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

dishes.

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

BYOB 41 Princeton Hightstown Road, Princeton Junction

08550. Danny Ho, owner. 609-799-9198; fax, 609-799-9197.


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