This week on Community Stories, meet the Kongs and visit their popular Italian restaurant. When Malaysian-born, Chinese-American David Kong arrived in the United States, he apprenticed to a great Italian chef in San Francisco. “The first year all I did was learn how to talk like an Italian, swear like an Italian, move my hands like an Italian, drink like an Italian, then—‘Davide, now you cook!’” recalls Kong. The food, wine and culture entered Kong’s heart and there was no other life for him other than running an Italian restaurant. “There are still a lot of people who say, ‘Why do you cook Italian?’ Why don’t you cook wonton soup?’ I say, ‘I don’t know how to cook wonton soup.’” Burmese-born, Chinese-American Lily Kong, David’s wife, says, “You don’t have to be Chinese to cook Chinese. If you are a good cook, you are a good cook. Why not?”
And thus was born the name for the Kong’s restaurant—Perché No?, which means “why not?” in Italian. First opened on Queen Anne in 1992, now located near Green Lake in Wallingford, the Kongs have been sharing their love of Italian food with Seattleites for nearly two decades. It has earned them a loyal clientele that is more like an extended family. Their two sons, Christopher and Alex, work in the restaurant too.
The Kongs built the Wallingford restaurant from the ground up. They brought over tile from Venice and paint from Bologna. Tragedy struck in February 2009 when a fire ruined their building. Community support helped them to reopen, however. This summer, they had a grand celebration of their third year at this new location. Lily says, “We are the happiest people in this town.”