Keeping it LocalWritten by Julianne D
If you have the drive for something, your past experiences can be all you need to move forward towards your passion. Ryan Ching, Creator of Bánh Mì Kitchen, is living proof of this.
Ryan Ching holds a crisp rustic roll in one hand, and a bread knife covered in a chunk of pate in the other. When observing him from behind the counter, he may appear to be a Bánh Mì Kitchen employee, but he is, in fact, the creator of the well-loved restaurant.
His love for Banh Mi stems from his experience with Vietnamese cuisine in 2013, saying he ate Banh Mi every day for breakfast. The food is a staple for him, yet rare to find in Hong Kong – for this reason, he says he took it upon himself to give the city a taste of his favourite dish. “We knew we would be at an advantage if we made the right product at the right price point. Our aim is to keep costs low and produce higher volumes.”
Beneath the high-rises of Hong Kong is a challenging food and beverage industry with over 10,000 restaurants. Despite this, Ryan took an educated gamble as he opted to overcome any worries of competition and high rent. There was a lot to think about when opening the restaurant, including aesthetic-related decisions. He relied on friends the kindness of his friends at the start, with them often handling the cashier.
However, the young entrepreneur’s first stint with the food industry started at Subway. One of the figures that taught him the importance of attention to detail was his former boss from a restaurant he worked for in the early 2000’s – a glass smashing would be met with stern criticism, teaching him the value of money. “That manager died suddenly when I was still working there. It wasn’t until 10 years later than I realised the importance of what he taught me – mostly that there is significance in the detail.”
He firmly believes that the first few months of opening a restaurant is crucial, “You need to be thinking about your business 24/7. I was even having dreams about it – how much chicken do I need? Do I have enough wrapping paper? Have I got enough content on social media?”
This time last year, Ryan was working in a different industry, in which he and his friends found themselves investing a lot of money in a startup app that didn’t end well. Multitasking is not for everyone. Ignore the risk of investing in one single business and place your energy into what you love – this advice worked for him.
Shop 5, Li Yuen East Street, Prosperity Tower Central District
Edited by Lucy Bent