Waraku Restaurant Backstage
It is popular for people to consume Japanese food with different reason; some like traditional taste with simple look but reflecting meticulousness, some like dressing that is amazing with mixtures of strange raw materials. Waraku Japanese Casual Dining is the answer of both side with presentation of traditional Japanese food in unique and outstanding style.
Waraku Japanese Casual Dining has 24 branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. Khun Wongsakorn Wongtevaviman and partners buy master franchise to operate. Currently, Waraku Japanese Casual Dining in Thailand has 3 branches at Central World, Central Plaza Pinklao and Central Gland Rama IX. “We buy a model such as logo, branch or even shop decoration style but we have our own workers” Khun Wongsakorn said.
The letter (wa) as the name of the restaurant means peace while (raku) means harmony and they are what the franchise owner wants the consumers to sense when they enter the restaurant until they start eating. Khun Wongsakorn defines food at Waraku that it is ancient Kyoto dishes, which are different from modern Japanese restaurant that they use raw materials and components from nature such as grilled meat on leaf, hot pot from paper. Spoon from leaves or food serving on hot stone bowl with attempt to maintain original Japanese taste.
“What we are interested in using Waraku Franchise is because Waraku has different concept from other franchises in Thailand”
Concept of casual dining of the restaurant starts from want to be find dining in affordable price with different menus made of quality raw material and served in casual atmosphere. It’s not like hotel or luxurious restaurant. Khun Wongsakorn and his partners tried to set price and find selling points to be similar to competitors like Fuji or Zen with variety of food also that target group from upper to lower class can access.
“Buying master franchise is good that we are free in putting idea and we can adapt it some such as food to sell. In first year, we sold traditional menus of the franchise but after that, we developed menus throughout 4 years we have opened. We try to adjust menus once a year or a year and a half. We will have special menu in each month. During vegetarian festival, we also have vegetarian menu too” Khun Wongsakorn said
Popular menu here is beef/pork shike ramen and seafood kaminabe, which is seafood hot pot with vegetables, served in paper pot with mixture of asbestos so it does not burn. In addition, we also have jumbo Udon which is signature dish of the restaurant because many people can’ help but take photos to show on social media.
“Our slogan is Think Udon, Think Waraku because we want to open market for Udon. In the past, Thai people did not like Udon because they used to have some kinds of bad experience. We want Thai people to taste authentic Udon and change thoughts from the past. So we order special Udon from factory in Japan that promises to produce and sell for us only. When biting, you will feel softness and chewiness of Udon that you will never get bored chewing it. Recently, the Udon champion from TV Champion Show came to taste menus at the shop too. Our Udon is unique even Waraku in foreign countries that is different too”
Apart from Udon, many raw materials in the restaurant are imported from Japan too “we don’t want to deceive consumers, like the soup, we used soup stewed with authentic raw materials. Some restaurants use soup powder or some us Chinese eel and say it is Japanese eel. For us, raw materials are important and we import them only because quality does matter,” He said
“Seasoning is important too, we develop recipe and it is like a flirty man, we choose tens of seasoning to get the best. Ramen soup or Udon is our signature and we use mentsuyu of Ajinomoto. After we taste it. We are sure that it is perfect for our recipe.
Because creating difference with food needs some new tricks and interesting ideas but the authentic taste is based on care in selecting raw materials. Conceptual difference only is not enough because it cannot maintain customers for long time.