Opening of a new oriental store and cafe in the Highlands

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Bringing something new to a city can be both daunting and exciting. Will the concept work? Will people come? These are all questions Kenny Mei, 28, asked himself before launching Invergordon’s first oriental store.

He thinks it is the northernmost store of its kind.

Opened about a month ago, K Style Oriental Market and Café has already undergone another renovation since its launch due to the amount of stock it receives as a result of customer demand.

Kenny sources much of his oriental products from London and ships them north.

Owner Kenny Mei, right, and his staff.

When I speak with Kenny, he has just returned from the Chinese takeaway restaurant he opened a week before the UK was forced into lockdown in March 2020.

In search of a calmer, slower pace of life, it was a holiday in the Highlands that inspired the entrepreneur to move to Invergordon after selling his restaurant in Manchester two years ago.

Some of the products available for purchase.

With Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese and Hong Kong ingredients, the K Style Oriental Market and Café brings a whole new offering to the area, and Kenny and his team have done everything they can to attract customers.

He said, “There was no oriental market here before, so it was quite popular. There is a market in Inverness, but nothing else really.

The staff prepares samples for customers to try and also gives advice on how to use the ingredients.

“We hold tastings in the shop to teach people how to use some of the sauces and ingredients in their cooking. People really appreciate that.

“We had had a lot of feedback from our takeaway customers who wanted to buy Chinese ingredients but they were so expensive online. I wanted to bring Chinese street food to the Highlands.

Hong Kong Baked Goods

Located at Old Admiralty Pier on Shore Road, just around the corner from its High Street takeaway, customers can also sample a range of food in the cafe in the market building.

From Korean fried chicken, Asian fusion burgers and bubble tea, there are even Hong Kong style baked goods available for purchase which are made by Kenny’s head chef who has over 15 years of experience .

Some of Hong Kong’s bread rolls.

Items available at the bakery include Chinese Chicken Curry Buns, Thick Potato Curry Buns, Honey Roasted Pork Buns, and Coconut Buns.

“Our Hong Kong baked goods have been very popular. My master chef, who is based in Manchester, makes all the fresh baked goods in a commercial kitchen,” Kenny said. “They are then transported to Invergordon every week.”

“The flavors of the savory rolls aren’t too traditional. I knew locals loved curry flavors as the dishes were popular for take out. You can put anything like spicy beef and pork and sesame in it, it’s more traditional.

One of the Asian fusion burgers.

“Sliced ​​Swiss cream rolls are also available and they come as a whole roll, but we cut them into slices. There is a lot of cream and they are very tasty. We even have an Oreo chocolate and it’s very popular.

“We have original Taiwanese bubble tea available – all tea leaves are from Taiwan.”

bubble tea,

Market products that everyone likes

Customers will find all kinds of goods available for purchase in the market, including snacks, drinks, noodles, sauces, spices, and more.

“Everyone loves dim sum and Japanese drinks. At the cafe, we offer yum cha (brunch) dishes which are Chinese tea and dim sum,” he added.

The aisles are lined with a range of products.

“We are adding products as we go. We had about 70% of all the items we wanted for opening, and we’ll just be adding to the shelves as we go.

“I really want to help educate customers about oriental flavors. The staff will be able to advise the best products for our customers and can help them whatever the cuisine.

Beginning his hospitality career as a kitchen porter aged just 12, he worked in Michelin restaurants specializing in Asian fusion cuisine and had his own restaurant, the No. 8 hot pot restaurant in Manchester.

Outside Oriental Market and K-style cafe.

Kenny has employed seven staff for the store, with three additional weekend staff, and has two chefs working in the kitchen – his brother-in-law and himself.

“I like to cook a lot, but I thought it was important to offer something different.

“I think there’s this perception that Chinese cuisine has to be something special, but actually you should enjoy different cuisines together and I think that’s what we’re really trying to do.”

The store is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.


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