What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am an architect by design, but a restauranteur by birth. I own and operate Enak in Starhill, and currently run Ketuhar, located at Zell-V Wellness Hub. I got into the industry by chance after attending a meeting alongside my father with Tan Sri Francis Yeoh back in 2004.
What’s the best thing about running both Enak and Ketuhar?
The menus! Though the ingredients may seem the same, the methods and preparation techniques are completely different. The fun in it is the process of being able to take apart each menu and putting it back together based on the emphasis of cuisine in each restaurant.
On one hand, we have Enak, where we redefine Malay Cuisine with a contemporary twist, and on the other, Ketuhar, where we focus on fine dining Malay Cuisine. Similar but by all means not the same. The best thing is having to take two very similar concepts and creatively separating both, so that these two brands are equally unique and noteworthy to our discerning guests.
Has Enak changed its focus of late? We’ve noticed changes.
Yes, there is change in the wind, and the change feels good. We are currently in the midst of shaking up our menu and the overall feel of Enak, and should be ready to launch by September. We’ve been known since our opening as serving fine dining Malay cuisine to the masses, and though it’s worked for us in the past, I believe it really is time to shake things up and bring about a contemporary twist to what we can offer here at Enak. Which is a lot. So, watch this space!
What will happen to these famous four-generation-recipes?
Nothing and everything! The foundation of Enak has always been steeped in tradition; but as the generations grow and evolve, so do these time-honoured practices. Old ones are revered and practised, while new ones come about to see if they can stand the test of time.
What’s the best/worst part of your job?
I wholeheartedly believe it’s the same joys and fears of any job that you have a passion for. For me, the best thing will always be seeing my customers have a great meal at my restaurants, and see them come back again for more with new faces in tow. The worst part? That each day is comprised of only 24 hours. As a working mother with two amazing sons, the hope is to spend as much time as I can with them before they grow up and focus on women other than myself.
What is your current favourite meal/drink at the moment?
It has to be Ruyi & Lyn’s Keep Calm & Eat Fried Chicken Skin snack. All that sinfully delicious salted egg goodness deep fried with chicken skin. The combination is mind-blowing. Though I’m a bit miffed that we didn’t come up with that first, I’m happy they did.
I know the cuisine you both serve is different, but is there by chance some friendly rivalry happening here?
Always! No, honestly there isn’t. And there aren’t even any friendly rivalries that ever need to take place between restaurants ever; well that’s what I believe. At the end of the day this entire experience we call life is about learning from each other, not hurting. Those truly passionate about what they do, those who use food with the purpose of creating beautiful works of art for others to enjoy visually and physically will never feel the pain of competition. Yes, we all need money to survive and keep our businesses growing for all the mouths we need to feed; therefore, I believe that the advancement of a business should come from the advancement of the craft, the products and services we provide, and not from petty rivalries of ‘anything they can do, I can do better’ mentality.
You are a mother to two sons, and you run two restaurants, how do you balance everything and make time for yourself?
The truth is with a great team behind me. I think the trick is to prioritise and have a team behind you to pick up where you fail. No man is an island, and even if he were he’d need an entire ecosystem of animals on it to make the island work. I thoroughly believe in teamwork and the importance of empowering your colleagues to the betterment of themselves, which will result in the benefit of the company.
Is there anything you’d like patrons of Enak to know?
I would love for them to know that Enak is still standing strong because of their support and belief in the food and service that we’ve provided since we opened in 2005. I have always been and will always be grateful for their patronage. I would also love to let it be known that our new contemporary menu will be out in September, and I cannot wait to invite everyone over for its debut!