March 2019



Welcome to the March issue of the USAPEEC ASEAN Regional Office’s newsletter.

This newsletter seeks to provide readers with useful product and major market information for institutional and consumer users of U.S. poultry. Readers will find a variety of general market information, program activities as well as useful product information.

This issue, we share several activities that took place in Southeast Asia.


  • Walking Street Vientiane: A quiet gem not quite off the beaten track
  • Celebrate this Easter in casual Eggs-travagance
  • Thai culinary students compete for opportunity to train under Michelin-starred chef
  • Celebrating Fried Chicken, a regular delight in different cuisines
  • Impact of the Singapore Budget 2019 on restaurants
  • Boutique hotels in ASEAN embrace local dining trends for success
  • News Bites





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Walking Street Vientiane: A quiet gem not quite off the beaten track

The sun sets. Roadblocks show up. Streets lights come on. A network of narrow alleyways and courtyards transforms into a magical setting with numerous vendors selling a wide range of food and trinkets.

Welcome to Walking Street, a quiet gem tucked within a nest of low-rise buildings. It is a stone’s throw away from the madding crowd of the Vientiane Night Market along the Mekong River. While Walking Street lacks the size and liveliness of the Vientiane Night Market, it is quaint, and cozy, embodying an understated vibrant buzz. It provides visitors with a magical feeling as they stroll down various alleys viewing the varied mix of vendor offerings.

As night falls, the narrow lanes and courtyards between buildings slowly fill up with pop-up stalls, open-air hippy bars, and funky eateries. Laotian street food is plentiful here. But one can easily locate food stalls selling Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Western food too. The most popular stalls offer traditional hotpots and local grilled chicken. Most stalls offer their own seating, and the varied assortment of seats – plastic stools, recycled crates, and hippy sofas – enriches the quaint and cozy atmosphere.

It is common to see people strolling, and munching on the traditional charcoal grilled chicken and vegetable skewers as they decide on where to settle down for a proper meal. Many will also be seen sipping vivid colored drinks from a lightbulb-shaped bottle. Good food, reasonable prices, and a cozy ambience. This gem is a good place to chill out after a long busy day.


Grilled meats from a local vendor (Photo: Street vj. Shutterstock)

Light bulb drinks (Photo: Ezequiel Gimenez. Shutterstock)


Celebrate this Easter in casual Eggs-travagance

The long Easter weekend is just around the corner, and parents in Singapore often think of activities which they can enjoy with their little ones.

One increasingly popular choice is to have long hearty brunches as local restaurants offering Easter festivities linked meals. Prominent examples include the YardBird Southern Table & Bar and the RISE restaurant. Both are located at the Marina Bay Sands, a luxury and lifestyle hotel located in the city centre.

YardBird serves classic Southern American dishes and will be enticing customers to drop by for An Indulgent Easter Celebration. The menu includes the 100-year-old family recipe Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles.

RISE restaurant will be offering a lavish Easter brunch spread comprising of whole roasted black angus tomahawk with yorkshire pudding and gravy, soft poached eggs with truffle potato foam, baked apple pudding with cinnamon custard sauce, and Mac & Cheese for the kids. Children will also have the opportunity to interact with an Easter bunny and participate in the RISE annual Easter egg hunt at the herb garden.


Fried chicken wings with waffles and sliced watermelon


Thai culinary students compete for opportunity to train under Michelin-starred chef

The competition for the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam to train under the two-star Michelin Chef Onno Kokmeijer is intense amongst culinary students in Thailand.

Organized by the Okura Prestige Bangkok, the hotel is currently accepting applications for its third annual cooking competition. The winner of the competition will receive a nine-day educational trip to Hotel Okura Amsterdam and the chance to learn from two-star Michelin Chef Onno Kokmeijer. The nine-day educational trip is estimated to be worth 100,000 Baht (US$3,158). However, the opportunity to learn under Chef Onno Kokmeijer would be priceless.

