A love of shabu shabu (hotpot) - her go-to dish whenever she entertains at home - was enough to prompt former IT sales executive Jillian Kee to move into the modern-day butchery business. "The only two places that sell decent shabu shabu sliced meats are Meidi-Ya and Isetan," she declared.
When she found herself standing in a snaking queue at the supermarket during Chinese New Year this year, she decided to launch Asian Cutz with three other silent partners to deliver Japanese-style cuts of premium meats to customers' doorstep.
Asian Cutz has been open for only two months, and for now, it is sticking to a Web presence. Customers place their orders online.
Hoping to plug the gap in a traditional market where "most of the other butcheries are Western in style and focus on steaks and roast meats", Ms Kee provides shabu shabu slices and yakiniku cuts in Miyazaki A4 wagyu, New Zealand grass-fed sirloin, Momoiro pork collar and US kurobuta pork belly.
As Asian Cutz does not have facilities to process meat yet, she is relying on wholesale food purveyors such as Indoguna and Angliss Singapore to portion her beef and pork. She also specifies that her shabu shabu slices be cut 1.2mm to 1.5mm in thickness, instead of the typical 2mm. "It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture when it's sliced that thin," she explained.
Besides Japanese-style cuts, Asian Cutz offers sirloin steaks, chuck and short ribs. One of their bestsellers is Darling Downs wagyu, a wagyu-angus cross originating from Queensland, Australia, and supplied only to restaurants and cafes. With so many players in the market, Ms Kee believes that convenience is the biggest selling point for Asian Cutz.
"It is not just meats but an easy way to entertain at home," she said of the assortment of meat platters that customers can bundle with condiments such as Yuzu Pepper or Kewpie Deep-Roasted Sesame Dressing, as well as bubbly such as the Champagne Thienot "Alain Thienot" 2002.
"There is an entertainment and lifestyle angle to our business and it is very service-oriented. I'm hoping to recapture the old days of meat-buying, when you go to the market and the butcher provides personalised service by recommending you certain cuts," added Ms Kee.
This article was first published on October 18, 2014.
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