PICTURED: Chef Ren Weigang at Pacific by NoRu. Photograph submitted
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
2 times-cooked pork belly with butter-braised spring onions and Yakiniku barbecue, topped with toddler arugula and micro greens and dressed with aged sherry.
Pacific by NoRu will take its title from its two founders — James Norton and Ren Weigang, affectionately known as “Ru” by mates — and their shared like of the sea. Hailing from Ventura and Hawaii, respectively, the two achieved as teenage browsing enthusiasts in Ventura, and swiftly bonded above waves and food items that were being equally delicious. Irrespective of decades of travel and unique activities, they stayed close, and at some point opened their upscale bistro in Downtown Ventura in late 2018. The menu reflects the culinary range located on both sides of the Pacific Ocean: refreshing, local, natural and organic components, for which Ventura County is well-known, prepared in a distinct model reminiscent of the two California delicacies and Hawaiin fusion.
Weigang is also the chef, who worked in culinary sizzling places such as the Significant Island, Napa Valley and France in advance of moving to Ventura County. Like many meals market specialists, his like of cooking begun shut to residence, with his Italian grandfather, William Santo.
“Those are my very first good reminiscences of cooking . . . cooking his pastas,” Weigang recalls.
Weigang very first began functioning in restaurants all over Hawaii, “and I just began having excellent at it . . . and doors begun opening.”
The vacation resort market was his proving ground, supplying him access to top quality elements and kitchens that authorized him to check out and invent, as perfectly as a in depth culinary education: He had the possibility to check out his hand at cuisines from all in excess of the planet. In addition, he served start a couple of different Japanese places to eat in Hawaii — a time of Weigang’s everyday living that he describes as “exciting.”
“I’m comfy in most cuisines since of the resorts,” he claims. But Japanese food items, in distinct, is his passion. “Coming from Hawaii, I’m very self-assured with Japanese components. I enjoy Japanese food.”
Weigang first arrived to Ventura County in the 1990s to do the job at the Ojai Valley Inn. Later on he labored at non-public state clubs and went to culinary university at the Culinary Institute of The united states. He moved back to Hawaii when he got married, and re-immersed himself in the worthwhile vacation resort scene. Following acquiring divorced, he moved again to California, exactly where he reconnected with Norton. The two cooked up their cafe plan above a glass of wine at Weigang’s eating desk.
“Our concentration is putting out fantastic farm-to-desk foodstuff,” he suggests of the Pacific by NoRu thought. “Trying to use the ideal good quality merchandise with a Pacific Island aptitude. It is a blend of distinctive cuisines it’s evolving.”
Weigang’s personalized journey is mirrored in each facet of the Pacifc by NoRu menu. Japanese offerings incorporate yuzu/miso hen kabobs and gyoza. There are Hawaiian specifications like kalua pork and poke. Do-it-yourself tagliatelle, gnocchi and risotto are nods to Weigang’s Italian heritage. There’s also a fantastic Kobe beef burger and fabulous flatbreads. All dishes are organized applying seasonal deliver and other components picked at the peak of flavor and freshness, and plated with an artist’s interest to detail and aesthetics.
The cocktail menu is set with each other with the same care and flair. Weigang credits bartender De Lonne Kelly with crafting Pacific by NoRu’s famously magnificent libations, produced with household-infused spirits, fresh new juice and major-shelf liquor. “He’s quite innovative,” Weigang suggests of Kelly. “I’ll bring in diverse components and he will come up with some entertaining matters.”
Delivering haute fusion cuisine doesn’t occur low-cost, and the restaurant’s rate issue attests to that — which has proved difficult in Ventura.
“Ventura is a challenging city,” Weigang clarifies. “There aren’t way too lots of increased-conclude restaurants. It’s not like LA or Santa Barbara . . . We really do not have the clientele for it.”
But Weigang and Norton have preserved their commitment to providing an fantastic culinary encounter. They chose a great place with a scaled-down footprint (the place around the corner of Oak and Primary streets is lengthy, skinny and not overly roomy) that did not want a great deal in the way of building, and ended up constantly prudent about crowd command (even pre-pandemic): progress reservations had been required to stay away from a prolonged hold out.
In Weigang’s check out, the rates on the menu should really be justified by exceptionally organized and offered food with flawless services in a at ease ambiance in which to savor every chunk and sip. And that meant not overpowering the kitchen area or the waitstaff, which might sacrifice the high quality of any a single of these aspects.
“We want anyone to have a superior working experience,” he insists. “When you arrive into a cafe, you want to truly feel like it’s worth shelling out for it, and that you’re joyful that you experienced that meal.”
In the course of the pandemic, Pacific by NoRu primarily shutdown completely. There was an hard work to offer takeout early on, but that was abandoned for merely shutting the doorways right up until occasions were far better. As initially outdoor and then indoor dining have opened back up, Pacific by NoRu is beginning to see its regulars trickling again in, as well as new diners searching for upscale cuisine.
“I experience like absolutely everyone is seeking to get back to mingling (properly) once again. Some of our more mature clientele has been coming back,” Weigang claims. “Finally we’re rehiring. Our reliable crew [including Kelly and chef de cuisine Kyle Kranjack] arrived back again and we’re receiving busier to where by we have to use new persons.”
And as Weigang details out, no cafe can endure without responsible workers and prospects.
“I firmly think that a restaurant is not just a chef,” he claims. “It has to do with the prospects and what they want. It’s a partnership . . . It is my food stuff . . . and I see the vision . . . but the cafe doesn’t go devoid of an astounding group.”
“My most important intention,” Weigang proceeds, “is just to have a superior, steady, reliable cafe.”
Pacific by NoRu, 394 E. Major St., Ventura, 805-205-9618, pacificbynoru.com.