Archive for August, 2009
A few random observations and experiences from today.
This week we have had predominantly guys eating lunch. Over 80% of the lunch crowd are male. Except today when all of a sudden it became 70% female.
Instead of a jam-packed lunch session, we had a steady trickle of customers.
Putting chairs out immediately after the main lunch period ended extended our carry-over business by another hour and a half.
2 food reviewers that had come to taste the food returned tonight with their friends for omakase. That has to be a good sign.
When people drink sake they get much more forward and funny. It’s nice.
Two colleagues from an office upstairs at OUB came in and drank a bottle of Seikyo Maboroshi Jyunmai. They randomly asked if I was single and then decided that they will return next week with one of their female friends that (in their words) is a “perfect match.” Note: they just met me.
We had our first spilled bowl of soup today. I am amazed it took more than a week before an accident like that happened.
People like to customize take-away boxes even though they could get the pre-packaged takeaway for cheaper.
Everyone eats salmon. To the point where we ran out. Good thing more will be flown in tomorrow.
Oh yeah, props to the couple that enjoyed the 8 course omakase… while standing the whole time! All the seats were taken but that didn’t stop them from eating. Trendsetters!
Time for a shower and hopefully deep dream-filled sleep.
During opening week it was a pleasant surprise to get various “Congratulations!” bouquets and messages. I’d be standing in the restaurant and all of a sudden flowers would show up. This must be what a girl being wooed feels like.
Bright yellow flowers, roses, trumpet-looking petals, all kinds of floral arrangements! One of the bouquets even had apples.
Earlier this week, one of the most bizarre opening day presents showed up. Courtesy of “Shantika Industries.”
I have to applaud Shan and Tika for their creativity.
Speaking of Shan, here he is at Standing Sushi Bar along with Shane (one of his repeat visits).
The restaurant has been open a week now. After I get some sleep I’d like to write down my thoughts on how it went. Let’s just say I am 3 kg lighter now.
Everyone, eat sushi!
It has been a hectic couple days. I’m about to head to SSB for Day 3 but was just browsing through some of the pictures from our opening day.
Coral and I. She’s been an instrumental part in all of this… from early February when we were watching TV and she asked me, “Whatever happened to your sushi bar idea? Maybe you should look for available spaces again.” Now she’s the manager!
Sakae Sushi is across the hall from us. I chatted with their manager, Doreen, and took her on a tour of Standing Sushi Bar. We have stuff they don’t have, they have stuff we don’t have. We shall do customer exchange and make OUB Centre the new sushi haven!
Rayne is camera shy. I had to snap this one when he turned his head back. He was probably thinking, “As the owner, do you want to take my picture or do you want me to prepare the fish so that we can actually have something for the customers to eat?”
A few of our lovely staff: Nicolette, Taryn, and Charlene. Don’t they just want to make you smile? I have no idea why but every time I say anything to Charlene, she bursts out laughing. Even if it’s along the lines of, “One of you has to play dishwasher for the day since our machine isn’t usable yet.” On a sidenote, Nicolette, Taryn, Roy and Coral have tattoos. This was apparently an unspoken job requirement I was looking for.
Our crew went out to pass out some flyers 30 minutes before opening. This nice young lady got one of the flyers, said she wanted some lunch, and asked if she could eat now. So yes… our first customer was 10 minutes before official opening time. That is a good sign! Thank you Elizabeth for being the first brave soul to eat at Standing Sushi Bar! (though technically I think she got customized take-away so she didn’t eat it there…)
Look at how relaxed people are while they are standing and eating. (on a sidenote, I was looking at the line of people outside Sakae yesterday and thinking to myself that the amount of time they’re standing in line to wait to get a seat, they could be standing and eating already…)
And that, friends and neighbors, was day 1.
It’s finally here. Opening day! The lack of sleep and frenetic work that has defined the past couple weeks has left me in a state of mind where I can’t quite believe what’s happening.
It was a little over a year ago when I was in Tokyo and went to my first standing sushi bar (Uogashi Nihon-Ichi). I had been in Japan for about a week, eating my way around Nagoya, Shirakawa, and Tokyo when I chanced upon this eatery in Shibuya. A couple blocks past the world’s busiest Starbucks and along the same street as a Mcdonalds.
A friend of mine was just in Tokyo and went to the exact same sushi bar. I hadn’t taken photos of it so was very pleased she sent these to me.
There are a lot of reasons why this sushi bar resonated with me. I’ve been laying here in bed thinking about that April. It was a nice time, I was with a nice girl, and I love sushi.
5:50 in the morning. Went to sleep a little past midnight and woke up at 3 am. Maybe it’s from the jet lag… a week in Seattle trying to adjust to Pacific time only managed to screw up my internal body clock now that I’m back in Singapore. I don’t think it’s the jet lag though, I think it’s the sushi bar.
After a month of delays, we’re FINALLY looking at an opening date. It was going to be August 20, but amusingly enough, that falls on the first day of the 7th month. Hungry Ghost Festival. Singapore is still a land of traditions and customs, and belief is that opening a new business (particularly F&B) during the 7th month is a bad, bad thing to do.
Okay. I’m not one for such practices but the folks dining at the restaurant may be. I received many unsolicited comments today about the dangers of the August 20 opening date that I’m convinced we need to open on August 19.
There is a lot to do in the next 36 hours. Top on the list – get that food shop license! Without the license my restaurant is just a showroom for people to admire. We passed the inspection last week, but I still need to submit some paperwork. Spent 2 hours today at their office waiting in line only to be told that I need a copy of Kawa-san’s (our Japanese chef) employment pass. This wasn’t listed on the items that are required for submission. So it’s back to the NEA I go later this morning.
