OK, so I'm not too handy with using chopsticks, but, give me a fork and spoon and I can handle just about anything.
Ahh... Sushi and noodles and Thai ice tea... I was stuffed by the end of the lunch hour and pleasantly satiated. Sitting down with Mr. Fung, I soon learned he not only loves cooking, but loves sharing his knowledge with the NoHo community. With a total of four Japanese restaurants to him name, Tamashii Ramen House, he has become a star force in defining what 'the very fine eatery' is.
Waide Riddle- So, where exactly are your four restaurants, Colin?
Colin Fung- NoHo, Sherman Oaks, Burbank and Pasadena.
WR- And what does Tamashii mean? Can you break it down?
CF- In English translation, the word ta-ma-shi-i means 'soul.' And Ramen is 'noodle.'
WR- Where were you educated?
CF- Hong Kong.
WR- Now, how did you get from Hong Kong... to... NoHo?
CF- I was born in Macau near Hong Kong. I moved to Hong Kong when I was eleven or twelve years old for middle school. After middle school, I decided to do something else, so I went to Australia for six months for English course. After six months of the English course and working in a restaurant part time, I enjoyed it, because I got free food! (we both laugh at this remark) I had to figure out what I wanted to do... I went into hotel management and was going to school for my diploma. Part time work for some pocket money. After I graduated, I went back to Hong Kong and worked at a hotel as a captain. From Captain to Assistant Restaurant Manager to Restaurant Manager... I found my way... eventually moving to a private club... opened my own restaurant. That's it... My sister had been living in California for a long time. She called me one day and said, 'You want to come to America?' So, I submitted my application form... it takes a long time. Up to twelve years of more... I thought, let's do it! I wasn't in a huge rush to come here, but time is tight. I started planning what I was going to do. I had to sell my house, get my visa's. My daughter is autistic... so I also had to think of her and the best possible care for her. So, my wife and I decided to give up Hong Kong and give it a try. We got here in June 2011... One day I was driving through Sherman Oaks and saw a coffee shop that had closed. I called the agent and after three months of construction and improvements, I opened up. I'm always looking at restaurants and considering the possibilities. It was never my intention to open a restaurant in Pasadena, but a friend of mine called me and he had no experience on how to run this business, he talked to me wanting me to take over, so... I took it over.
WR- What is the trend (in food) you see in your industry?
CF- I think now, people are looking for healthy food. But, for me, a restaurant operator, food must have more transparency. People want to know the ingredients. I explain everything on the menu. What's inside the dishes. Have an open kitchen. I think the future, more simple and healthy food... Also, the 'tip system,' I think it will change in the future... slowly. If I open a fifth restaurant, there will be no tip system. It will be a restaurant with a cashier, place your order, I will call you to pick up your order. The reason? Because of economic resources.
WR- Now, let's get to the fun questions...
WR- What is your favorite book?
CF- All and everything related to my business. Everything food. Cookbooks. When I was in Hong Kong, I read lots of books about cigars. Cheese. Sakai, the Japanese wine. Because I was a food manager, I had to have this knowledge to explain to clientele.
WR- Do you smoke cigars?
CF- No. Not now. After I had my child, no. But, when I was in the restaurant, yes. Most of the restaurant people do.
WR- What is your favorite movie?
CF- I'm not the kind of guy that's crazy for a movie... I'm more of a guy that likes an old song...
WR- That leads right into my next question! Do you have a favorite song?
CF- I love the Bee Gees. I have a disc in my car.
WR- Who doesn't like the Bee Gees?! Oh my God! We can remember when they first premiered their music.
CF- Our age! (We are both laughing at this time!) And, we can remember when our favorite singer's album would be released... but, now, it's too convenient. You can get it anywhere. You could appreciate the album, then. You could touch it. And now it's too easy to share your opinion about how you like a song or not.
WR- Well, Colin, I am more than stuffed! Your restaurant is wonderful and I thank you so much for giving me the time to get to know you better. You're one of the reasons NoHo Arts District is charming and booming.
CF- Thank you.
COLIN FUNG is a fascinating man. He is personable, passionate and excited to tell his clientele about all-things food and the culinary arts. To find out more: www.tamashiiramen.com. "Eat it, feel it & share it!"
Tamashii Ramen House
11024 Magnolia Blvd.
**** For information on Los Angeles theatre, tickets to theatre in North Hollywood's NoHo Arts District, theatre reviews, the NoHo Event Calendar, restaurants, news and local businesses in NoHo, or anything and everything about the NoHo Arts Community, bookmark nohoartsdistrict.com. Follow us on Twitter @OfficialNoHo. On Instagram @NoHoArtsDistrict and Facebook @NoHoArtsDistrict.