Spotlight Series – YakiBaBar

Spotlight Series – YakiBaBar

Quisine’s Spotlight Series takes an inside look at the food and beverage industry by speaking with the folks who know it best – restaurant owners, chefs and managers. This time around, we get the inside scoop on YakiBaBar by talking to Tay Lian Soon, the owner.

For those who are unaware, YakiBaBar in Serangoon Gardens is a charming bar and restaurant that puts a new twist on an old classic, specifically Japanese yakitori skewers.

Proudly using only fresh premium ingredients and no artificial preservatives or MSG in its dishes, YakiBaBar consistently serves up food that is to die for. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also offer a fantastic range of premium sake, which helps turns a delicious meal into a night out to remember.

But of course we wanted to know more, so we sat down with YakiBaBar’s owner Tay Lian Soon to ask him a few questions about his restaurant. We hope you find our conversation as interesting and informative as we did. Enjoy!

What made you choose this line of work? What/Who inspires you?

I was inspired to start a yakitori restaurant/bar because I personally love Japanese yakitori cuisine! There’s a magical quality about yakitori skewers that are meticulously grilled with the best ingredients. Yakitori, in essence, is very different from other traditional forms of Japanese cuisine.

Grilled food is not easy to prepare! There are a lot of factors to monitor and consider in order to bring out the best taste, such as the combination of ingredients, temperature of the grill, types of meat and of course our secret yakitori sauce! Even the type of skewer used can affect the taste of yakitori! Preparing great-tasting yakitori is, therefore, a challenge, but one that inspires me.

What do you feel your restaurant adds to the city’s dining scene?

We are set up to be somewhere between a shopping mall eatery and a high-end Japanese restaurant where a diner might feel too uptight to really enjoy their food. We want our diners to feel comfortable to dine on great-tasting Japanese cuisine that’s affordable, without compromising on the quality of ingredients and service.

That is why we are minimalist in our ambience in the vein of izakaya-style dining which is extremely popular in Japan. We even have a prominent bar counter for late night suppers and drinks. There aren’t many yakitori restaurant bars in Singapore that serve the kind of dishes that are on our menu and we feel that there is a space for izakaya-style dining in Serangoon Gardens.

What has been the biggest business challenge for your restaurant?

The biggest challenge has been to refine and improve our menu to the level where we can be proud to serve our diners. Feedback from diners thus far has been largely positive, which we’ve found to be extremely encouraging. We are driven by customer satisfaction at YakiBaBar as it inspires us to keep on improving our dishes.

Personally, I find that not many restaurants experiment and introduce new dishes once their menu is set, but there is never a finish line when it comes to serving great food! We will continue to try out new ingredients and flavour combinations in the hope of becoming the best that we can be.

How has Quandoo helped in your restaurant operations?

Quandoo has been extremely helpful! As a reservation platform, they’ve helped us generate advance bookings and it’s so useful to be able to track our daily performance. It’s also very easy to use their mobile app and it’s super useful for me to view it on the go! As a merchant partner, we’re extremely grateful that they’ve worked closely with us to help introduce YakiBaBar to their users. We can’t recommend Quandoo highly enough!

What are your food trend predictions for the coming years?

The rise of social media and the ease at which we are able to view content in this day and age has led to a huge foodie movement. Celebrity chefs and a plethora of food programs have introduced the average diner to a new way of viewing food. I believe that casual diners will be replaced with discerning foodies who know how to really appreciate what they eat and the amount of effort it takes to prepare a meal.

This also means that there are more and more food critics out there which I feel is a great incentive for restaurants to continue to improve on what they put on diners’ tables. Restaurants can be found everywhere, but great food leaves a lasting impression that foodies will remember for a long time.

We’d like to thank Tay Lian Soon for answering our questions. If you’d like to check out YakiBaBar for yourself, you can book a table through Quandoo here!