We like merchants with a good story and yours… it’s quite delicious! Tell us all about the home-made ramen… 

First of all thank you for allowing us to tell our Manzoku story. They do say that to be a (food) entrepreneur, you must have passion, drive and discipline. Well this project is certainly a perfect blend of all three for me. Definitely I have an enormous passion for eating and cooking Asian foods, and I have worked and travelled much in the Far East before, and so many of my culinary loves and preferences stem from my past experiences and my own cultural heritage (I am Chinese!).

At home the family really enjoy eating Asian food, but Japanese has always been a particular favourite to cook. Before forming Manzoku we could spend whole days and weekends trying to make authentic Ramen noodles and soup broth from scratch in our home kitchen. Admittedly it wasn’t easy, and there were some lengthy trials and frustrations concerning making the fresh noodles on a pasta machine, but the end result was most definitely worth it!

Coincidentally thanks to our craft Ramen obsession, my husband also returned from a business trip to Tokyo and he had brought home a semi-fresh Ramen kit from Narita airport for us to try. It was a revelation – so simple yet delicious – and took only minutes instead of days! Then we researched it some more and realised that there was nothing else like this on the scene in Europe. It was both these significant scenarios, that really lead me to think more about this as future business idea.

Things seem to snowball pretty quickly after that, because once you have the intention and drive to do something, I do find that circumstances tend to err on the fortunate side. I took a Ramen-making course with a Japanese company, then after much deliberation we decided to purchase a dedicated noodle-making machine from Japan. Initially we made so many samples to friends and family, who all gave us so much valuable encouragement and support. The discipline part is sometimes harder, because I am having to learn so many new skill sets and utilise different industrial machinery to make this dream a reality, but so far so good!

I had certain values when creating our Manzoku fresh Ramen cooking kits – especially concerning the impact on the environment – and tried as best as (scientifically and commercially) possible to do that. The packaging was designed to use the least amount of materials and still keep a premium product fresh and protected. Similarly we only use local flours and have been blessed to get some quality types from Moulins de Kleinbettingen.

Manzoku was launched at the beginning of September 2019 and now you can find our fresh Ramen cookings kits in the Pall Center (Oberpallen, Strassen and Steinsel) and in our very own ‘pop-op’ shop in Howald.

What do you think makes Digicash and Manzoku a match made in heaven?

Why I think that Digicash and Manzoku are a match made in heaven? Quite simply, we have both created products that make life easier for the end-consumer. Digicash have made tremendous advances utilising technology at hand, so now making payments – peer-to-peer is especially great! – are so much more convenient and effective. Manzoku in turn, have created a tasty Japanese product, that has greatly reduced the time it would normally take to make an authentic bowl of Ramen from scratch, to a simple process that takes no longer than 5 minutes. Both perfect models of convenience and good taste!

What’s Manzoku’s biggest dream?

Our biggest dream for Manzoku is two-fold. In the short-term, we would love to reach as many people as possible with our craft Ramen products; introduce them to a different authentic Japanese cuisine other than sushi; then for them to view choosing this Japanese soulfood option as easily as they would do choosing pasta on a regular basis.

In the long-term for us as a company, we want to grow organically and look to exporting throughout Europe. Then depending on the success of our fresh Ramen cooking kits, we would love to expand our Japanese soulfood range with more new products in the future. All whilst enjoying and interacting with the fantastic “community – through social media platforms and additionally in our ‘pop-up’ shop – that has been generated since the start of our Ramen-making adventure. There has been so much amazing support and encouragement from friends, family and the community-at-large that we feel very optimistic going forward!