Hokkei, a new concept in Asian takeaways opens on Crwys Road on Monday 10 November.
Two MasterChef finalists, Larkin Cen and Dale Williams are behind the new business which will focus on authentic Chinese cooking and responsible sourcing of ingredients.
RoathCardiff spoke to Larkin about the new venture:
What’s the concept behind Hokkei Box?
Hokkei is a delivery service Asian takeaway. Hokkei means curiosity in Cantonese but it also stands for many things. Hokkei will focus on pure flavours and authentic ingredients and the staff will be passionate about the food they produce. Sourcing ingredients which are untraceable and sometimes unethical is pandemic within the takeaway sector but Hokkei’s ingredients will be sourced responsibly.
The food can be ordered individually or in a Hokkei Box which is designed to give our customers more for their money. The box comprises a main, dim sum (which is like China’s version of tapas), a side and an extra. It is designed so that you can eat from the Hokkei box for added convenience.
What was your inspiration for the idea?
I grew up in a Chinese takeaway and real Chinese food is simply beautiful but “British” Chinese food is very different. To change how people perceive Chinese food you have to target the very sector and the food that has given Chinese food a bad name.
What can people expect to see on the menu?
The menu is fun and packed with amazing dishes. As a few examples we have eight hour pork ribs, triple cooked crispy beef, roasted Char Sui and a lamb curry dish that got me into the quarter finals of MasterChef.
Is there one dish that sums up the Hokkei Box concept?
We have put a lot of thought into all of our dishes but as an example lemon chicken in a traditional Chinese takeaway restaurant is made from fried chicken, lemon cordial, orange cordial, custard powder and a heap of caster sugar.
Our version is made from lemon infused chicken which has been seared on the teppanyaki grill, served with corn on the cob with a soy butter, choi sum and a soy, lemon and lemon thyme sauce. Our chicken has been sourced responsibly and will be delivered to us fresh.
How did the MasterChef experience shape your plans?
I applied for MasterChef to launch my Chinese takeaway concept so nothing in terms of my plans, but I met Dale on MasterChef and together we created Hokkei. In terms of experience I became a better chef following MasterChef.
You experimented with a pop-up at Celtic Manor – how was that?
The pop up was successful and well received but it hammered home to myself and Dale the reality of running a commercial kitchen as opposed to cooking domestically. To that extent the experience was invaluable.
Why did you choose Crwys Road for your first opening?
Having studied at Cardiff University and lived in Cathays as a student, I knew that this was a superb location for us to launch Hokkei. Cathays has a diverse population from various different backgrounds. More generally, the area is fun and unpretentious which suits our brand perfectly
You’ve obviously got big plans for expansion – what’s next after Cathays?
We are a delivery service Asian takeaway. A Hokkei store has a delivery radius of three miles. It is the only way we can ensure the quality of the food is excellent by the time it reaches your door. We want to service the whole of Cardiff so we will target many other areas in Cardiff.