Connecting to the community through Japanese food
The best customer by far, of Angie Kim and Isaac Jeon’s Teriyaki Town—at 10 years old, the first-ever Japanese restaurant in Kawartha Lakes — is Joan Philips. Ever since the restaurant first opened its doors, Joan, then 84, began a tradition of showing up every Saturday. Dinner service started at five, and she’d get to her parking spot 10 minutes early. She no longer drives, but friends drop her off, and she has continued the tradition by ordering takeout, and expects she’ll return through the doors when possible.
Before Angie and Isaac moved to Canada in 2000 from South Korea, Angie was familiar with the food industry. Angie, who trained as a nutritionist, worked for a dietitian and in a huge cafeteria. When she and Isaac immigrated to Canada, deciding to start their own business was the route they chose. They ran a Japanese restaurant in Toronto for 15 years, while Isaac operated a catering business, organizing the dishes for various events across Toronto: hotel relaunches, weddings and grand events. A marketing manager for a construction conglomerate in Korea, he made new connections and established good relationships through the catering business.
Angie had a friend from Cameron who knew restaurant space was available in Lindsay – a former Vietnamese eatery. They decided to take a chance and relocate. When asked where the name Teriyaki Town came from, Isaac said, “When we set up the restaurant, we felt this town was not familiar with sushi and foods with raw fish, so rather than advertising that, we thought of a name that would be more friendly to this community, and that really worked well.”
All of their tables are four-seat booths, except a special one set up near the back. Angie told the Advocate the restaurant is busy on Saturday evenings, so rather than have Joan occupy a big booth during dinner rush, Angie set up a one-person table specifically for her. The restaurant gives off the feeling of being back with nature, with all of its booths (both tables and seats) made from the same dark brown wood, with a silver brick-shaped tile wall and a display near the roof of green plantation decorum. The side walls are dark golden yellow and adorned with gorgeous paintings, and the relatively dim lighting also makes for a great atmosphere.
Angie and Isaac keep serving painting-worthy dishes with, in their words, “local produce, sustainable fish, and innovative ingredients.” When asked what their personal favourite dishes were, Angie said she really enjoys the dishes with sushi, such as dragon rolls. Isaac recommends maki bento from the lunch menu, and their dinner menu’s best-seller combo.
Outside the restaurant, Isaac loves sports, tennis particularly, and working out in his at-home gym. Angie is a big fan of gardening, taking care of her own vegetable patch. She is also beginning sewing, something Joan is teaching her after giving her a sewing machine that she had owned and used for 40 years. It’s the same machine she once used to knit two aprons for her favourite restaurant owners.