We go behind the scenes to find out the highlights and challenges of the latest F&B openings.
Before The Salted Plum, there was Five Ten. What can diners expect from the new concept?
Like Five Ten, the menu will focus on Taiwanese street food. Think night markets and age-old family-owned establishments from south Taiwan. My brothers and I want to bring back these comfort foods in a way Singaporeans will enjoy. We worked with chef Shawn Koh (formerly from Salted & Hung) to showcase the unique flavour profile of the cuisine while reinventing it. Our Lu Rou uses a special house sauce that’s a result of Shawn’s experimentation with his mother’s recipe, while our bouncy pork patties are reminiscent of the aromatic, sweet lap cheong.
Is there a dish you’d recommend?
The Burnt Chilli Chicken. Feeling peckish one day, I had Shawn fry up some chicken in garlic and chilli. He amped up the flavours with coriander. One bite in, I knew I had to put it in our new menu.
How is it like working with your brothers?
Our youngest brother, Bryan, has been working with me since 12. Nick took on a more pragmatic side to the business, asking tough questions that I, the cavalier of the three, would often overlook. This dynamic of opposites working together makes us an effective unit.
You initially built your career behind the bar counter. What made you launch a hospitality consultancy firm?
As a young man, bartending at Mezza9 Restaurant in Grand Hyatt Singapore was everything. I got to travel the world, be it for competitions or work, but I soon realised it was only one facet of the hospitality industry. Before I started consulting, people wanting to open restaurants or bars would come to me for insights – to understand the perspective of an owner, client and consumer. It was a growing gap in the market and I went for it.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a consultant?
As an owner, you would always want to showcase the best – interior or ingredients. The reality is the budget and the return on investment (ROI). So, I must find the balance between a noteworthy product and a good ROI as the business progresses. Looking at business from a numbers standpoint is what makes us successful. For example, we keep prices low at The Salted Plum by increasing volume. The idea is to entice first-timers with our price point but have them come back for the food.
What’s next for Five Ten Holdings?
We will be expanding our drinks menu using Taiwanese plums. It’s hard to deny our love for the sour plum flavour; it’s something we all grew up on. Tiki bar Bee Bee’s, helmed by Bryan, will be making its return on the third floor in the late 2018