RJ’s Taste of Asia staging its grand opening on May 5

April 23, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Regie and Judymar Mercurio are the R and J in the name of their restaurant, RJ’s Taste Orangeville’s of Asia, on Mill Street. Although they had a soft opening last June and have been in business since then, they wanted to wait until their liquor licence came through for their grand opening.

“It came in February,” Ms. Mercurio said, “but it was so cold and we decided to wait for warmer weather.”

Hence, May 5 is set as the grand opening.

Asian restaurants in Orangeville, of which there currently five, are all owned and run by people from the Philippines, as are the Mercurios.

Before her marriage to Judymar, Ms. Mercurio had come to Canada as a nannie, in 2002. Three years later, she took a holiday to go home and get married. Methodical and wise, they had done the paper from both ends and, after a few months, Mr. Mercurio was permitted to emigrate to Canada.Today  both are Canadian citizens

Having tired for work in factories with no luck, Mr. Mercurio, already a trained chef, worked in one of Orangeville’s Asian restaurants for 10 years. Yet, the two of them had ambitions for which they worked and saved until they were ready to try on their own.

Said Ms. Mercurio about the capitol they needed to open their own restaurant, “We worked and saved and saved until we could have enough money.”

Their first place was on Charleston Side Road, Caledon Village, for two years.

“We did pretty well,” Mr. Mercurio remarked. “They were good people living around there. They supported us very well.”

Still, it was not all they needed it to be and they kept their eyes open for a more suitable location. When the present shop on the busier Mill Street became available, they jumped at the chance to take it. There is a good traffic here and those on their way to other establishments, shops and offices, have every chance to notice the new Asian restaurant.

They have made a cozy place of it. Wooden tables line the walls, with built-in benches and chairs on the other sides. The tables are set with green chopsticks, forks and spoons to welcome all eating styles, and nice little baskets to hold the sauces one might like to add.

More or less in the middle of the restaurant stands a single long bench table, raised high, with tall stools on either side. A crowd of people might sit its length, passing the bowls and plates amongst them to enjoy all the flavours.

As for the menu, a great many of their dishes are, in their very nature, gluten-free. Many of the dishes can be created as vegan. The menu gives a nod to the  countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines themselves and others, whose tortuous borders weave through mountains and land disputed for hundreds of years on any map, eternally fascinating.

There is pho, the well-known Vietnamese soup with noodles and meat, tiger shrimp or vegetables and tofu. This is a large (even medium is large) bowl of soup that is an inexpensive meal in a bowl. Fragrant, delicious, feel good food.

Asked about the favourite dish on the menu, Ms. Mercurio pointed, without hesitation, to the pad thai, of which there two choices: RJ’s special and classic pad thai, both of which have the red pepper motif to indicate a degree of spiciness. The noodles are thin not broad and the sauce is their own, home made.

They make everything fresh in the restaurant and stick with the standard meats of chicken, beef and, to a lesser extend, pork, and fish/shell fish: tiger shrimp and basa for their “fish and chips,” (tofu chips), that is the usual fare in the region. 

On the business side, Ms. Mercurio’s attitude is fairly straightforward.

“We have an accountant and we just give him the papers, the bills and all that. Then we see what the market is by checking prices in other places and following those examples. We make sure that our food is excellent and we give our customers good service. That is all people want is delicious, healthy food; a nice place, very clean, and reasonable price.”

On May 5 at 3:00 p.m., the ribbon-cutting will be overseen by Mayor Jeremy Williams and there will be samples of food on offer to all.

Ms. Mercurio mentioned that she will pay the tax on individual or combo bills over $35.00 as a grand opening special.

RJ’s Taste of Asia is at 19 Mill Street. Phone 519-316-7500 for reservations or pick up. Open Tuesday to Sunday. For more information check .

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