is becoming interested in cooking, although she is more in front of the restaurant. They are always there after school during those months, and if they have homework or a test, she sends her daughter home.

Irene is planning to become a travel nurse, a nurse who works temporarily where hospitals, clinics, etc., are short of staff.

The Mercurio family sees their establishment as long-term. When the Blues and Jazz festival was on, during the day, people were looking and listening to music, and even “we had time too,” she commented. “But after 3:00 p.m. they came to eat and we had to extend our hours. So, it was good for us. People found us because they were looking for something different to eat, then they came maybe for the first time.”

For her, the happiest thing is that she meets a lot of people and has the chance to speak to different people coming from all over the country and further.

“They come and they appreciate what we have and what we’re cooking,” she remarked. She noted that many people know about Asian food because it’s trending. When customers ask her what is the best dish, she tells them it is their special Pad Thai. Well, and they have pork adobo too, which is the Philippines’ national dish – lots of excellent choices to eat and to learn.

“They are so happy they came, that they tried my food. We are very happy – it keeps my restaurant open. My food is always fresh,” she promises. “We cook as it’s ordered so it’s stays hot.”

It is the wonderful community here that the Mercurio family loves about Orangeville, and how people in Orangeville are always ready to help local businesses by patronizing them.

Ms. Mercurio’s sister has come, and she is a big help, too, as the restaurant becomes busier. It is Vietnamese food that is the main list on the menu, and they include Thai and Filipino dishes so that people can try it and discover they like it. 

With a deep knowledge of the food, she can assure her diners that the food is authentic. Says she, “It’s the real thing.”

RJ’s Taste of Asia is located at 19 Mill Street. The restaurant is not large but very welcoming, and as soon as one enters, the smells from the kitchen set your taste buds tingling with anticipation.

Or to order, you can call them at 519-361-7500;

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