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Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 1:30:22 PM
by brenda ch'ngphotos by azlina bt abdullah
The soba maki sushi is an interesting alternative.
IT is out with the old and in with the new as Sushi King embarks on a rebranding exercise after 18 years of serving affordable Japanese food at its 76 restaurants nationwide.
From the restaurants’ outlook and the menu to the new staff uniforms and encouraging the Japanese culture among staff, Sushi King’s new image, which was unveiled on June 1, is clearly an effort that has taken a year of planning.
“After almost two decades with the same image, we felt it was about time to re-brand and give our customers a better dining experience,” said Sushi King Sdn Bhd executive director Law Hwee Ching.
Opening its doors to customers in 1995, Sushi King is also known as the pioneer kaiten sushi or the first revolving sushi restaurant in Malaysia.
Founded by a Japanese residing in Malaysia, the brand new Sushi King promises patrons fresh food.
Sushi King features new dishes as part of its rebranding exercise.
‘Smiling, Serving Fresh’ and we intend to keep to that by giving all our sushi on the belt a shelf life,” she said.
This is one part of the rebranding exercise, which includes adding a censor system to both the conveyor belt and the bottom of the sushi plates.
Known as the Radio Frequency Identification Data (RFID), this device will be programmed to keep track of how long the sushi has been circling on the belt.
After two hours, for raw fish and four hours, for cooked dishes, the plates will automatically be pushed away from the belt and into the kitchen to be thrown away.
“This will help ensure the freshness of our sushi. Once off the belt, it will be thrown away manually by the chef,” she said.
Sashimi, also known as raw fish in Japanese, would be especially affected as the taste becomes different, more pungent, if left out for long.
Sushi King also tries to maintain food freshness by ensuring that the imported fish is well prepared and standardised at all restaurants.
To ensure quality, Sushi King has two Japanese chefs to monitor all restaurants and local head chefs specialising in Japanese food at each restaurant.
However, according to Law, not all fish are cut fresh in the kitchen as some are imported from Japan, already cut and sealed to ensure quality control.
“Like the yellow tail fish, each weighs 1,000kg or more, and as our kitchen cannot accommodate this, it is processed at a factory in Japan,” she said.
Apart from importing fish, Sushi King also imports rice from Vietnam, grown by the Japanese and called the Japonica Rice.
Every month, Sushi King ships in 36,000kg of rice per month.
“That’s how much rice is consumed at all our 76 restaurants every month,” she said.
Also, Sushi King breeds its own soft shell crabs at a farm in Myanmar, with 500 workers.
“Breeding soft shell crabs is not easy as many workers are needed to pick them out of the water at the right time,” she said.
Soft shell crabs are formed once they have molted out from their outer shell, leaving them soft and edible as a whole.
Apart from maintaining freshness and quality in their food, Sushi King has also incorporated nutritional information and healthy values into its menu as part of the re-branding.
Calorie counts are stated for each dish so that patrons will know what they are consuming.
“We spent more than RM50,000 and three months to get our menu’s nutritional value analysed by a third party,” she said.
With more than 200 items on the menu, inclusive of beverage, Sushi King has dedicated several pages on its menu to healthy eating.
Among items featured here are avocado, to help lower cholesterol, tofu for detox, seaweed or wakame for slimming and the kinoko mushroom for anti-aging.
There is also an offering called “15 grains rice”, where the sushi rice is made from 15 types of grains.
“We want to teach our customers how to eat and what to eat by incorporating all these healthy dishes and nutritional information into the menu.
Overall, Sushi King’s menu now comprises 30% new dishes and 70% old dishes, which are mostly customer favourites.
Among the new items are soba maki, Japanese buckwheat noodles, instead of rice, wrapped in seaweed.
This dish is best eaten with a dip of soy sauce and Chinese ginger.
“This cannot be found anywhere else, only at Sushi King and it is definitely a must-try,” she said.
There is also raw salmon served with avocado as a healthier option and the Japanese mushroom soup cooked in soy sauce broth.
In addition, Sushi King also offers the do-it-yourself sushi plate for children below 12.
For only RM9.90, children can make their own sushi by adding toppings to the rolled sushi rice wrapped in seaweed.
The set comes with miso soup and chawanmushi, also known as Japanese egg custard.
Sushi King can be found at most shopping malls, including Sunway Pyramid, Cheras Leisure Mall, IOI Mall and Ikano Power Centre.
New outlets will be opened in Alor Setar, Kuching, Sungai Wang, Sibu and Klang Bukit Raja shopping centre this year.
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Lifestyle, Sushi, Sushi King, Rebranding
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