Voices Discovered: Tu and Todd Sen

If you’ve ever been to 98 Asian Bistro, then you know all there is to love at this upscale Asian fusion eatery! Whether it’s the interior, the cocktails, or the delicious food (how can you beat Pad Thai??), 98 Asian Bistro is definitely one of our favorite High Point dining experiences.

But what you might not know about 98 Asian Bistro are the faces behind the restaurant. Tu and Todd Sen, husband and wife owners of 98 Asian Bistro have operated their restaurant “brainchild” for the last four years. They’ve been in the restaurant business, however, for more than 17 years. The restaurant, named in honor of Tu’s father, Lysak who passed away in 1998, combines many of Tu and Todd’s passions, including contributing to the High Point community.

We had the chance to sit with Tu to hear some of her and her family’s story, sharing what inspires 98 Asian Bistro and seeing the commitment and passion that led her to being named High Point Businesswoman of the Year in 2016.

Q. How did you wind up in the restaurant industry?

A. When I (Tu) arrived in the area in 1993, I had a 5-month-old daughter and needed a job quickly. I was only able to find work in Chinese restaurants.

Tu of 98 Asian Bistro | Photo by ZoZo Photography

Q. What type of career would you have in an alternate universe?

A. I think I would be a clothing designer as I really enjoy good design and clothes, or I would work for a charity as I like helping people.

Q. What do you wish you knew when first starting that you know now?

A. I wish I had a better understanding of accounting!

Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

A. My struggle to get to where I am today often surprises people. There are parts of the story which I don’t share with many people, but leaving my home country where I had been housed in a camp for refugees and arriving in the states was overwhelming. Living in a country where I didn’t know the language, the culture, etc. was a struggle. Of course, being an immigrant in a foreign country is tough to begin with as well. I will share more as time goes along, and I have chances to share my stories.

98 Asian Bistro | Photo by ZoZo Photography

Q. What motivates you?

A. Mostly the people that I serve daily at the bistro. I have been so blessed by the people of High Point and the surrounding areas and it means so much to me. I get up every morning ready to bring delicious food along with my staff to our customers.

Q. Best career advice you have ever received?

A. Believe in yourself.

98 Asian Bistro | Photo by ZoZo Photography

Q. Favorite book?

A. I really don’t have a favorite book.

Q. Best vacation you have taken?

A. I don’t really take many vacations. I do enjoy “staycations” at home. Usually at home with our dogs and meditating in my Buddha House at my home.

98 Asian Bistro | Photo by ZoZo Photography

Q. Where will we find you on a Sunday afternoon?

A. At home cuddled up with my pups or in the backyard in the Buddha House.

Q. Your go-to cocktail (or mocktail)?

A. 1942 Tequila

98 Asian Bistro | Photo by ZoZo Photography

Q. What makes you truly happy?

A. Taking time for prayer.

Q. As you know, HPU is right here with incredible students looking to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. What three pieces of advice would you give them?

A. Always believe in yourself. Work hard. Never give up.

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Q. Where do you like to grab a cup of coffee?

A. I usually have coffee early in the morning. My coffee is made every morning for me by my handsome husband Todd and brought to me in bed. He has done this for over 20 years.

Q. Restaurant you can’t get enough of?

A. I really enjoy Fixins!

Q. Local shop you think is doing everything right?

A. Monkee’s of High Point! Love the shop and the staff.

Q. Where do you go to unplug?

A. I typically unplug at home or in the office here at the bistro.

Q. Favorite place to grab a drink?

A. Tipsy’z is always a go-to!

Q. Excluding yours, what High Point company or business do you admire the most?

A. Fixin’s. They remind me very much of Todd and I when we first came to High Point. A young couple who took a risk on High Point — moved across country with their young family to create a life for themselves. They have such a great menu, attitude and want to be successful, and I admire that.

Q. Where would you tell a first-time visitor to High Point to go and why?

A. I would suggest that they go visit the High Point Chamber of Commerce and Visit High Point located on Main Street. There are so many great resources there for new arrivals to the area. The staff is so helpful there as well.

Voices Discovered is a series where High Point Discovered asks questions to High Point business leaders and entrepreneurs to share their view. Consider it a peek into the heart and soul of our local businesses. We hope you will be inspired to investigate more. Past guests have included Dr. Lee Bass Nunn, DDS and Benji Morris.

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