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KUCHING, Dec 17: Sorai, means “lemongrass” in the Bidayuh language.
Sorai Cafe, like lemongrass, may not offer an impressive appearance operating out of a modest shoplot, but looks can be deceiving. It is a cafe of substance, offering a wide range of authentic Dayak dishes, particularly Bidayuh cuisine, that has impressed many Kuchingnites in search of good food and keeps them coming back for more.
It is particularly famous for its sambal such as ‘sambal serai’ and ‘sambal petai’ and a wide variety of appetizer dishes such as ‘assam bowang’ and ‘umai’.
There are also dishes such as ‘tempoyak’, ‘kassam babi’, ‘kassam’ with tapioca leaves, ‘kassam ikan’, Dayak mixed vegetables, and BBQ pork and intestines.
Located at the new commercial centre at Tabuan Tranquility, the cafe is run by Bidayuh entrepreneur, Darren Clynton, 30.
Young but already an experienced food and beverage entrepreneur, Darren who has a quiet and calm temperament approaches his operation in a cool and confident manner.
Darren is definitely a foodie. Prior to opening his own business, he was already involved in the food and beverage industry.
The reason for his continual involvement in the food business by opening up his own is simple — he just loves food.
“I have a passion for food and I want to share good food with people,” he told DayakDaily recently.
Due to his interest in food, he constantly spends time observing the development of the food industry and food trends in Kuching, particularly, of Dayak food.
“Five years ago, there were very few Dayak food outlets. Now you can see the Dayak food market is getting a bigger share within the food industry.”
With the local Dayak community getting more affluent and other communities becoming more interested in Dayak cuisine, Darren saw the opportunity in the Dayak food market and ventured straight into the business.
Darren is not the only Dayak entrepreneur noticing the business potential of Dayak cuisine.
In Tabuan Tranquility alone, there are at least five premises and eateries which have come up within a short period of one year, offering Dayak food.
Some of these Dayak entrepreneurs operate stalls in coffee shops, while others open up restaurants, cafes or bistros specialising in Dayak food.
Darren, however, was not deterred by the competition, though he admitted that the competition was tough, not only from Dayak food businesses within the vicinity, but also from other food outlets and eateries that offer other types of food.
This can be seen from his bold decision to relocate his business which was then only a year old from Matang to Tabuan Tranquility in April this year.
“Even though competition is tougher here, the crowds are also bigger here,” he explained.
Darren also stands on his business principles which he believes that will give an extra edge to Sorai Cafe.
He said the two main factors in retaining customers were fresh and tasty food as well as good service.
That is why he ensures that food served at Sorai Cafe must be fresh and delicious, with fresh and quality ingredients used to prepare every dish.
Service wise, Darren tries to build good rapport with his customers whenever he can, while he makes sure that the customers’ order should be delivered within 15 minutes after ordering.
“Most customers understand that sometimes they have to wait especially when they patronise an eatery with a long waiting list.
“However, to me, I still try not to keep the customers waiting. If their waiting time exceeds 20 minutes, that is bad. For us, we make sure that the longest waiting time for the customers is 15 minutes.”
To ensure quality dishes and that the food ordered by the customers can reach them within the maximum time of 15 minutes, Darren engages four chefs.
Darren not only has a clear idea of what should be done to make the business viable but also a concrete vision for expansion in the future.
At this stage, he is waiting for his business at Sorai Cafe to stabilise first, before expanding it further.
“My plan for future expansion is to take up the second floor above Sorai Cafe and expand the business upstairs.
“The space on the second floor will be used for events and special functions such as weddings, company anniversary functions, seminars and meetings,” said Darren.
At the moment, Sorai Cafe also offers catering services.
Those interested may visit Sorai Cafe at Tabuan Tranquility Business Centre or call 012 887 7492 for catering. — DayakDaily