The Secret Garden Cafe in Woonona has expanded to put on an Asian fanfare of Peking duck and other delights by night, and selling out on its first weekend of trade.
It has been Jeni Sae-Yang's dream to open a restaurant, and bring to the masses the Chinese delights she's been serving her friends for years.
Her dream became a reality last week with her new venture, Duck In Heaven, selling out of her prized Peking Duk special on opening weekend at the back of the Bulli School of Arts on the Princes Highway.
"All my friends were saying, 'Why don't you open a restaurant?' but I never really thought I could," Jeni admitted.
"But I saw a Facebook ad with someone having a cafe ... and they were wanting someone to just share the space and just share the rent."
It was love at first sight after inspecting the cafe at the back of the School of Arts hall, filling her with hopes and dreams.
The Duck In Heaven menu includes duck pancakes, crispy duck spring rolls, Chinese barbecue pork. fluffy bao buns, among other delights.
According to Jeni, it's all "homemade" Asian food but with a "healthy twist and no MSG".
But the stellar cook wasn't always fond of dishing up cuisine from her own culture until her offspring pushed her to.
"I grew up eating barbecues and prawns, the 'Aussie feast', burgers and all that ... but when I had my own kids, it was actually them who took an interest in my culture so I became more involved in showing them Chinese food," Jeni said.
"I would cook for all of our friends and other mums from the school and I became like this designated cook every weekend. For example, my daughter's birthday last year, she invited 20 of her friends and I made 2000 dumplings."
It's still early days and Jeni continues to perfect her dishes to continue her sell-out success, but the entrepreneur is excited to share her culture beyond her family and to the rest of Wollongong.
Duck In Heaven is available Wednesday to Sunday evenings, and Sunday lunch, via Menulog, or in-store at the back of 479 Princes Highway in Woonona.
Find it on Facebook HERE.
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