Posts filed under ‘Miscellaneous’
Hi all, Standing Sushi Bar at 8 Queen Street will be hosting a private birthday party tonight during dinner, so we will be closed to the general public.
Sorry for any inconvenience caused! We will be back to regular operating hours tomorrow. Have a good weekend!
An amusing thing just happened – a NEA officer came to our restaurant because someone reported we had cats in the restaurant. This was based on the previous blog entry which I had also posted on Facebook.
Two items I note from this:
1) I thought it was obvious that I was just being playful by posting these two cats up. They’re my cats living at home. In my kitchen. Not in the restaurant. I do not seriously have these cats trying out our fish before we serve the fish to customers. But hey, aren’t they cute cats?
2) On the positive side, I think it’s cool that the National Environmental Agency is so responsive. They received a complaint and followed up within 4 days (I posted it on October 13 so not sure when they actually received the complaint) by sending an inspector to the restaurant. That should make us all feel more secure about food safety and hygiene in Singapore.
Found this video online of a machine with a sensitive hand. Perhaps hand-made and machine-made will soon be the same thing.
I travel to the US regularly, mainly to Seattle, Orlando, and New York, and I make it a point to see what the various Japanese restaurants on this side of the ocean are like. You never know where your next good idea might come from! This week I’ve been in both New York and Orlando and have eaten at three sushi bars.
One observation is that the menus here are loaded with all kinds of fusion sushi rolls and significantly less traditional nigiri. I have a feeling that the diners are primarily ordering these rolls versus the straightforward nigiri or sashimi. I feel that’s the case as you can tell the fish quality is not good; it’s mushy and in the thawing process (frozen for a long time) the water has permeated the fish. So it ends up with a limp feel and bland taste. Which is unfortunate for the traditional sushi lover but if the majority of customers are ordering fusion sushi, then I can see why the restaurant would want to save money and invest in the rolls. Coated with sauce, deep fried, and full of garnish means that the fish taste is lost amongst all the ingredients.
Don’t get me wrong, I think fusion sushi rolls are fun and have been thinking about adding some to our menu. Maybe have an experimental period where people can send in suggestions.
There aren’t many Japanese restaurants in Singapore that offer up fusion sushi. The two that leap to mind would be Kinki and Sun and Moon. Any others?
Interesting guest post by Rocky Agrawal for TechCrunch with his thoughts on why GroupOn is poised for collapse.
“Imagine you’re a small business owner. You have to choose between two propositions:
- You can pay $62,500 for marketing. You’ll get a whole lot of customers coming through your door. No guarantees if they will ever come back, but they’ll come once.
- I’ll pay you $21,000. You get $7,000 in about 5 days, another $7,000 in 30 days and the remainder in 60 days. In exchange, you’ll give my customers cheap products for the next year.
I’ve been working on local for a long time and I know it’s hard to get small businesses to spend money on advertising. Really hard. Even getting $200 a month ($2,400 a year) is a high hurdle to meet.” – read the rest of his commentary
Hopefully (and if anyone cares, haha) when I get some more time I’ll write my thoughts and experience with GroupOn and the various daily deal sites. Singapore is saturated with them – over 20+ at my last count. There has got to be a shakeout happening soon… how many discounted spa deals do we really need flooding our inboxes?
I went to the different branches to put up this sign today:
“To our cherished diners,
We have suspended our usage of fish and food items from Japan due to the uncertainty of the supply. Our fresh ingredients are sourced from Australia, Norway,
Indonesia, and America.
Rest assured that food safety continues to be our top priority.
I suppose it’s not a surprise that business has been significantly impacted by what’s happening in Japan. I hope letting the public know where we are sourcing our food from assuages fears.
I have a feeling it won’t.
As a lighter moment to the previous entry, a friend just sent me this image from Postsecret.
Let me start by saying that what happened / is happening in Japan is a tragedy. The impact outside of Japan is never going to compare what the people are going through there. We all understand that and hopefully are helping in any way that we can.
This entry is about how what’s happening in Japan has affected my local Singapore restaurant.
Customers are worried about food from Japan. There is a fear that food has been exposed to the radiation that is leaking from the Fukushima reactors. Regardless whether a restaurant is actually getting its food from Japan, the “mass” are lumping anything associated with Japanese food as potentially dangerous.
