Debbie Goh is a proud restaurateur

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Written by: editor Nov,30 2011 11:59 AM



After being crowned winner of the first Miss Chinese Astro International in 1998, Debbie went on to score acting roles in a couple of Hong Kong flicks before returning to Malaysian showbiz 13 years later and then emerged as a co-owner of an Indonesian Restaurant.

After returning to Malaysia a year ago, Debbie Goh decided to venture into the food industry with her then business partner Hudson Chung, who is the heir to the
IR 1968 Indochine Restaurant chain. She acquired a franchise for Kuala Lumpur.
“IR 1968 originally stands for Indonesia and has been operating in Hong Kong since 1968 as a family business.
Some of its regular guests are Vivian Chow Wai Mun, Cecilia Cheung Pak Chi and Sandra Ng Kwan Yue. My first stint as a TV presenter was also with the restaurant!” exclaimed Debbie. One of Sandra Ng’s favorite is ox tongue stew. The dish is simmered in the chef’s self-made special sauce for hours until it is very tender, which explains why it has become the restaurant’s signature dish.

As far as Debbie could remember, her business idea flourished during an eating spree with the casting crew of ‘Age of Glory’ while in Malaysia. After having being abroad for so many years, she was surprised to see so many charming bungalow-turned restaurants in Imbi Road of Kuala Lumpur. “I find the idea brilliant. When I had an offer by a restaurateur, I decided to give it a try as long as the venue is nice and the cost is reasonable. I immediately called up my friends in Hong Kong to have a
partnership,’’ Debbie recounted. Away from the limelight, Debbie Goh is a proud restaurateur What prompted her to bring Indonesian cuisine over to Malaysia was Malaysia’s diverse cultural influences and exquisite tastes represented by the country. “I also like the bungalow-concept restaurant as it’s cozy and trendy. When we started, I was doing the social marketing and restaurant decoration, while my partners were stocking kitchen ware and designing the menu,” added Debbie.
To Debbie, the restaurant means more than a mere eatery; it is also a place to hang out with friends and family. “I rarely came home when I was in the Hong Kong show business. So the restaurant is like a home where my mum sometimes stops by to look over things for me. There are times we go to market together and discuss new recipes. In this way, we spend more time with each other and our relationship has gotten closer,” explained Debbie.

Running around the market just to get onions
Like any self-starting entrepreneur, Debbie experienced some setbacks in her early business, especially as a lady in a male-dominated industry. “Initially I had difficulty sourcing for authentic and quality Indonesian ingredients to prepare the menu, such as black soy sauce and non-cholesterol coconut milk to retain the exquisite taste of Indonesian cuisine. There was even a time when these two ingredients were out of stock following a mounting unrest in Indonesia.
I went from one market to another along with the chefs and became familiar with markets around Pudu, Chow Kit and Tesco. I also have to look into every small detail involving a special event to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” added Debbie. With her tight showbiz and business commitments, Debbie hardly finds time for acting and had even stopped her career as an actress for half a year to manage the restaurant. But with the assistance of her family, Debbie now gets to take up acting roles occasionally.

“I think being an actress gives me the advantage of advertising the restaurant more openly through word-of-mouth and the mass media. But a customer’s single bad experience with the restaurant can
also ruin my good reputation instantly. I am especially grateful to see people coming back again for the great dining experience they had at my restaurant!’’ said Debbie with a smile.

At this point of time, Debbie seems to be enjoying the fruits of her labour. She would make time to sample food at different restaurants with her staff and chefs to improve on her restaurant’s menu. Besides, she also takes up some acting roles. Recently back from a casting in Mongolia, she is full of incredible enthusiasm and energy and is all set for the TV Drama ‘The Descendant’ in Malaysia. Or, she rests whenever she feels like it.

Whichever way, she is able to take full charge of her life, despite the uncertainties and obstacles at differentstages of her life in the past.



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