Wafuken is Singapore’s first ever sous vide themed restaurant concept. “Wafu” refers to the Japanese style of western cuisine while “Ken”, also known as Kenko means wellness in Japanese. And together, Wafuken is an Asian fusion restaurant that prides itself on serving customisable donburi (rice bowls) that take your taste buds on a gastronomic journey and one that is good for your body too! All their delicious food is made locally without any artificial seasoning and they only use high quality meats such as its signature juicy chicken breasts and oyster blade steak! Here at Wafuken, you have full control over what goes into your rice bowl as you can choose your favourite protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and have them delivered directly to your doorstep!
Before Wafuken launched a CloudKitchens® delivery kitchen (aka delivery-only kitchen), expanding their brand outside of Central Business District (CBD), which is where it’s currently located, was difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic and of course, the extremely high capital needed to open a traditional brick and mortar restaurant in Singapore. They then decided to launch their very own delivery kitchen at Orchard and China Square with Smart City Kitchens as it offered the perfect solution to help them grow and scale their business under the new norm. Here’s what Wafuken’s founder – Jake has to say about running a delivery kitchen in Singapore is like and why he recommends other restaurants to partner with us:
Q: What is unique about Wafuken’s food idea? How did it come about?
All of our proteins are sous vide cooked and our menu is fully customisable in order to suit a wide range of diet needs. We chose to go with sous vide cooking in order to create the best tasting chicken breast that’s still juicy and nutritious, riding along that thought, we ended up going with the same method for all our proteins. Nutrition is highly personalised and so we have decided to go with a fully customisable menu that our customers can choose the items they like as well as control to a degree how many portions of each component.
View the Wafuken menu: www.wafuken.com
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Q: Why did you join Smart City Kitchens?
We wanted to expand our offering to a wider audience on top of concentrating on the CBD crowd.
Q: How has Wafuken grown since starting with Smart City Kitchens?
Due to the pandemic and its restrictions, overall delivery volume has increased. More importantly, we are now able to expose our brand to more areas. Additionally, without needing to have front-of-house at these outlets, we are also able to better manage our manpower in order to open up our operations to 7 days with lesser barriers.
Q: What was life like before Smart City Kitchens? What is it like now? How has your business changed after adopting CloudKitchens® model?
Traditionally, if you would like to expand your business, it is only possible to do so by opening up additional brick & mortar outlets. This would mean a higher initial investment due to renovation, equipment and a larger staff body per outlet. However, we are now able to cut down on these initial investments by a huge factor on top of having some of the nitty-gritty details being filled in already by the Smart City Kitchens team. Presently, this also means that we are able to test out a market by entering through a Smart City Kitchens and make more informed decisions on the area for further development.
Q: In your opinion, what is the key to business success in the F&B industry?
In Singapore, our average expectation for food is relatively high. Many of us grew up knowing where the best tasting hawker fares are at. So it is no surprise that food quality is at the top of the list. However we also have to keep in mind that eventually serving great tasting food is just a prerequisite as Singaporeans are overwhelmed with choices. In order for us to stand out from this, it is crucial to double-down on what makes your brand different and continue innovating towards that direction. We cannot afford to stay stagnant in Singapore.
Q: What is your advice for new local Singaporean F&B entrepreneurs?
You will never be able to please everyone, so it is important to know the business limitations of your brand. Don’t get me wrong, solve it if you can, but it often makes more business sense to concentrate on your strengths.
Q: What are your future plans for Wafuken?
We are looking to go Halal Certified as soon as possible. On top of that, we hope to be more readily available around the island in order to serve everyone quality food, cutting down the need for long-distance deliveries.
Q: Would you recommend Smart City Kitchens to others in the restaurant industry? Why?
Yes, definitely do consider Smart City Kitchens as an option. Whether you are an existing brand looking for expansion or you are a start-up looking to do a proof-of-concept, break away from traditional conventions and consider the merits of entering a delivery kitchen in a manner that would benefit your brand.
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