Tim and Junko – Tu Meke Don
New Zealand meets Japan in Ocean Boulevard.
Tim and Junko own Tu Meke Don, a Japanese/Kiwi fusion sushi bar in Ocean Boulevard. The name is also a cross-cultural mashup as Tim explains.
“Tu Meke means ‘choice’, No.1, excellent in Maori and Don is short for Donburi, a Japanese rice bowl meal. It’s a nod to both cultures.”
The couple are relatively new to Napier, having moved here from Gisborne in 2011. “When we moved to Napier we both worked at a sushi bar in Ocean Boulevard. In 2012 they closed the doors so we seized the opportunity to buy the business, renaming it to Tu Meke Don. We are now celebrating our fifth anniversary!” explains Tim.
The food at Tu Meke Don is Japanese, with a Kiwi twist. Traditional sushi dishes sit next to “western style” sushi made from combinations of chicken and avocado, teriyaki chicken and brown rice, or Karaage (deep-fried) chicken and Japanese mayonnaise.
“Our most popular dish is the Karaage chicken, rice burger and Japanese curry. We love coming to work and making our own special Japanese-Kiwi food. We make our food with love and it makes people happy. Simple,” adds Tim.
A love story
Tim and Junko clearly love their work and together have forged great relationships with their customers, many of whom they now consider friends. The couple’s own relationship is a true fairytale, one that started with a chance meeting in Gisborne more than a decade ago.
Yokohama-born Junko was in the final two months of her New Zealand working holiday when she travelled to Gisborne for an apple picking job on the orchard that Tim managed.
“It was love at first sight,” says Junko. On my first morning on the job I was introduced to Tim and immediately fell in love. I’d never met anyone like him. And there was something about his sparkly eyes!” laughs Junko.
Like many Kiwi men, Tim was a little slow to take the hint that there was love in the air. With only two weeks left in New Zealand and a one-way ticket booked to Fiji, Junko knew she had to make her feelings clear.
“I got as far as Auckland airport ready to fly out to Fiji before I had a change of heart and drove back to Gisborne. There was unfinished business with Tim.”
Having confessed her feelings to Tim in a letter, Junko was delighted when his feelings were reciprocated sealed with Tim proposing just a week later. However celebrations were short-lived as Junko’s visa had expired and she had to return home to Japan.
For 12 months the couple endured a long distance relationship, and in 2005, Junko returned to Gisborne to marry Tim on the orchard where they’d first met.
Fast forward to 2017 and Junko and Tim are expecting the arrival of their first child, a son later in the year.
We are foodies and love eating from all different places in Napier’s CBD. Our favourites are the eggs Benedict from St Germain, fish in the bag from Mister D, pizza from Emporium and the salads from Hapi. We also love coffee at Georgia and a cool gelato from Gelato 2 U on Marine Parade.
Napier is a wonderful place to live, especially in the summer. There are great eateries, the people are really friendly and with such a wonderful working community, who wouldn’t want to live here?
When we’re not working…
Junko and I love taking walks on the beach and chilling out on Marine Parade. We sometimes go to the Napier Municipal Theatre for date night and enjoy exploring our Art Deco city.
P: 06-835 5457
Words by Sarah Cameron – www.sarahcameron.co.nz
Photo by Alice Lee