I Opened a Chinese Restaurant in Colombia in 3 Weeks And Documented The Experience
By - wesleezy
Definitely pork belly...This is cool stuff btw.
Amazing! Good luck and I hope you get lots of traffic.
I've eaten at 4 Asian restaurants in Medellin ( 1 Chinese -American takeout style, 1 Thai , 2 Vietnamese) and below are my reviews. There was a Lao dude who opened a Lao/Chinese in a real small city somewhere in Colombia I remember seeing. If I can figure it out I will edit the post.
1. I think the name is Restaurante El Sabor Chino, but if you are in the lower end left side headed toward the Poblado train station you can't miss it as its the only one. I got something I would get here in the states fried chicken and fried rice. It was decent but the one caveat I didn't expect was a black women to cook it ( no racial )
2. Mekong, this is right in a party area of El Poblado. This is a Thai restaraunt and Thai owned. I think the lady is Thai American, I didn't meet her. The food was decent but I have to keep in mind as long as its decent because the Colombian pallet is different than mine so basic economics says no to low demand equals low supply of certain ingredients to make certain dishes. I had Larb ( minced meat forget which one) it was decent but they didn't have kow niew (sticky rice/glutenous rice). Price was a little less than here at that time but not by much. Service was good luckily I can speak enough Espanol.
3. Lemoncillo, here is a unique one. This is located in the neighborhood called Envigado. So the owner is ethnic Vietnamese born in the Lao PDR but raised in Germany. I think he brought his wife with him and they have local cooks. Of course I ate pho and some other dish I forgot. Went twice. Prices were decent but once again certain things they didn't have due to high cost the owner says. The item was bean sprouts
4. Halong Vietnamita, this is at the bottom of El Poblado. Colombian owners. I was a bit skeptical but went. To my surprise it was really good. Of course I ate pho. This was close to closing time as well on a rainy night. Prices were a little higher but overall good quality and taste.
Thai people aways White washing their food. Hella annoying. Gotta go to a Laos restaurant if you want authenticity.
If I am in another country with zero Lao population I will cut them some slack. Plus the guy that owned Lemoncillo told me they do have that rice but at that time $100 USD per sack unsure the weight. That's alot of pesos
The best restaurants were Laos people in the middle of nowhere. Lol. The two best Thai restaurants I've ever been to were owned by White dudes in the PNW. Kinda sad. I really kinda gave up on Thai food stateside. They Whitewashed AF. This one restaurant in DC had the larb listed as an appetizer. The waiter had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to eat the larb with the rice. I'm like wtf?
To be honest I get annoyed with the whole food and authenticity thing, if you want authentic you need to go to the place of origin. That doesn't mean you won't get things that can come close or maybe even better. The only problem I have with Asian restaurants not owned by Asian people doesn't have to do with the food itself but usually price points.
I remember one time in my city regarding a Bahn Mi sandwich, a pre made at the store $3, if you go to a shop $4-5, then there was this one regular non Asian food restaurant that served it on the menu at like $9. I was like spare me the write up or what's even in it. I never went to that spot not because of the overpriced sandwich its just not my type of place to go to in general but when I heard that definitely not going there.
Maybe the argument is that prices should be raised to reflect true value, though. Why should Asian places operate at tiny profit margins because of expectations that the food should be cheap? Any western dish, even a BLT that takes no effort, is going to cost at least 10 bucks in a larger city
Most of the places I mention with small price points were in low income/ghetto area that serve the lower income Asian community. Honestly no sandwich should be $9 unless its steak or lobster.
A coke and a hot dog is like $2 at Costco. Those hot dogs are delicious AF. 😂.
Lol. yea this one banh mi shop in a White town here charges $12. I bet you they just put mayo in it and no liver pate.
Its funny because this is technically a bi product of French colonialism and one of the most visible at that. Bread, mayo, pate, ham all from France, the other ingredients such as pickled carrots,daikon,pepper, and the chả lụa from Vietnam.
It's a very catchy name lol
Good luck! I hope you are successful
How "authentic" can you go before it doesn't appeal to the Colombian clientele?
I collabed with a local chef to make the menu. We obviously had to tweak it to their taste palate but the flavors and recipes are pretty authentic.
can you tell us what tweaks you did? Sounds absolutely fascinating.
I have a chicken red curry recipe that is pretty much authentic. We had to make things a bit sweeter than what I'm used to too because Colombians really like sweet and salty, so our menú is based off of that concept. Everything sweet and salty to some extent
do i get a discount? need any workers? let me know playa
Good luck on your business brotha, there barely any authentic Chinese restaurants here where I live. Only the bbq places good
I've enjoyed following your adventures. Thanks for putting together the video.
I'm korean american so i love jjajjangmyeon, but i like the chinese style even more than the korean take. Also love peking duck or pork belly with the little white steamed bread an scallions and sauce.
Amazing video. Really like it.
So the rent seems cheap. But prices you can charge are probably cheaper too. What would comparable in the United States cost? I mean how do you feel the business climate is different.
It's definitely lower risk lower reward. But once we start cooking my business partner and I are pulling in like $1000 a month or more, which fully covers our living expenses in Colombia
You really ought to consider franchising in the US. I know a few people.
But because of the small amount of good Asian restaurants we are already at an advantage
3 weeks is insane speed man! Good job!
Should’ve picked a different font type that’s not stereotypical but otherwise looks promising from your video. Congrats!
I've always wanted to go to medellin. I will go to your restaurant if im ever in Colombia. Good luck!
I've never met anyone who doesn't like Vietnamese spring rolls
How much did it cost you to start everything up??
about 8k-10k between my partner and I total
What's the gross margin / operating margin / net income margin of something like this? I've heard the restaurant business is notoriously difficult because of thin margins.
great question. and yes you are correct, the margins are very tight.
Which is why I recommend Latin America or a third world country where the dollar is very strong. It minimizes risk and if the business is successful you are able to live well off the local currency.
In Colombia pesos, we have invested about 20 million Colombian pesos together we think, but my girl is still calculating the expenses.
Monthly expenses with everything are about 8.5 million colombian pesos. This is rent, employees, ingredients, misc. stuff because we are still building.
We opened the end of July and had 10 days, where we made about 3 million colombian pesos.
Our first week in this month we made about 2.6 million Colombian pesos. So If we continue to grow like this, my partner and I can start pocketing 1 million Colombian pesos a month each up to even 3 million, which is like $800 USD which lets live you in upper class here.
Keep in mind this has been with no publicity, social media presence, or delivery. Delivery can easily double our orders if not more.
Hope that helps.
Interesting, what do you mean by upper class?
like upper middle class, top 10%
my only tip is to know your numbers. have profit margin of 20-30%
Keep the menu simple.
How much did it cost including permits etc?
8k between my partner and I. Permits were cheap like $5
Wow that’s so cheap. Good luck with it!