Ray Heng is on hand in the food and beverage industry. Operating restaurants all over ASEAN, the Singaporean national has experienced many cultures. Cambodia, however, stood out to him. In an interview, he told Post Plus why he opened his Japanese Takaraya restaurant
You are arriving in Cambodia with a treasure trove of experience in the food and beverage industry in all of ASEAN area. What enriched your experience when you arrived in Cambodia?
When I first came to Phnom Penh in December 2013 to visit a friend, I was pleasantly surprised to see that although Cambodia and its people have been through difficult times, people in the streets had friendly faces. This was especially so with restaurants and street stalls. No matter if I took a meal or was just passing by they always had smiles on their faces. I was enchanted by people’s happiness when they were just gathering with friends and family over meals and drinks even though their living conditions might not have been the best in some cases. Witnessing this, I wanted to set up a restaurant with style and ambience where families and friends could experience this happiness.
What dish are you serving that makes Cambodian people happiest?
As Takaraya means ‘Treasure House’ in Japanese, there isn’t only one dish. We treasure all dishes at Takaraya. To express this, we even have, apart from our VIP rooms and garden pavilions, a teppanyaki room, a sushi room, a robata room and even tempura room, so all our guests can enjoy their favourite dish of Japanese cuisine made from freshest of ingredients, prepared live by our experience chefs.
Many, especially Japanese, restaurants have opened in Cambodia lately. How do you compete?
We do not see other restaurants as a competitor. At the same time, we are keen to learn from fellow restaurant operators to improve ourselves constantly in food, service or ambience. In fact, we always seek to improve ourselves and ask guests for their feedback even on small issues.
Did you set yourselves other goals coming into Cambodia?
We want to contribute to Cambodian society. We want to impart our experience and skill set to our employees. With more skill and knowledge, we will see a brighter future for all in Cambodia!