There is a new authentic Japanese ramen spot in town! Tensai Ramen in Rotterdam. The owners, Amy Choi and Chiyong Wong, went to Japan and have mastered the art of Japanese ramen. I was thrilled to try their ramen, so I visited them yesterday and tried the Shio Chin-tan Ramen. It was good, but a bit salty for me. Chef Wong said that this is how they eat it in Japan. Chef Choi said that they are still thinking about whether to keep the food authentic or not. That made me think… Should a restaurant serve authentic food or change to cater the local audience?
The previous restaurant that was in the building of Tensai Ramen was Kiroren Restaurant. Kiroren served food from the Chinese province Xinjiang, Uyghur food. I loved this place, because they make authentic food which I ate before with my family in Xinjiang. I was maybe the 2% of the people who enjoyed the authentic food, because it was authentic. I am guessing that 98% of the other people who came there, had never eaten Uyghur food before and had to adapt to it. Long story short, Kiroren Restaurant is out of business and I will miss their food.
No, change authentic food
Let’s say there are 100 potential visitors who can come to your restaurant and eat your authentic food.
~ 10 people have eaten it before in the original country and LIKED IT. That’s very important. They will certainly come back to eat the authentic food and have an enjoyable memory connected to it.
~ 40 people have never eaten the original version, but are willing to try it and give it a go. They still need to get used to the taste. Or they don’t like it, since it is out of their comfort zone (e.g. eating meat from the bone).
~ 50 people will never come, because they are not interested in the cuisine.
To make those 40 people come back is very important for your business. What can you do?
A _ Keep serving the same food and give them the same average experience.
You need to try at least 10 times to like something new. For example, I ate a lot of free kimchi in South-Korea to like it and then love it.
But are those people willing to pay 9 times more, for an average experience?
Or B _ Listen to them and adapt to their liking. You make their food experience better and you have listened to their opinion, which makes them feel appreciated. The customer is King.
But, if you can keep the business running with those 10 persons. Great! Then my answer is “Yes, serve authentic food“.
Listen to the customer
Yokohama Ramen Saito got the customer’s opinion by putting post-its on the table. I think that’s a good idea to get people’s feedback. “What did you like? What can be better?”
That’s so important. You need to create a happy relationship with your customer. Keep on communicating!
But don’t worry
Don’t feel bad that the authenticity of the food will go away. Food is creative, it never stops changing. It becomes better and better. Look at the origin of ramen. The noodles came from China and the Japanese have perfected in a way that it is now a staple dish from Japan.
So let’s take the Japanese ramen and make it a staple dish of the Netherlands. That would be so cool. Authentic Dutch ramen! People from all over the world coming to the Netherlands to eat Authentic Dutch Ramen.
Having said all this, I will be going back to Tensai Ramen to try all their different ramen and find my favorite. ^3^ Have a great weekend!
Schiedamsedijk 1, 3011 EB Rotterdam
Next week they will serve another test menu. The week of 9 April 2018 is their real opening.