Faces of Tamworth: Wongs bring Chinese cuisine to Tamworth

The Wongs were the first family to bring Chinese cuisine to Tamworth when they moved to the city 35 years ago.

Since, Peter and Jane Wong have spent their lives serving up countless dishes of traditional Chinese food across their much-loved restaurants.  

In January this year, the couple served up their final meal at their last restaurant, Lantern Chinese in Tamworth Square.

We’re re-visting their story as part of our Faces of Tamworth campaign.

FINAL SERVE: Peter and Jane Wong have closed their last restaurant after trading for 35 years in Tamworth.

FINAL SERVE: Peter and Jane Wong have closed their last restaurant after trading for 35 years in Tamworth.

THE only thing that the Wongs knew about Tamworth when they moved here 35 years ago was that their car had broken down there.

Not once, but three times. 

It was by chance when they were sitting in the gutter waiting for a mechanic for the third time in the same spot that they first ventured into Tamworth Square.

The couple, from Hong Kong who were living in Maitland at the time, noticed a vacant store. And the rest is history.

Peter and Jane Wong have operated Chinese restaurants in Tamworth for an unrivalled 35 years. 

In January this year, the couple served up their final meal at their last restaurant, Lantern Chinese in Tamworth Square.

Both Peter and Jane are from Hong Kong, but met in Cairns when she was visiting family and he was travelling with friends.

The couple moved to Newcastle and Maitland, where they worked in the catering industry. 

“We were always going for drives up through Singleton and Muswellbrook,” Mrs Wong said.

“Then our car broke down out the front of Coles in Tamworth. 

“You can’t believe it, but it died three times here. Every time we come here it dies.

“We were sitting in the gutter waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be fixed, so we came inside and saw a vacant shop.

“I talked to the agent, said, ‘this vacant shop, how much?’”

So in 1982, the couple opened Lantern Snack Bar in what was then Kmart Plaza Tamworth.

“We started with fish and chips, and then we thought we’d try some Chinese things and see how it goes,” Mrs Wong said.

“We were one of the first Chinese restaurants here.”

The couple had that business until 1999, but also opened Treasure Pot at Tamworth Shoppingworld in 1994. 

Six years later, they sold Treasure Pot and moved back into the same centre where it all started to open Lantern Chinese at Tamworth Square – just metres away from where Lantern Snack Bar was nearly four decades ago.

Since, the Wongs have been serving up Chinese meals six days a week. 

“Our black bean and honey chicken are most popular,” Mrs Wong said.

“We get a lot of good compliment. 

“And our fried rice, people have to wait for it.”

The couple, with three adult daughters, plan on going on a long holiday.

They say it’s the people they’ll miss most.

“We’ll probably take a really long break, but we’ll be back,” Mrs Wong said.

How you can nominate someone for The Northern Daily Leader's Faces of Tamworth campaign

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