If we mention the term “super oxide dismutase”, would it mean anything to you? We reckon, probably not. No worries, because SOD Café is here to provide a whole new level of bubble tea goodness full of this beneficial anti-oxidant, which helps to remove toxins, as well as prevent and neutralise the free radicals that can damage our body. Their bubble teas are also caffeine-free, which is great for those of us who treasure a restful night’s sleep (because, who doesn’t?).
Besides refreshing bubble tea, SOD Café also serves up savoury treats for when chewing on boba isn’t enough. Located in Ci Yuan Community Centre, the café boasts plenty of natural light, is spacious and will play host to diners with its affable staff. Its menu will make any foodie salivate with its diverse offerings from pizzas to all-day breakfasts to burgers and waffles; you name it, they’ve got it! Speaking with SOD Café’s owner, we got an insightful peak into what makes this buzzing café such a hit amongst its patrons.
What inspired your establishment?
Robust and life compact (parent company of SOD cafe) has always been concerned with the health of its esteemed customers. Leveraging on the market trend then, we decided to utilise our popular tea series to create a healthier alternative of bubble tea to serve the masses. It was consistent with our mission – which is to provide premium health products to benefit their well-being. As we continue to expand further, we seek to continue placing customers as our top priority and maintain the highest standards in serving them.
What was the biggest challenge you have had to overcome professionally?
Professionally, the biggest challenge that I have had to overcome is to manage manpower. Especially in Singapore, it’s not easy due to increased demands from workers. Thus, I had a lot of manpower crisis in the past and it continues to remain as a problem. This requires much patience and effort in maintaining a healthy workforce.
Why the expansion from just selling bubble tea to a full-fledged café, with all-day breakfast?
As mentioned above, we started SOD Café with the mission of spreading a healthier version of bubble tea to the masses. Soon after, when it got more and more popular, we decided that food and other forms of beverages should be provided to extend our reach to our loyal customers. Thus, at SOD Café, we hope to be able to always bring good food that is value for money to our esteemed customers.
What do you believe to be the secret ingredient to a restaurant’s success?
The secret ingredient to a restaurant’s success should be its customers. Why do I say that? We exist to satisfy the needs of the customers. A happy customer will generate profit for the company, inevitably. Thus, it’s of utmost importance to always find out what a customer wants and to ensure that everyone leaves the restaurant a happy person. If our food is unsatisfying, then we’ll improve on our food. If our service is below standard, then we’ll improve on our service. If our air-con is too cold, then let’s increase the temperature. Listen to the customers and you’ll never be wrong. In fact, you’ll create a lifetime supply of customers that will ensure sustainability for the company.
What common misconceptions do people hold about your job? What’s true, what is not?
The common misconception that people have about my job is that I will become fat cause I’m always dealing with food. However, I make it necessary for me to exercise and to always keep fit. Weekdays when I’m more free, I join a few yoga and dancing classes to ensure that I keep my exercise routine in check.
What is the funniest thing you have read about yourself in the media?
I have not read anything funny about myself on social media as I do not maintain an active social media account. However, I do see a lot of funny things on social media.
Singaporean influencers have been incremental in adopting early to a variety of social media platforms. Apart from your website, your brand is also shown on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How important do you think these platforms are in getting your message across?
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. I feel that it’s important to leverage on a trend rather than to fight it. Thus, I think that social media is an important platform for us to utilise to get our message across. It is useful in many ways – to broadcast the company values and mission, to communicate our brand, to maintain customers’ relationship and such. We should embrace it and learn to utilise it for full effects.
What is your favourite food in Singapore?
Eating is my passion and I love eating. There are too many favourite foods that I can think of, but if I had to name one, it would be local Laksa.
Your biggest culinary sin?
My biggest culinary sin is fried chicken wings. I always go for fried chicken wings as they are so delicious.
History typically plays an intrinsic role in the cuisines a nation eats – how has this affected Singaporean food and/or its food scene in general?
Singapore has a long history of racial harmony. This was made possible by our late founding father – Lee Kuan Yew. I cannot thank him enough for that. Today, we get to enjoy the plethora of cuisines and food options and it is due to his foresight. The rich culture of food in Singapore is primarily due to the racial harmony that we are enjoying. I’m really glad that this is inculcated in our culture and hope that it continues to flourish in the future.
Do you have any personal opinion about the increasing trend of hawkers going upmarket, with their craft beer stalls and high quality Western fare? If so, why?
I think that it’s a good sign that they are going upmarket. Whilst it may be a bad thing as it means direct competitors, the fact that it is going upmarket suggests that more and more people are looking for these food trends. At SOD Café, we provide such food and hope to build a reputation for ourselves for serving the best café food at affordable prices. With the improved economy in Singapore, going upmarket is a natural phenomenon and food prices will only continue to increase. Thus, we should embrace this trend and SOD Café hopes to become a leader in it.
A must-try recipe for lazy week night?
A must-try recipe for lazy week night has got to be our churros. I would recommend it as I have received a lot of positive reviews about it and continuous effort has been put into improving the taste and look of it. I highly recommend everyone to come on down and try our delicious churros!
Which are your 5 favourite places to enjoy good food globally?
Japan, Korean, Thailand, Malaysia and Mexico
Do any of your friends or family members influence you in your decision when it comes to what you serve in the restaurant?
Yes, they do! Eventually, the café is opened with family in mind. Thus, it is important that I do listen to the opinions of my family members, so that I can better cater to other families in Singapore. Besides, my kids are usually more updated on food trends than I am. Hence, it is important for me to consult them at times, to understand what’s trending in the market.
What was the funniest / most surprising / best / most gruesome food delivery experience you have had so far?
The funniest food delivery experience that I had was with McDonald’s. I placed an order for a McChicken Meal and when the delivery man came, he gave me 4 orders of fries! I was really surprised by the huge confusion and immediately launched a complaint with their support staff. How can anyone mix up the orders that badly? Fortunately for me, I was compensated for the whole McChicken meal and ended up having to eat 5 packets of fries for dinner.
Which traits and characteristics of service, based on your own experiences, matter most in premium food delivery?
The most important trait is to listen to the customers. This means that we have to be active in serving our customers and listen to their requests, complaints and feedback. I firmly believe that only with satisfied customers, would I be able to claim that I’m offering premium food being delivered.
Complete the sentence: On Saturdays, I am most likely to…
On Saturdays, I am most likely to be at the café serving customers. This café is my passion and I really love to see happy people enjoying their food. Thus, there is no greater pleasure than to be at the café, talking with my customers and making sure that everything is perfect for them.
What is your biggest dream for the future, and how are you hoping to achieve it?
My biggest dream for the future is that my kids would grow up to be successful. Raising 5 children is never an easy task. To see all of them grow up maturely and have a healthy family, would be a blessing to me. As we know, education in Singapore is expensive. To provide them with the best, I have to work really hard to ensure that my income exceeds my expenses. This requires hard work daily and I will not stop till I achieve my dreams.
Finally, share your very own signature dish and its recipe with us!
My very own signature dish is the Supreme Chicken. Frankly, there is no secret recipe, but the most important thing is that it has to be fresh. We ensure that our food is fresh all the time. Fresh meat should be tender and juicy at the same time. If you get a chance to try our Supreme Chicken, I assure you that you will fall in love with it immediately!
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.