Are there advantages of serving this specific market?
Jun: Chinese cuisine involves different spices and flavours, which attracts different expat audiences.
Chen: Middle East people don't usually eat spicy food therefore, with mild spice, Cantonese cuisine is easily accepted. Many Middle Eastern cities are undergoing a transition and lacking great Chinese restaurants, making it the perfect opportunity for Chinese restaurants in the market. Another advantage is that since Cantonese mostly contains vegetables, steamed dishes and has very little salt, it is perfect for a healthy meal, which is ideal for the image-conscious residents of Dubai in particular.
Lee: People in Dubai are receptive to trying new stuff and being a little more adventurous. On the other hand, people here know their food and love their classics.
Do you rely on importing ingredients or use local products?
Bastos: It is hard to source some products in Dubai. Luckily, Dubai ports have a lot freedom when it comes to importing goods. We can easily get imported vegetables and proteins from other countries. Dubai is close to the Gulf Sea, so we have easy access to fresh seafood.
Lee: Because of the authenticity of our dishes we source many products from overseas. A wide range of beautiful ingredients are available locally but the challenge is availability, seasonality and the terrain here. I would love to be an advocate of ‘grow local’ but for the style of our dishes at Asia Asia and Karma Kafé we need to work with seasonality and specialist products. We work to import products with Fresh Express and Tastemasters to get products like oriental dried goods and speciality oriental vegetables.
Chun: It is combination of both. This is our challenge, as we want to ensure the most authentic dining experience. We also have to ensure that our company standards are maintained, such as ensuring that our products have no MSG, whether imported or not. At the end, authenticity is important.
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