Ah, restaurant ownership… the picture in people’s heads is of a proprietor, mingling with guests, flitting from table to table and asking them how the food was while dazzling them with a charming anecdote or two about funny customers.

The reality is crouching on the floor at 1:30 in the morning stuffing A4-size paper into sticky plastic pouches to shove through the laminating machine.  Is it just me or is inserting paper into these pouches one of the most frustrating things to do? You stick it in and the corner of the paper juts out which means you have to peel the pouch cover back and try placing the paper again.

Well, at least I have 30 copies of the set menu for Standing Sushi Bar Marina Bay Link Mall laminated now.

A birthday meal

(Written on Saturday)

This is going to sound self-indulgent and promotional but it’s my birthday and I shall do what I want!

Typically I try to avoid eating in the restaurant. I feel it’s strange if I’m wearing our sushi bar t-shirt, eating the food, and not paying for it.  The ‘business’-guy in me thinks about how if I eat it, well, I’m losing money since it’s less sushi for me to sell.  I usually end up eating the leftover take-away after we have closed.

Anyway, I was at the restaurant in the afternoon, and it had been a somewhat stressful day.  I decided, “Hey! It’s my birthday, and I want to eat my own sushi freshly made.”  So I did.

I asked for the hotate (scallop) aburi with mentai sauce that people have been raving about, anago, ika, kanpachi (we only have this sporadically – hard to get!), salmon belly, salmon aburi with yuzu mayo, and mentaiko.

I stood, I ate.  It was a feast.

And I’m going to declare it: It was good.  Seriously good. As in some of the best sushi I have ever had.  The kanpachi (wild yellowtail) was ‘crunchy’ – it’s like you could feel the strength it has from swimming free rather than being farmed. Anago had a cleaner and lighter taste than unagi (saltwater eel versus freshwater eel), and the sauces Roy used for the aburi sushi were awesome.

I’ve kept on top of reviews and comments about the restaurant. I’m happy that people are saying lots of positive things.  Now that I’ve tried it out myself, I’m really pleased with how things have turned out.

Can we do things better?  Of course we can.  I think we nailed the core concept though.  High-quality sushi, easygoing place.

Just one word… Plastics

Today I met with a supplier from CTL Solutions PTE Ltd. 

Their tagline: “For all your alternative packaging needs.”

It was an informative meeting.  I looked through a few samples, discussed other items they could create, and talked about the importance of finding proper take-away / carry-out packaging.

I learned a lot about plastic and paper packaging today.  Granted my knowledge on the subject was near zero prior to this meeting, but who would have expected such an interesting coffee session?

Most of the take-away sushi containers I’ve seen are flimsy and crumple when you squeeze too hard.  I worry that unless the container is stapled the food will spill while I carry it home.  That experience affects my impression of the whole restaurant.

That led me to think about how Standing Sushi Bar will approach packaging:

  • Thick, solid material – no flimsiness!  If people want to hand-carry it, stuff it in a bag, or knock it around I want to ensure that the contents don’t spill out.
  • Vehicle for awareness – the logo should be on the box and on the bag.  Perhaps one day people will prize my logoed bags like they do a purse that says Gucci on it.
  • Clear top, colored bottom – I’ve decided against paper containers because you can’t see the contents. With a clear plastic top you can see the type of sushi inside.  It’s important that people can look at the pre-packaged take-away sushi and feel confident that it is high-quality and value-for-money.  With a dark green or black bottom, that will contrast nicely with the color of the fish and rice regardless what surface the container is put on.

I hadn’t thought about the bags we would need to provide to take-away customers until today’s discussion with the CTL rep.  I hope we have many repeat customers; I am toying with providing linen bags for frequent diners and providing a discount on the food when they reuse the bag on subsequent visits. While producing the bags might be costly, they are eco-friendly, the customer can re-use them (not just for sushi), they look nice, and the bags would be seen enough to increase brand awareness.

Never think about packaging before?  Try it now and see if we’ve missed anything major on how it relates to the restaurant!

Oh, golden rule – the packaging shouldn’t cost more than the food. :)  (The representative kept emphasizing this after I went off on a tangent thinking of what kind of custom-design packaging I could create).


Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.