Chef Onno Kokmeijer heads the two-star Michelin Ciel Bleu restaurant in Hotel Okura Amsterdam. He was also awarded the title SVH Meesterchef (master chef) by the Dutch hospitality organization, Stichting Vakbekwaamheid Horeca. The SVH ‘master’ title is the highest honour awarded by the Dutch hospitality industry.

The Okura Prestige Bangkok annual cooking competition is open to any Thai culinary student studying in an accredited university or vocational institute aged between 18 to 25-years old.

Participants in a local culinary students competition


Celebrating Fried Chicken, a regular delight in different cuisines

Fried chicken has always been a secret guilty pleasure among many of us. Not many can resist that juicy, well marinated, crispy comfort food while discarding all dieting concerns. It evokes childhood memories including birthday celebrations and family gatherings. It is often paired with chilled beer and can be found in hawker centers, coffee shops, fast food outlets, restaurants, cafes, and bars. 
The origin of our love affair with fried chicken may be found in a local all-time favorite dish – nasi lemak. It is a coconut rice dish served with fried egg, cucumber, ikan billis (anchovies), otak otak (spicy fish paste), and most important of all, fried chicken wings. Punggol Nasi Lemak is one of the most popular nasi lemak stalls in Singapore. It is well known for their super crispy and succulent chicken wings.

“Har Cheong Kai” (Prawn Paste Chicken) is also a popular local dish. Served primarily in Chinese restaurants and in some “zi char” (cooked-to-order meals) stalls in the heartlands, the chicken is coated with flour and fermented shrimp paste before being deep-fried to perfection.

With the invasion of Korean pop culture, Korean style fried chicken has fast developed into a craze in Singapore. Some of the popular joints include 4 Fingers, Oven & Fried Chicken, Kko Na Ra, and Chicken Up.

Of course, there is also the classic western style fried chicken sold at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants and the American Diner OverEasy with its spicy version of fried chicken. 

Diners in a popular chicken wing restaurant

Fried Chicken Wings offered in different spiced versions being served in a chicken wing restaurant


Impact of the Singapore Budget 2019 on restaurants

The Food & Beverage (F&B) industry was cited by the Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as one of the segments in the service industry that remains “very labor intensive” during his Budget 2019 speech. Amidst a tight labor market, the industry is increasingly dependent on foreign manpower. Foreign labor has grown by three percent annually – that is 34,000 in three years.1 This is causing government concern and rightly so, as it is unsustainable. As a result, the government announced that foreign worker quota in services sector will be cut to 35% by 2021.
Technology as a means to cope with manpower shortage
Recognizing this, F&B stores have turned to technology as a solution to alleviate the impending manpower shortage. From cashless payment to tray return robots, and mobile ordering applications, cafes, fast-food chains and even hawkers centers, have begun to embrace such solutions. Late last year, Millennium Hotels deployed the Autonomous Service Chef Associate (AUSCA) at five of its properties’ restaurants. AUSCA, the egg-cooking robot, can whip up eggs of any kind – from creamy scrambled eggs to fluffy omelets and perfect sunny-side ups. What’s more? It can work twice as fast as a human being.2
Roost, a specialty restaurant serving Hainanese Chicken Rice, has also adopted an automated poultry cooking machine. It can poach, braise and sous-vide up to nine whole chickens simultaneously. This allows the chickens to be cooked at a pre-programmed temperature for the right amount of time, and with minimal supervision.3 However, it is important to recognize that technology innovations can do more than raising productivity levels and reducing reliance on manpower. They serve to boost customer experience too.
Enhancing the customer experience
From staying on top of orders, to anticipating seasonal favorites or offering personalized orders, eateries need to use technology to engage diners in meaningful ways. One interesting example of technology adoption is at OLDTOWN White Coffee – a restaurant chain originally from Malaysia. At its Singapore outlet in Suntec City, the restaurant has a built-in camera at its self-ordering kiosk. The camera uses facial recognition technology to identify regular patrons, display their favorite orders, and take orders under a minute.4

  1. Budget 2019: Foreign worker quota in services sector to be cut to 35% by 2021
  2. 40% Of F&B Businesses Are Doomed To Fail - Here’s How You Can Survive And Thrive
  3. Can these food technologies transform F&B businesses in Singapore?
  4. Eatery chains woo younger diners with smart technology, hip interiors and better food variety

