Meng Paule and Ging Day had years of experience cooking together before the doors of their new restaurant, “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen,” opened earlier this year.
The sisters-in-law opened their business at the beginning of March, choosing a prime downtown location at 521 Water St. to continue dishing up the traditional Filipino recipes that they have served for years during annual Ketchikan summer events.
“Actually, we’ve been doing the Fourth of July (Plaza mall event),” Meng Paule said during a recent interview with the Daily News. “That’s where we started, doing the Fourth of July booth and also the Blueberry Festival.”
The annual Fourth of July and Blueberry Arts festival booths that Paule and Day still plan to put up are also under the name, “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen.”
It was a purposeful move, according to Paule.
“They (locals) know us already, it’s the same name as the Blueberry festival and the Fourth of July,” she said. “And so we decided just to use that name since they know us by that.”
Largely, the recipes also are the same — lumpia, pancit, silog meals and more appear on the “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen” menu.
Paule said that opening a restaurant had always been in the back of her mind, but the opportunity to act on the idea came after the February 2020 landslide that hit the Tatsuda’s IGA building and resulted in the store’s closure.
That prompted Paule’s husband, who had worked at Tatsuda’s, to seek other employment.
“And he was looking for a job, and it’s kind of hard to look for a job at that time as well, and we just decided to look for a place and open up a business,” Paule explained.
Paule then approached her sister-in-law with the idea.
“We kind of just grew up cooking and watching our parents cook,” Ging Day said. “And Meng started this business and we just tag along, because she asked me if I wanted to help her and my brother. The first time they asked me, I was kind of like, ‘Really? In this time of this pandemic?’ And they go, ‘Why not?’”
“We actually want people to know about our culture,” Paule said. “And also, of course, our food. We wanted to offer Filipino food.”
The space that houses “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen” at 521 Water St. was one that Paule had been eyeing for a long time.
“The reason we really picked this spot is because of the cruise ships,” Day said, noting that without ships, their business looks a little different than what was expected this summer.
But “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen” still gets plenty of local visitors.
“It’s kind of up and down, but most of the time, it’s good,” Day said of business. “It’s busy.”
Expansion of the menu may be on the horizon, but for the time being, “Meng and Ging’s Kitchen” is all about “how we can provide a good service, even though it’s kind of limited right now,” according to Day.
Since the local coronavirus risk level moved up to the highest level earlier this month, the restaurant has been doing take-out or pick-up orders.
“When it becomes a little bit more normal again, we’ll probably offer more types of Filipino and Asian food,” Paule noted. “That’s what we’re planning to do in the future.”