Candle Nut Restaurant, which is occupying the former Saigon Bistro space in downtown Wilmington, is in the works for an expected summer opening. (Photo by Jessica Maurer)
After spending nearly 30 years abroad, Jeff Rickert and his wife, Novi, have settled in the Port City and are opening an Indonesian-Malaysian eatery called Candle Nut Restaurant, in the downtown space formerly occupied by Saigon Bistro.
Novi Rickert grew up in Suravaya, Indonesia, and as part of the culture, she spent much of her childhood learning to cook. Jeff spent the better part of his career working throughout Southeast Asia and enjoyed both the diversity and crossover he experienced in the region’s cuisine.
“Southeast Asian cooking is so rich in flavors from bold spices such as turmeric, ginger and star anise,” said Jeff Rickert. “And Indonesia has such intersection of cultural influences, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese just to name a few.”
The restaurant’s name comes from the candle nut, a nut from the same family as the macadamia nut, that is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking, often ground into a paste to use in curries and soups or sauces.
The Rickerts say customers can expect both vegetarian entrees as well as beef, lamb and chicken dishes and plenty of curries and soups at the 21 N. Front St. restaurant.
“Candle Nut will be very unique,” Rickert said. “I think there will be some crossover with other Asian restaurants, but I think people will find that it’s quite different than what’s being offered here in town.”
The restaurant is currently under renovation, with new paint, furniture and lighting planned to give the space a new look. Candle Nut Restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and is expected to open by early summer.
Have a tip for Restaurant Roundup? Email [email protected].