What else… we need to contact all the suppliers we have earmarked to order our fish and foodstuffs from. Then pray that they’re able to live up to what they say in terms of delivery times. Quality we’ve already determined, but when dealing with things like fresh fish and air cargo you never know when things get held up through customs.
Random photo of one of my favorite actresses – Zooey Deschanel. I love you. Come stand and eat at my sushi bar if you’re ever here in Singapore. You’ll enjoy it. We will eat salmon nigiri and drink cold sake together. Wait, are you vegetarian?
At some point I need to buy a ton of Coke, 7 Up, and Ice Green Tea. And their “Light” versions.
The Point-of-Sale people will come later today to finish the installation of the machines and hook it up to the computer system. It would be difficult to actually earn money on this venture if I’m unable to take cash and credit cards.
Uniforms and shirts are arriving today. I hope they fit.
Construction hoarding needs to be removed tonight and touch-up work inside the shop needs to be completed.
The take-away people weren’t able to complete our bags on time so I need to figure out what to do for a temporary solution.
No one knows how to use the credit card machine.
The chefs have been discussing all the specials and customizations we can do. True beauty of a sushi bar… every piece you order can be customized. Just talk to the chef since he’s right in front of you. This is leading to minor havoc with creating a static menu. Where do we list the items that we’ll have daily? Where will we put the frequent specials and seasonal items? All of this needs to get written on the glass boards. Our printed menus keep changing.
Only one person knows how to operate the dishwasher. (So far – and by operate I mean adjust all the cleaning solutions that have to be poured into the machine so it can work its magic… cleans dishes in only 2 minutes!)
Kitchen equipment people are coming later today to collect a big fat check from me.
We need to buy more paper towels, sponges, and cleaning supplies. Keeping the restaurant clean eats through these materials with a quickness. (I love that line – ‘with a quickness’ – it was from Herbert Kornfeld’s column in The Onion… go read it).
I need to buy a first aid kit in case someone impales themselves on one of our sushi knives.
Printing out flyers for opening day would be a good thing to do. Arranging someone to distribute them would also help.
Similar to the menu, we need to finalize the ordering sheet which is what the chefs will use to keep track of who ordered what.
Did I mention I need to buy a safe? And re-confirm it fits in the space I want to put it.
The illustrator who is decorating our long wall is a little behind. Need to figure out when he can put his work up. I’m excited to see what he’s going to unveil.
I need to fill out the extra insurance paperwork and submit a cheque.
Tonight and tomorrow morning we’ll continue with staff training.
People keep telling me to prepare a press kit. Need to organize some photographs of our food, the interior, bios of the chefs, concept, menu, etc.
Figure out what the heck this bill I got from some Australian bank is about… I think it’s the link for American Express when they credit my account for card transactions. But we had negotiated no setup cost…
It’s time to submit salaries and use the CPF system soon. The directions are confusing.
Enough procrastinating. Might as well start the day. I don’t think I’ll fall back asleep.
I am looking forward to a donut from Donut Empire (across from my sushi restaurant).
5 years old, fumbling with chopsticks pushing a California roll around the plate. The words of all mothers, “Just eat it, you will like it.” Shishkebab’d my first sushi to pick it up.
I moved to Florida, years passed, mom passed, and I didn’t eat sushi.
At university in DC I found a restaurant near Rosslyn metro stop. My first sushi buffet! What a joyous discovery. Every weekend I’d suggest eating there but the 15 dollar cost was steep for college kids. I’d go alone, bring a book, and eat sushi.
My first year in Seattle I met a girl, we hit it off, and I asked her on a date. Sushi is a good first date. A little adventurous, lightly filling, no mess!
Flying back to Singapore in a few hours. My sushi bar opens this week.
I have been outside for a total of 3 minutes in the past 4 days. Outdoors time = hotel door to taxi + taxi door to office + office to taxi + taxi door to hotel.
When fishermen catch a tuna, they try to minimize the tuna’s exposure to air. It keeps the meat as fresh as possible.
In my case, I will just develop a Vitamin D deficiency.
Just because I’m in the US doesn’t mean more sushi haikus aren’t going up on the hoardings! Well, that is if the manager Coral is putting them up. We had a temporary National Day sushi appreciation poster.
Pink marbled tuna
Sunshine orange ikura
Pearl white hamachi
Come, taste our sake
Shimmery pink salmon or
A glass of rice wine
At night I drink beer
Sake, shochu, yuzu too
And enjoy sushi
What else can be more
Than sushi, my friend
Did you know in the span of a year, a tuna can swim back-and-forth across the Pacific Ocean multiple times?
I, however, take one plane trip from Singapore to Seattle and am left feeling dazed and battered. Similar to fish after they’re caught, spending 17 hours in a freezing metal tube jam-packed with other people is soul-crushing.
So here I am in the Pacific Northwest. Needed to come for my regular corporate job.
With about 9 days until the opening of the sushi bar, thoughts of fish, restaurant management, and all-things-related are dominating my mind. I wish I could run off to the quieter parts of Washington state, sit in the sun, and watch salmon skipping upstream.
Being here in Seattle could be good. I suppose it’s important for me to get used to delegation and letting the sushi bar’s manager deal with issues.
I have to admit slight disappointment. I liken it to running a 4 x 100 relay. I’ve carried the baton the first 3 legs and right before the finish I pass it off rather than seeing it all the way through.
As much as I can, I don’t want the sushi bar to interfere with my regular job. I’d feel bad if I slacked so… here I am. Haha, I also need the money from work to fund this little sushi dream.
Every day I stand
Dreaming of sushi rainbows
Fed on rice and fish
Body like green fields and streams
Slender as a reed
And here’s a random photo of salmon nigiri…