I am often asked by readers, what is the secret of success of a F & B business. I am no expert but after speaking with over 600 stall and restaurant owners in Johor and Singapore, I feel a good (or poor) supply chain is half the battle won (or lost).
Successful F & B owners invariably pay a lot of attention to securing a reliable supply of the best ingredients for their restaurants.
Alex, the owner of Star Chef restaurant in Gelang Patah, who has been in the food business since his teens, is very resourceful in securing the best supplies for his restaurant. Besides the usual supply network, Alex often personally goes to fishermen wharves around Johor to get his supplies direct from fishermen.
The Catch of the Day, literally.
Some of Alex's supplies also come from his family's own fish farm.
Alex with his dad at the fish farm.
Alex's dad and brother operate a fish farm near Pontian, the seaside town.
The fish farm raises hatchlings and stock wild caught crabs and lobsters for fattening in these large concrete tanks containing sea water.
Young Trevally fish in one of the concrete tanks.
Alex sometimes uses stock from his family's fish farm, especially during high demand periods like festive seasons.
Besides a good supply, a well organised kitchen, cohesive crew and skillful chefs are, of course, critical. As the owner-chef at Star Chef, Alex is often personally leading the team in the kitchen.
The hot and furious action in Star Chef's kitchen.
Dr Leslie Tay (of iEatiShootiPost blog) and I were at Star Chef restaurant in Gelang Patah, and had these dishes for dinner.
Love this 咸香金瓜 battered pumpkin mash fried with salted egg yolk (RM12). The crispy battered skin puffed up by hot steam, wrapped a soft pumpkin paste filling. An interesting blend of sweet pumpkin, savoury salted egg yolks on the batter, and spicy aromatic notes from bits of cut chili and curry leaves.
This starter dish can be quite addictive.
鲍汁琵琶豆腐 Abalone sauce pipa tofu (RM12). Soft tofu wrapped in a crispy batter wrap softened by a savoury sauce with sweet notes.
Pipa tofu is a classic Chinese tofu dish so named because the tofu is shaped like a pipa, the Chinese lute (like a guitar).
拉拉 Lala RM12
I really enjoyed this Lala.
So fresh I could taste the sea through the clean and sweet flavours of the Lala meat and juices. The Lala clams were so well cleaned, I did not encounter any grit at all even though I ate nearly a dozen pieces.
油泡斑球时蔬 Stir fried Grouper with seasonal vegetables (RM28).
Big chunks of fresh Grouper, so tender that I had trouble holding it up for this photo. I like the soft, slightly chewy texture of the Grouper skin complementing the sweet tender meat.
泰式猪手 Thai style pork knuckle (RM38). A large deep fried pork trotter served with Thai, Mongolian and black pepper sauce. Slightly overdone today, shall try it again next time for another review. This is the best value pork knuckle that I've came across in JB, so far.
螃蟹煲香饭 or Crab in Claypot Rice (RM28 for small crab).
The fresh crab was meaty, juicy and naturally sweet with a nice spring. We could taste the crab's natural flavours without any interference from add on sauces.
The sparing use of sauces resulted in a rice that was only mildly flavoured and may not be appealing to people who like more pronounced flavours.
There was also no charred rice crust at the bottom of the claypot (unlike typical claypot chicken rice).
江南生虾 Large river prawns (RM10 per 100 grams).
Meaty river prawns fried in a garlicky, buttery sauce. The savoury, aromatic sauce complemented the thick sweet flesh well. The flavour of these gently chewy large pawns were less intense and exquisite than lobsters, but hey, these are river prawns at half the price :P
I love 大生虾 big river prawns :D
We enjoyed our visit to the fish farm and dinner at Star Chef 星名廚.
When we were leaving, Alex declined our payment for our meal.
Restaurant name: Star Chef Restaurant 星名廚
Address: 51, Jalan Gelang Emas 1, Taman Gelang Emas, Gelang Patah, Johor Bahru
Hours: 09:30am to 10:30pm (Closed on alternate Thursdays)
Date visited: 28 Oct 2012, 28 Nov 2012, 29 Jul 2013, 16 May 2014