Our sales have dropped by half. From what I’ve heard, many Japanese restaurants are experiencing the same. Despite daily checks by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore and the minimized usage of food from Japan, people are still scared. I can kind of understand it.
These are some of the thoughts I’ve had the past week:
- Food supply. We used to get a lot of our fish and ingredients from Japan. Now we’re faced with a situation where people don’t want to eat food from Japan. Do I immediately stop serving food from there? Even though it’s still deemed safe?
- What I’ve decided – I was very worried about screwing over our suppliers who are providing food from Japan; we’ve been buying things from them for over a year and I’m sure they’re just as worried as I am about the situation. However this is a business and I can’t keep buying ingredients that no one will want to eat. Instead, we contacted the suppliers to see what foodstuffs they had on hand which originated before the quake. For the items that we could stockpile (i.e. freeze and keep), we bought as much as possible. It’s a small gesture but hopefully it helps the suppliers have a little breathing room as they figure out what to do next.
- For everything we can’t stockpile, we have switched to non-Japan items.
- Communication – I feel weird about broadcasting “No food from Japan served here!” I feel that’s simply feeding the irrational fear which is preventing people from eating at Japanese restaurants. At the same time, I recognize that however irrational a fear may be, if a large amount of the population is feeling it, I better address it. This blog entry is kind of an attempt at that. A weak one, admittedly.
- Former staff – Kawa-san and some close friends of mine that have helped with the sushi bar are living in Japan. We (here in S’pore) were all worried about how they were coping. It was also interesting and really nice to see customers ask us about how they were doing.
- Fundraising for Japan – I’m thinking of how SSB can do more. I think it’s so, so, so good of restaurants such as Inagiku, Kuriya, and others pledging to donate part of their sales towards helping Japan. I wish I could do the same with SSB but fact-of-the-matter is we’re just not in a financial position where we can do it. I am brainstorming if we can do a special event to help raise money rather than a straight percentage of sales. That might be more feasible. In the meanwhile we have collection tins from the Japanese Association (which will be donated to the Red Cross) at each of our outlets. FYI here is a list of organizations that one can contribute to towards helping Japan.
- Staffing – Finally last month we hired enough people to be at full strength for each restaurant. Yet now the restaurants are much less busy. I guess this is a good time for a lot of the staff to finally take some days off – when we were short-handed many of them were working crazy hours.
- Future – The tragedy in Japan is going to have long-term impact. Supplier prices are going to go up, the amount of customers dining may drop, and who knows what other news might come out of Japan.
During this trip away, there was a lot of time to think about what could be done to improve the sushi bar. 40 hours of sitting still on an airplane forces the brain to wander.
Quick list of what I will be working on:
- Loyalty cards – this has always been on the “to-do” list, but I originally wanted to do something much greater. Some type of loyalty program that analyzes what each customer is ordering and personalizes the benefits that they would get from repeated visits. Alas this would have involved a complicated computer system so it will have to go on the back burner for now. Instead I should just do a straightforward card with rewards every few steps of the way.
- Set Menus – When I spoke at Barcamp.sg last year, one of the points I made was that customers are “lazy.” (I say this with love!) They get overwhelmed with the number of choices on the menu. What I plan to do is create multi-course set menus that are separate from our main menu listing. Hopefully that eases the burden of choice.
- Search Engine Optimization – Well, I’ve been working on this already. If you type in “sushi singapore” or “singapore sushi” we show up on the first page in Google. Only the second page on Bing (come on Microsoft!!). This is important as it’s one of the top ways people will discover the restaurant.
- Deeper cost analysis – I need to get a more accurate view of how much each item we sell costs. Everything is fluctuating and with the crisis in Japan I’m sure our suppliers will be increasing their prices. With deeper analysis I can see which items I can absorb the increase on and which ones will unfortunately have to be increased.
- Marketing – Ultimately I need to get people into the restaurants. I feel we have a good base of regulars but I need to figure out how to reach all the folks in Singapore that haven’t tried us out yet. I do not believe the group-purchasing deals are the solution.
- I also need to get over this jet lag and sleep properly.