Autonomous Service Chef Associate: An egg-cooking robot (Photo: Beast & Butterflies Facebook Page)

An automated poultry cooking machine (Photo: ROOST Facebook Page)

OLDTOWN White Coffee self-ordering kiosk (Credits: OLDTOWN White Coffee Singapore Facebook Page)


Boutique hotels in ASEAN embrace local dining trends for success

At first glance, boutique hotels are seemingly no match for international chains. Yet, these smaller properties are competing with the big boys by opening restaurants that tap on local trends and vibes. Hospitality Ventures Management Group, which specializes in turning around and repositioning underperforming hotels, takes on the approach of tying boutique hotels’ restaurants and bars to the local community. And boutique hotels in ASEAN are adopting a similar strategy to enhance guests’ dining experience.
Last year, Malaysia’s Alila Bangsar Hotel opened its French Dining restaurant – Entier – offering French cuisines with a twist. Local produced ingredients are used. One such dish is its whole Bidor duck – a local duck from the farms of Ipoh – whole roasted and confit with pomelo and watercress salad.1 Chef Masashi Horiuchi was impressed with its texture, quality, and taste, even highlighting that it tastes better than the French ducks.2

Patrons of Entier can choose to have a sweet end to their meal with Entier’s dark chocolate soufflé. This egg-based dessert is accompanied with 70 percent single origin Pahang cocoa sourced from local chocolate purveyor Chocolate Concierge. A journalist described it as “feather-light and airy with decadent” with the “dark chocolate flavors submerged in every spoonful.”3 A cocoa delight indeed!
Closer to home, Village Hotel Katong, located in Singapore’s enclave for Peranakans, serves up Peranakan cuisine at its restaurant – Katong Kitchen. A favorite is its signature Ayam Buah Keluak. Known as one of the most labor-intensive Peranakan dish to prepare, Ayam Buah Keluak is a staple dish of the Peranakans in Singapore. It is made with chicken (ayam) braised in a thick, spicy tamarind gravy with buah keluak nuts.4

  1. Entier French Dining Facebook Page
  2. French nose-to-tail dining at KL's Entier, helmed by Japanese chef
  3. Fantastic French nose-to-tail dining at Entier
  4. Ayam buah keluak



Bidor Duck, whole roasted and confit with pomelo and watercress salad (Photo:Entier French Dining Facebook Page

Chocolate soufflé (Photo: Entier French Dining Facebook Page)

Ayam Buah Keluak (Photo: Katong Kitchen Facebook Page)


News Bites: March

Poipot border town to see Big C Supercenter

Big C Super Center Plc. will invest US$6.8 million to build a Big C Supercenter in Poipot, a town that shares its border with Thailand. The Supercenter was approved by the Council for Development Cambodia on 20th February 2019.

Country’s first subway allocated room for 16 retail outlets

Indonesia’s first subway system, PT Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Jakarta, allocated space in 5 of its stations for 16 small and medium sized enterprise outlets. Of the 16 outlets, 8 are designated food outlets, supported by 5 fashion outlets and three handcraft shops.

American pretzel franchise launches first outlet in Myanmar

Auntie Anne’s, a popular American Pretzel chain, opens its first outlet in Myanmar in Junction City Mall in Yangon. The master franchise partner for Auntie Anne’s in Myanmar is granted to Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. The company said in a press release that the decision to bring in Auntie Anne’s under baked goods category was made after an in-depth study of dining preference of resident consumers.

Rakhine opens new beaches for hotel investments

Several beaches along the state of Rakhine coast will be open to new hotel projects to draw in tourism investments, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Rakhine State Government. The Ministry has designated the Gyite Taw, Maw Yone and Maung Shwe Lay beaches in Southern Rakhine as new hotel destinations due to their proximity to existing popular beaches such as Ngapali beach.

Central Bank to implement QR code system this year

Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) is set to implement QR (Quick Response) code payment system this year. CBM is currently in talks with international payment firms to coordinate a standardized national standard QR codes to be used within the country.

