News > Venues

Ekachai revamps flagship restaurant, eyes London expansion

By Luke Nicholls , 16-Jan-2014
Last updated on 16-Jan-2014 at 12:47 GMT

Related topics: Business, Venues, Restaurants

Ekachai, the South East Asian restaurant group, is beginning a culinary and interior makeover of its original site in Liverpool Street before embarking on expansion plans to double its estate over the next five years. 

Ekachai's co-owner Thomas Tjong wants to develop something 'more rustic' to match its food offering

Ekachai's co-owner Thomas Tjong wants to develop something 'more rustic' to match its food offering

The business, which has another restaurant in Wandsworth and two within Selfridges department stores in Oxford Street and Birmingham, wants to open one or two more outlets a year until reaching eight venues in or around the capital by 2020.

Ning Restaurants co-owner and executive chef Norman Musa has been brought on board as a consultant to develop the new, ‘more unique’ menu at Ekachai’s Liverpool Street branch, which will be rolled out to the group’s other sites if it proves successful.

Growth strategy

Co-owner Thomas Tjong told BigHospitality: “We need a new look, something more rustic and authentic to match the food.

“We’re very busy at lunchtime but in the evenings we’ve often had people coming for just 30-40 minutes, as they do for lunch. We want Ekachai to be a longer-lasting experience – it will be a lot more relaxed to encourage diners to stay for longer.

Tjong founded Ekachai in 2000 with business partner Sidney Tsang. Speaking of the growth strategy for the pan-Asian concept, the restaurateur added: “This year is all about getting the branding right; consolidating, and refurbishing the existing estate. From next year we will begin expanding.

“I would like to open one or two sites every year and by 2020 I want to have seven or eight. They will probably all be in London but we’ve looked at areas like Oxford, just outside of the capital.”

Street food-style

The 140-cover Ekachai Liverpool Street restaurant will close for around a fortnight at the end of the month, before re-opening on 10 February. The two-tier site will be made ‘less modern’, with more natural materials such as reclaimed timber, bamboo and natural rope giving it a Far East feel.

The menu, which Malaysian chef Musa has helped develop, will be more seasonal and based on the local ingredients that are available, with diners given a more authentic, street food-style experience. Dishes will include ayam goreng (Indonesian spiced chicken) and prawn and crab siu mai.

“We were searching for someone very creative to help to take us to the next level and in Norman Musa we found the answer,” added Tjong. “All of our branches have been trading well but I think this re-development will make us more unique and differentiate us from our rivals."

Ekachai Liverpool Street will close at the end of January and re-open on 10 February. 

BigHighlights

Michael Warren on heading up Harbour Hotels, his Hotel du Vin experience and why no two days are the same in hospitality
Small talk

Michael Warren on heading up Harbour Hotels, his Hotel du Vin experience and why no two days are the same in hospitality

Michael Warren spent 17 years at Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, helping with the development and expansion...

People on the Move in Hospitality: August 2014

People on the Move in Hospitality: August 2014

We've rounded up some of the latest movers and shakers in the hospitality industry, with the past...

60-Second Skill with Nigel Haworth: finely chopped onion

60-Second Skill with Nigel Haworth: finely chopped onion

Being able to chop finely is an essential skill if you want to make sauces or stocks...

Dish Deconstucted: José Pizarro's roasted monkfish with Serrano ham, black olives and thyme

Dish Deconstucted: José Pizarro's roasted monkfish with Serrano ham, black olives and thyme

At the recent Estrella Damm Gastronomy Congress, chef and restaurateur José Pizarro revealed the method behind a dish full...

Infographic: How to handle angry customers

Infographic: How to handle angry customers

Dealing with angry customers can be one of the most difficult, stressful and challenging parts of working...

Joanne Barratt: Pearls of Wisdom
Pearls of Wisdom

Joanne Barratt: Pearls of Wisdom

QHotels’ group operations manager talks about how important a strong team culture is in maintaining excellent standards...

Find us on Facebook

Digital Edition - Restaurant Magazine

Access to the Restaurant Magazine digital edition