Korean meets Japanese at Cho Won

A collection of four-leaf clovers and more-leafed clovers express good luck wishes for Soon Bouffard.

She opened the Cho Won Grill next to Safeway.

“I’m happy, although I’m working hard,” she said.

She spent days shopping for quality supplies and then preparing ingredients to greet her first customers Tuesday.

“Even happiness is stress,” she said.

Bouffard bought the restaurant from Yuriko Erwin, who ran it since 2000 as the Teriyaki Express. Erwin left her collection of lucky clover leaves displayed on the counter to wish Bouffard success.

Bouffard’s dream was opening her own eatery. And now she plans to give the customers the best of two worlds. Cho Won’s menu features her own Korean specialties along with popular Japanese items from Erwin’s menu.

Bouffard grew up in Korea and knows traditional dishes thanks to her mother’s training.

“My mom was a good cook,” Bouffard said.

For 13 years, Bouffard cooked at the Arirang Garden Korean Restaurant on Goldie Road. But nagging the back of her mind was the notion of opening her own business. Then she injured her knee and was forced to take time out to recover.

Bouffard had mentioned to Erwin that she might be interested in buying the Teriyaki Express when she was ready to sell.

Erwin had purchased the Teriyaki restaurant from the previous owners after working for them 12 years or more. She owned the restaurant for five years.

“It was a long time to cook for everyone,” Erwin said.

She decided it was time to retire and called Bouffard to see if she was still interested. All healed, Bouffard was ready for action.

“I’m not a sit-around person. I like to get out and do things,” she said.

Most of all, she enjoys meeting new people and hearing about their enjoyment of her food.

Cho Won Grill is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Food can be eaten in or to take out. The restaurant can seat about 22 people.

The menu is geared toward lunch and dinner crowds, but with people’s busy schedules lunch sometimes is eaten at 2 or 3 p.m., she said.

The yaki mandu plate at $5.75 is the cheapest meal on the menu. The most expensive is deep fried shrimp, pork and fish at $9.25. In addition, kimchi, miso soup, and yak mandu number among a choice of single items or side dishes.

Bouffard plans to do most of the cooking herself, except for help from an assistant cook and staff to work the counter and tables.

“I want to make it the best I can and satisfy people by buying good quality food and keep them coming back as customers,” Bouffard said.

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