JAPANESE restaurant chain Sushi King has marked not one, but two important milestones this year.
On top of celebrating its 21-year presence in Malaysia, the chain has also achieved halal certification for 90% of its 105 restaurants nationwide.
Texchem Resources Bhd founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Fumihiko Konishi said the 15-year process to be granted the halal certification for its restaurants was one that has received support from Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim).
“There are more than 150 items to be screened, and through it, our suppliers also have to be certified.
“It is not an easy process, and Jakim has been guiding Sushi King to better understand the process and meet the requirements,” said Konishi, adding that the company was especially grateful to the suppliers for going along the same journey.
Konishi noted that the halal certification was something he pushed for persistently over the years so that more consumers could enjoy Sushi King’s offerings.
Admittedly, he said sustaining the taste and quality of its offerings was the most difficult part of becoming halal, as many integral ingredients were hard to replace, but this was something they had managed to overcome.
“Today, we are able to retain the original taste from Japan with compliance to the stringent standards.”
He also noted that being halal was important not just for religious purposes, but also adhering to the standards would give consumers peace of mind in terms of safe and healthy food consumption.
With the halal standards met, Konishi said they were ready to enter the Indonesian market.
“We have already set a task force to study the local market and look into compliance with the regulations and governing laws there,” he said.
Konishi also said no date or location had been identified for when its first restaurant would be established in Indonesia, but the chain was likely to first set up in Jakarta sometime next year.
Locally, Konishi said the market still had a big potential for expansion.
“Malaysia has more than 30 million in population, and we are looking at perhaps up to 300 branches to serve the entire population,” he shared, adding that the target was to reach 200 restaurants by 2020, and 300 by 2030.
He also said the chain established at least one new store every month, and was looking at 114 restaurants in total by the year end.
However, the chain is looking to expand beyond metropolitan areas.
“We have consumers who are waiting for us even in rural areas,” said Konishi, adding that the halal compliance would enable them to enter smaller towns.
To mark the chain’s milestones, Sushi King made a contribution of RM21,000 to the Pertubuhan Rahoma Darul Fakir Malaysia to help support the home’s 55 children at a commemorative event at Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya.
At the event, Sushi King head chef Takeshi Torita led chefs, VIPs, celebrities and guests in the rolling of a 70ft maki roll, which was later distributed to patrons of the mall as a show of appreciation for customers’ support throughout the years.