May and Jason Tseng, owners of the New Canton Chinese Restaurant in South Street, celebrated ten years in the town this month, not by letting off fireworks and holding a lavish party but by simply serving customers authentic Peking and Cantonese food in the restrained comfort of their restaurant – so, it was business as usual.
With May covering front-of-house duties and Jason working in the kitchen, this married couple came to England 20 years ago from Hong Kong. They learned their trade in restaurants in London and Bristol before taking over a take-away business in, Taunton, 14 years ago. Opening the New Canton in Wellington in 2002 gave them the chance to operate both a restaurant service and a take-away at the same time.
In the words of the Somerset Food and Drink Guide, ‘the fresh, modern colours and well-lit interior of the New Canton are just the starting point for a sensational lunch or dinner, because everything that exits the kitchen is a true gastronomic feat’. Such praise is the outcome of 20 years’ experience in the UK, from which they have sensitively adjusted their menu to UK tastes. According to May, their Peking duck has ‘a slightly stronger flavour’ and their Cantonese fare is ‘more Westernised’.
The success of the business, whilst ‘wavy’ according to factors such as the season, the local economy and, in May’s view, the nature of a town where ‘people don’t go out much at certain times of the year’, means that they employ 6 part-time assistants. Their menu is wide-ranging, very attractively priced and includes a ‘Thai Corner’, a set menu and even ‘Deluxe Dinners’ for special occasions. Local butcher Tim Potter supplies their beef and other ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible.
Given our undiminished taste for Oriental food, New Canton’s exotic menu, its position in the heart of the town and its comfort and customer-friendliness, there is no reason why May and Jason should not still be around to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2022. Happy Birthday, New Canton.