Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the March
3, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Out to Lunch: BYOB
BYOB is a delightful surprise. Sited in an old strip mall on
Princeton-Hightstown Road in Princeton Junction with Chicken Holiday
and Dominos Pizza as neighbors, its exterior gives little hint of the
stylish dining room within. Its name doesn’t throw off any clues
either. "Oh, this is an Asian restaurant!" exclaims a young woman, out
to try a new lunch spot soon after BYOB opened. Indeed it is.
Danny Ho, the owner of the 82-seat restaurant, says he was going for a
departure from the handful of names that Asian restaurants tend to go
by. "I didn’t want China Dynasty," he says. "I saw ‘BYOB’ in every
restaurant ad, and decided that would be the name."
Ho is a native of Taiwan who immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 12
years old. After working in California restaurants for some 20 years
he came to New Jersey to manager sushi bars for the company that
handles them for McCaffrey’s supermarkets. He and a partner then
purchased the Orchid Pavilion on Nassau Street. The partnership
soured, and he moved on.
While managing sushi bars for McCaffrey’s, he began to cast about for
restaurant space in West Windsor, where he lives with his wife, the
two youngest of his three children, and his wife’s parents. He found
space in the storefront most recently occupied by an Asian market.
It’s not perfect, he admits. There is no space for a terrace, which he
enjoyed at Orchid Pavilion, but, he says, "if I wanted West Windsor,
this is the best I could do."
Construction took 19 months. He had to fire his first crew when it was
unable to work with township officials, and has high praise for the
Sabastino Nini company, which finished the job. His wife, Maggie Meng,
is responsible for the handsome interior design. Chairs in a deep
cherry-colored wood add a warm feel and enormous windows in front and
at the side light up the whole room. Decorations are a mix of Japanese
and Chinese to reflect the cuisine.
Two of the most prominent decorations, one on each side, are large
murals made of color burned into wood. One depicts a general and an
emperor locked in battle over an Othello-like game, and the other is a
landscape of ducks swimming among water lilies. Both murals hung in a
restaurant that Ho’s in-laws owned in China.
Sushi chef Tom Tao, a veteran of New York City restaurants, presides
over the sleek deep red and black sushi bar. Ho, while proud of the
quality and variety of the sushi and sashimi served, emphasizes that
BYOB has a complete Japanese kitchen. It serves a full range of
traditional noodle, teriyaki, and tempura dishes. In addition, the
restaurant has a full Chinese menu, and also serves some Malaysian
Most Chinese lunch specials, including soup and rice, run about $6.
Japanese specials are a couple of dollars more. Sushi and sashimi
dishes a la carte range from $3 to $4.50. Service is fast and friendly
– but not hurried. Acoustics are perfect. There is the nice buzz that
speaks of humans enjoying their meals, but tables are spaced far apart
enough to allow private conversation.
All credit cards are accepted, and, yes, diners are welcome to bring
their own bottles.
– Kathleen McGinn Spring
08550. Danny Ho, owner. 609-799-9198; fax, 609-799-9197.
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