from home staples to CHAIN SUCCESS

In Business Sense, Cooking for the masses, Vol. 19

The demand of modern living has resulted in many of us dining out. Yet, the majority do not spend much on food and often seek staples. Restaurateurs in Asia tapped into this segment and have successfully made a name for themselves by running on a chain concept.


The staple falafel (chickpea balls) is interpreted and infused with elements of different cuisines such as Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Greek, British and American. Positioned as Mediterranean street food, JF Street Food now has 46 stores under its chain in 11 countries with franchises in the US, Australia, Canada, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Turkey, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom.


Zhen Gongfu or translated “Real Kung Fu”is China’s major restaurant chain selling quick service items of Cantonese food. It sets itself apart by marketing their food as healthy because most are steamed or boiled compared to other fast food options that are deemed unhealthy. As of 2013, the company had 479 restaurants all over China.


There is a Super Super at almost each district to provide hearty noodles and congee in quick time. Operating on a fast food model, it selects to operate near MTR stations.With over 30 outlets around the island, it is particularly famous for its “Noodles with Shrimp Wonton”. Testament to its popularity was its record of serving an average of
1000 bowls per location.


Maxim’s MX is another successful Hong Kong Chinese fast food chain, growing to around 60 outlets since its first outlet in 1972. It serves complete meals of rice / noodles with various kind of meats, quick breakfast meals, Chinese homestyled dishes, Western-Asian fusions and dim sum. It is popular with urbanites for its fair prices and wide selections.


In India, the word “hotel” often means a restaurant instead of an accomodation. Originating from Southern India, its founder P. Rajagopal intended to bridge the gap in the area of vegetarian food. Opening its first outlet in 1981, it has become one of the largest vegetarian restaurant chains in the world. It has 47 outlets around the world (including Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the United States, and the Middle East) and 33 outlets in India.


“Ayam Penyet” is loosely translated to “smashed chicken” where the chicken or beef is smashed with the pestle against mortar to make it softer. Originating from East Java, the meat is accompanied by rice, sambal, fresh vegetables, fried beancurd and tempeh. Ayam Penyet Ria started in Indonesia and its popularity crossed into neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore. It is also available in Hong Kong and Australia.


Founded by Eikichi Matsuda in 1899 with the aim to provide “tasty, low-priced, and quick” food, its pork / beef and rice in a bowl (gyudon) come with raw eggs or soft-boiled eggs, pickles and miso soup. Today, Yoshinoya can be found in USA, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.


Founder, Kwon Won Kang combined “kyo” (wisdom) and “chon” (village) to remind diners of their hometown when enjoying fried chicken in traditional Korean flavours. It emphasises on freshness by not using frozen chicken and is healthy by frying in Canola oil, uses no MSG and is low in sodium. From its first outlet in 1991, KyoChon is now present in Korea, China, USA, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Japan with a total of 1,000 plus stores.


Malaysia’s favourite hawker delights such as nasi lemak, char kway teow, curry mee, chicken rice come under one roof. It also serves Western fare, dim sum and variations of bread alongside the regular coffee and teas and creative interpretations of classics. Part chain and part franchise, there are over 80 stores around Malaysia and an international presence in Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand,Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and USA.


The diverse Malaysian culture combined with Kwan Swee Lian’s love for food led to the opening of Madam Kwan’s, where Malaysian cuisine from the hawker or streets are enjoyed in a cafe-style restaurant. From the signature Nasi Lemak to “wok” style Hokkien mee served quick-service style, the iconic motherly figure can be found at 7 locations in Kuala Lumpur and 1 in Singapore.


Its founder Ah Koon served hot coffee, boiled eggs and charcoal grilled toast as staple morning nourishment for decades, successfully laying the foundation for more than 50 outlets in Singapore. Ya Kun is available in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and The Philippines. Its menu has expanded to include more beverages, bread, Asian signature items and snacks.


The first Thai-owned coffee retail company, Black Canyon is recognised for its specialty brews and food. It serves a good mix of local Thai comfort food like Tom Yum Kung, Pad- Thai, together with chicken green curry and spicy salads and oriental dishes like rice and noodles. The menu expands to include Western, Fusion, bakery items and also gelato.


Pho is basically a bowl consisting of clear broth, rice noodles, beef or chicken and topped with fresh herbs like vietnamese basil and coriander before finishing it off with a squeeze of lime. You can find it at almost any corner on Vietnam’s streets but PHO24 is taking it further. There are PHO24 outlets in Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea and Australia.

Eileen Chanfrom home staples to CHAIN SUCCESS