Text by Julia Chan
How Japan Foods’ Central Kitchen Supplies Quality and Authentic Japanese Cuisine In Bulk
Established in 1997, Japan Foods Holding Ltd is one of the leading F&B groups in Singapore with more than 50 restaurants specialising in quality and authentic Japanese cuisine. Some of its franchise restaurant brands include Ajisen Ramen, Kazokutei, Menya Musashi and Osaka Ohsho. Japan Foods also operates a range of self-developed brands and concepts such as Fruit Paradise, Ramen Ichiro, and Pizzakaya.
Bachmann Japanese Restaurant Pte Ltd is the production facility of Japan Foods Holding Ltd. Its central kitchen, located at 171 Kampong Ampat, is responsible for supplying and producing consistent and high-quality food products to all the group’s restaurant outlets.
Mr Ichiro Otsuka, Factory Manager of Bachmann Japanese Restaurant Pte Ltd, said, “Most people will be surprised to learn that our central kitchen produces more than 3 million portion of ramen per year, and we also import our raw materials directly from Japan to produce authentic Japanese cuisine for Singapore consumers.”
Managing large economies of scale
Bachmann Japanese Restaurant has a total of 322 employees, of which about 60% are local staff, and the ages of its central kitchen employees range from 41 to 72 years old.
However, in the past, workers had to spend long hours in the kitchen preparing food. For example, each pot of ramen soup (72kg per pot) required two workers to manually stir the soup for about 7 to 8 hours, which was extremely exhausting and time consuming. The central kitchen also faced challenges in hiring local staff due to the labour-intensive workload and hot environment.
With such a massive target to achieve to supply the restaurants, the group recognised the importance to further enhance operational efficiency and productivity, while creating easier, safer, and smarter jobs.
Mr Otsuka explained, “As one of the largest F&B groups in Singapore specialising in Japanese cuisine, which is mainly in ramen shop, our Central Kitchen goal is to supply consistent, high quality products and at the same time, create a better and safe environment for our workers.”
New kitchen equipment to the rescue
Fortunately, with support and funding from NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) via the WorkPro Job Redesign Initiative, Bachmann Japanese Restaurant was able to purchase an automatic pressure cooker which eliminated the need for the mature workers to manually stir the soup and control the fire.
This equipment came with temperature control and auto stirring which halved the time to cook the soup from 8 hours to 4 hours. Because of the increased capacity of the pressure cooker, the central kitchen could now produce about 126kg of ramen soup per cooking time (up from 72kg), and only one person was needed to operate the equipment instead of two.
A happy employee, Mr Raymond Soo Wai Kit, Kitchen Leader of the soup section, was glad that his work became less tedious as the machine could take over some of the laborious job processes. He worried less about fire safety as the pressure cooker was equipped with a fire safety mechanism. He was also pleasantly surprised that the equipment did not really emit as much heat as the traditional cookers, which made the work environment cooler compared to the past.
Bachmann Japanese Restaurant also purchased a Vertical Meat Blender funded under e2i’s Workpro Job Redesign initiative. This blender eliminated the need to defrost the meat for about 2 to 3 hours before blending, and could blend up to 600kg within half a day!
Mr Otsuka, the factory manager, was extremely pleased with the outcome after implementing the new kitchen equipment.
“With the help of e2i, we are able to purchase the machines that not only can save our time and cost; but also can create a safer and better work environment for our workers. This is in line with our Company’s business philosophy of creating and nurturing positive employees by taking care of their needs and well-being, while creating the best products that can satisfy our customers,” he said.
Win-win for both company and employees
With the implementation of the new kitchen equipment, the company could increase productivity and workers had more time to handle other higher-level tasks due to the time saved. Impacted mature workers enjoyed a wage increase due to the productivity gains.
Mr Ichiro said, “We want to ensure that there is care, respect and support from both employee and employer to get their job done with their best ability for the company benefit, so that the company can share the saving of costs with employees.”
To learn more about Japan Foods Holding Ltd and Bachmann Japanese Restaurant Pte Ltd, visit:
All photos courtesy of Bachmann Japanese Restaurant Pte Ltd.