Irene Khin Wong, Please Open a Restaurant!
After the demise of Road to Mandalay I became friendly with one of Irene's brothers, who was a fellow computer programmer where I was working. When I was planning a trip to Vietnam in the mid-90s he told me that Irene was living in Saigon at the time. He gave me her contact info, and she graciously invited me to tea at her home in an upscale section of the city. Irene spent three years in Vietnam, where she worked as a culinary consultant and traveled around Southeast Asia picking up recipes and techniques. I met her toward the end of her stay.
When Irene returned to the states she started a catering business rather than another restaurant. With Saffron 59 she is now one of the most successful Asian caterers in New York, specializing in food from all over Southeast Asia. Her recipes have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Food Arts, and New York Magazine. Her clients have included major corporations, the Clintons, Donald Trump and Annie Leibovitz.
I'm sure she doesn't miss the headaches of day-to-day restaurant operation, but surely catering is similarly stressful. I really wish Irene would consider opening another restaurant. If she did, I suspect, given her current reputation, it would be considerably more high-end than Road to Mandalay. I could live with that.