Kebab country eats sushi

Can you imagine the land of kebabs, meze and baklava eating raw fish? The Asian food trend was firstly introduced in the West by Asian immigrants that brought with them food and culture from their homeland. Then Asian food evolved from greasy to trendy; firstly the market was dominated by local Chinese takeaway venues while today most of the Asian restaurants moved to the upper end segment, thanks to the growing acceptance of Asian culture and ever stronger perceptions of Asian food as a healthier alternative than Western food.

Now if you visit any large metropolitan city it is almost certain that there will be a variety of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, even in Istanbul! Istanbul, although symbolically seen as the meeting point of the East and the West, most people prefer to eat their traditional food, inherited from the Ottoman period. Still if the Ottoman Empire was fascinated with Chinese porcelain to the extent that today its Palaces host the second largest collection of Chinese porcelain in the world, why shouldn’t younger generations be more open to trying and experimenting with flavors of the far East?

In fact this was the logic of Sushico founders who, after spotting a gap in the market, abandoned their high status jobs at a global company to launch a Chinese takeway that after its initial success turned into market leader for Asian restaurants in Turkey! How did Sushico achieve its success? Well simply try the food there and in other chains such as Wagamama, YoSushi, Itsu, Banana Leaf and there is simply no comparison in the taste- Sushico is playing on an entirely different level. According to the founders, Turkish customers are very picky when it comes to quality and service and switch easily if their expectations are not met. These couple of days in Istanbul I got a chance to hang out in two of their 20 venues and tried some of the best selling dishes as well as some new dishes launching in Autumn 2012.

The key to a successful restaurant business is consistently monitoring food and service quality. Managing a restaurant requires high levels of operational and multitasking skill as well as people judgment skill since most of the business is delegated to leaders in both the kitchen hierarchy as well as the ‘front office’ or restaurant floor team. In Sushico’s case the business model requires an even higher level of complexity since their delivery branch of the business contributes up to 30% of profits- and if you have ever been to Istanbul and experienced the continuous traffic problems each day and every day you can imagine how difficult it is to deliver food that compares in quality to that offered in the restaurant. Yet Sushico is somehow managing to excel even in that are.

So what is the key strategy in maintaining a successful restaurant business, I asked the owner? 100% customer orientation they say- Sushico is a serious business that cannot afford loosing customers hence they always pay attention and take special care of them- if a delivery is late, the meal is free, if customer is unhappy he doesn’t pay, if it is a repeat customers he/she gets numerous discounts and offers. In addition Sushico calls customers occasionally to ask if they are happy with their service.

The founders of Sushico are also world food travelers- every time they travel abroad they test different dishes and flavors and incorporate the best ones in the menu. A new dish I tried that I really liked was a prawn tempura burger which a very unique interpretation of the classical burger. Finally, although only 5% of profits are from alcoholic beverages, the Sushico team is also very innovative in drink mixology- an interesting beverage I came across which I haven’t found elsewhere is the Rose wine- a mix between the west and the orient, is a great alternative to wine and sake.

So if you are visiting Turkey and had enough from kebabs go to Sushico and refresh yourself with delicious flavors from the east- you can choose between Japanese, Chinese and Thai dishes depending on your preference and how hungry you are! Also why not try mixing the best dishes from all three countries to receive a complete Asian experience.

Have you eaten in Sushico, if yes did you like the experience? Let me know all about it here or @indigomemoirs

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