Jewel Changi Airport opens on 17th April

Jewel Changi Airport, a S$1.7 billion (US$1.25 billion) lifestyle and retail development, will officially be open for business on 17th April this year. The development boasts of 280 retail outlets, lush greenery, two walking trails, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Several F&B brands that will be launching their first outlet in the country with the opening of the Jewel, including Swiss Chocolatier Laderach, Norwegian seafood restaurant Pink Fish, London’s Burger and Lobster, and American Shake Shack.

Singapore to develop new Agri-food Innovation Park

Singapore will build a new Agri-food Innovation Park to develop the country’s food and agri-tech sector. The first phase of the 18-hectare park will be completed from the second quarter of 2021.

MOH to ban partially hydrogenated oils

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on 6th March 2019 that it is planning to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO). Fats and oils on sale in Singapore are currently allowed to contain up to 2% of trans fat. The new ban will also apply to packaged food such as noodles and biscuits.

GSB to extend B5 billion in loans to food vendors

State-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) will strive to extend B5 billion (US$157.6 million) of loans to street food vendors this year at a rate of 0.5-0.85% a month. Street food hawkers may apply for B100,000 (US$3,151) loan. Food truck vendors may apply for B500,000 (US$15,758) loan. In 2018, GSB extended B3 billion (US$94.5) in loans to street vendors.

Erawan Group to launch 3 new budget hotels

Erawan Group will launch three new budget hotels in Bangkok this year. The new hotels, Hop Inn Chaengwattana, Hop Inn Rangsit and Mercure Ibis Sukhumvit 24, will cater to both local and international customers. The group will be investing B3 billion (US$94.5) in refurbishing existing hotels and new hotels this year.

AOT approve guidelines to auction retail licenses for Suvarnabhumi Airport

State-owned Airports of Thailand Pcl (AOT) approved guidelines on Wednesday 20th February to open retail space at Bangkok's international Suvarnabhumi Airport to new players. King Power whose sole license for duty-free retail, commercial activity at all of Thailand's major airports is set to expire next year.

Taiwanese Louisa Coffee launched first store in Bangkok

Louisa Coffee, a Taiwanese chain, launched its first store in Amarin Plaza Bangkok in March 2019, capitalizing on rising popularity of coffee in the country. Coffee consumption in Thailand amounted to 70,000-80,000 tons annually in the past 3-5 years. Consumption is expected to grow to more than 300,000 tons a year within the next three years.
First Taco Bell outlet opens in Bangkok

Taco Bell opened its first outlet in Thailand on 24th January this year. Flavors and spice levels in the corn-based snack being sold in Bangkok were ramped up to appeal to Thai palates. Taco Bell Group said in a press release that the company plans to open 40 branches in Thailand over the next 5 years.

Franchise business to grow 10% in 2019

Gnosis Co, a franchise consultancy, told local media that the number of new franchise brands in Thailand is expected to grow by 10% to 630 brands. Gnosis said that currently there are more than 50 food and services chains looking into opportunities in Thailand this year. The Thai franchise business is estimated to be worth about B250-300 billion (US$7.9-9.5 billion).

Hyatt Hotels to build hotel on Phu Quoc Island

Hyatt Hotels Corporation entered an agreement with Vietnamese BIM Group which participates in tourism development and real estate to develop the Park Hyatt Hotel on Phu Quoc Island which is a 30 min drive from Phu Quoc International Airport. The hotel is expected to open in 2022.

Wyndham opens first hotel in Hanoi

Wyndham Hotel & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company, launched its first hotel in Hanoi. Wyndham Garden Hanoi is an upper-midscale hotel developed by PPC An Thịnh Investment and Infrastructure Development JSC (PPCAT). Wyndham Garden Hanoi is Wyndham’s second property in Vietnam after Wyndham Legend Halong. Wyndham Soleil Danang, a third project, is scheduled to commence operations later this year.


Disclaimer: All opinions and views expressed in the articles published in the newsletter are those of the individual journalists and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher, the newsletter's sponsors or USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

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