Category Archives: Food Quality

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Cracking open the history of the fortune cookie

Despite popular beliefs, fortune cookies are an American invention. There are many theories, and much speculation surrounding the mysterious origin. They originated in California, but who the actual inventor was, has continued to be a matter of debate.
One history of the fortune cookie claims that David Jung, a Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, invented the cookie in 1918. Due to his concern with the poor, he felt obliged to pass out free cookies on the streets. Each cookie contained a strip of paper with an inspirational Bible scripture.

Another history claims that the fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara. An anti-Japanese mayor fired him from his job, but later he was reinstated. Grateful to those who had stood by him, he created a cookie in 1914 that included a thank you note inside.

In 1983, San Francisco’s legal Court of Historical Review held a mock trial to determine the origins of the fortune cookie. Unsurprisingly, the judge ruled in favour of San Francisco. Among the evidence was a fortune cookie whose message read: “S.F. Judge who rules for L.A. Not Very Smart Cookie.” However, this ruling was denounced soon after.
Desserts were not traditionally part of Chinese cuisine, and the cookies thus offered Americans something familiar with an exotic flair. Fortune cookies then became common in Chinese restaurants after World War II.
As for predicting the future, no, fortune cookies do not predict whether you’re going to bump into a tall handsome stranger. Unless they’re telling you that you’re going to meet at Chopstix. Because then those special powers of foresight are spot on!

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Curries from around the World

Curries have established themselves as a staple Asian dish, with many diverse flavours coming from various countries across the world. Different regions all have their unique curry, so a curry’s flavour and cooking technique is heavily dependent on where it’s from!

The word curry actually derives from Western culture to refer to a variety of dishes originating in South Asian countries. The name is adopted from the Tamil word “kari” meaning “relish for rice.” Curries contain a versatile mix of spices, fresh herbs and chillies, and the proportions of these ingredients vary depending on national, regional, religious or family traditions.

A curry blend usually comprises of turmeric, coriander, cumin and hot chili peppers, but it can also include a variety of other spices including cinnamon, ginger, garlic, cardamom, tamarind and fenugreek.

The yellow-orange powder that you might find in stores here is commercially prepared with a mix of spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and chili peppers. It gets its yellow colour from the turmeric. Many of these same ingredients closely reflect garam masala, a spice mix used in North India.

While Indian dishes tend to use more dry spices, Thai cuisine often uses curry paste and fresh herbs. Thai curries are cooked for shorter period of time and typically include vegetables and chicken. Thai curries deliver the heat upfront because of those fresh ingredients. Thai curry paste usually is made from fresh chilies, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, with spices such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric.

Chopstix offers a variety of Oriental flavours, so there is something for everyone’s taste on our menu. All our dishes are prepared freshly on site by our talented chefs using authentic ingredients and spices. Can you handle the heat? Why not try a curry on your next visit!ChineseCurryChicken

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Sweet & Sour Oriental Origins

The Sweet & Sour Chicken is a mainstay item in almost all Chinese restaurants in the Western world, with its signature, as the name suggests, sweet and sour taste. However the recipe did not originate in China, but rather in the China Towns of the United States. The Chinese immigrants there found that their somewhat spicier items did not go very well with the Western palette, so they came up with some alternative and sweeter dishes. You can guess what recipe came out of that! Sweet & Sour Chicken!

Usually the Chinese use the sweet and sour flavour for fish recipes rather than for chicken and serve it on the side for dipping. In fact the Chinese are quite amused with the Western fascination with the Sweet & Sour Sauce based dishes.

Sweet and sour dishes are not unique to China. They are enjoyed by many cultures and cuisines. South East Asian and Indian food have some sweet-sour items, but generally tend towards the sour and salty. In West Asia, Middle East and North Africa the sharp and sweet qualities of fruits such as apricots and pomegranates are utilized in meat dishes. Even our very own Britain has its sweet and sour combinations such as chutneys and brown sauces which are very popular.

Chopstix combines the classical association of the Oriental Five Flavours of: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent and Bitter. The Chinese do not use as much sweet as we do, and their recipes tend to be more on the bitter side creating the sweet and sour flavour by mostly mixing vinegar with sugar. We do have more of a sweet tooth!

For the Chinese, food is treated with utmost respect, and is associated with health, luck and prosperity. Even though at Chopstix we have our own fusion twist on the Sweet & Sour Chicken, we do treat our food with the same respect and associate it with the same values. The Sweet & Sour Chicken is one of our most popular toppings and we can’t imagine not having it on our menu.

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Consistency in Operations

Running a business, any business, is a hard and demanding job. Exploring the world of franchising is an exciting possibility that offers great rewards for those who dare and try. Consistency in brand and operations is key, it is what brings home the bacon, but in our case the chicken!

Chopstix co-founder, Sam Elia said: “The success of Chopstix over the last decade to now is attributed to the operations team both above and below site. It is due to our consistency and standards across business processes and procedures that we are expanding so fast. Regardless of which Chopstix Noodle Bar our employees work at, they all have the same procedures and level of standards to follow. This is what ensures our customers always have the same Chopstix experience every time!”

Now having processes and procedures in place is one thing, it is another thing to actually have them executed. You need to provide your employees with the right tools and a good training program to achieve that consistency in operations. At Chopstix we have a full operational training manual available on our online Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Noodles, and we provide a comprehensive four week on-site training program for franchisees, restaurant managers, chefs and sales advisors in one of our centres of excellence. We provide frequent training with regular operational reviews and improvements. This is what allows you to maintain your standards throughout.

Following an integrated standards program will help you in many ways, ranging from making strategic decisions to daily operational actions. It:

  • Gives you stability and visibility in your business
  • Helps you optimise your productivity and cost management
  • Simplify internal communication and collaboration with franchisees
  • Improves your assessment, planning and scheduling of your operations

Chopstix offers a lucrative business model, backed by sustainable growth for investors in the quick-service restaurant sector. Our training is designed to help our franchisees learn how to maintain the same high standards in each site. This is our recipe for success!

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Good Food Quality means Happy Customers

People love eating out in the UK, with 74% of us eating out between one and six times a week in 2014. That’s a huge number! With so many people going out to eat, there are several factors that influence the answer to the oh so difficult question: “Where to eat out today?”

Type of cuisine, price, location, customer service and most importantly food quality are all points to consider. According to recent research by Grass Roots, 46% of people said that food quality was important to their overall experience. Now there is a general prejudice that more expensive and traditional (posh) restaurants have good food quality and that quick-service restaurants, such as ourselves, don’t. That is a big misconception! In fact it is only last year that quick-service restaurants outperformed full-service restaurants with a 77% customer satisfaction rate in the National Customer Satisfaction Index 2014.

Chopstix pride ourselves on delivering excellent food quality for good value for money. We love to see our customers leave our restaurants with full tummies and smiles on their faces! Chopstix is dedicated to delivering delicious meals, using fresh vegetables and quality chicken breast, cooking fresh every day, facing those sizzling woks day in day out, cooking small quantities to maintain freshness, not adding any additives (our food is tasty by itself!). All our operations are geared to deliver the best meal possible!

CK Li, our Executive Head Chef, the skilful hand behind Chopstix’s signature dishes said: “Any chef worth their salt should strive to cook mouth-watering meals. I have always carried this passion to cook the best I can which is something I have trained all the Chopstix chefs in. Everything else comes later, first your food should be great!”

So the next time you find yourself asking, “Where to eat out today?” visit one of our Chopstix Noodle Bars where you’ll always find our food hot, fresh and delicious!