Even the losers on TV's Food Wars Asia are now winners

Owners Daniel Lee and Joanne Ng (both above) of the Ru Ji Kitchen chain. There are three outlets which normally serve about 300 bowls of noodles a day each. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK
Owners Daniel Lee and Joanne Ng (both above) of the Ru Ji Kitchen chain. There are three outlets which normally serve about 300 bowls of noodles a day each. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK
Food Wars Asia host Michele Lean with Mr Anon Foo, who owns Wu Ke Shu Satay at Satay By The Bay in Marina Gardens Drive, and Mr Douglas Ng (above) of Fishball Story in Golden Mile Food Centre. Both stalls have seen new customers since the show aired.
Food Wars Asia host Michele Lean with Mr Anon Foo, who owns Wu Ke Shu Satay at Satay By The Bay in Marina Gardens Drive, and Mr Douglas Ng (above) of Fishball Story in Golden Mile Food Centre. Both stalls have seen new customers since the show aired. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK
Food Wars Asia host Michele Lean (left) with Mr Anon Foo (right), who owns Wu Ke Shu Satay at Satay By The Bay in Marina Gardens Drive, and Mr Douglas Ng of Fishball Story in Golden Mile Food Centre. Both stalls have seen new customers since the show
Food Wars Asia host Michele Lean (left) with Mr Anon Foo (right), who owns Wu Ke Shu Satay at Satay By The Bay in Marina Gardens Drive, and Mr Douglas Ng of Fishball Story in Golden Mile Food Centre. Both stalls have seen new customers since the show aired. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK

The six businesses in Singapore featured in the reality TV show are enjoying better business whether they lost or won

The six food businesses in Singapore which participated in reality TV show Food Wars Asia have seen improvements in business after the show - making them winners in their own right regardless of whether they won or lost on screen.

Food Wars Asia is a spin-off of the original American reality TV series, Food Wars. Re-runs of the show, which is on Food Network channel (StarHub TV Channel 433), start airing tomorrow.

Hosted by Malaysian Michele Lean, the 2014 winner of Asia-wide talent search Food Hero, it pits six pairs of eateries - each serving similar food - against one another and the winner is decided by a five-man panel made up of the eateries' loyal customers and personalities such as blogger Catherine Ling, who are subjected to a blind taste test.

Three of the six pairs of eateries featured are from Singapore.

They are burger joints Omakase Burger and Fatboy's The Burger Bar; Hainanese satay stalls Kwong Satay and Wu Ke Shu Satay, which serve satay with peanut sauce and pineapple puree; and fishball noodle stalls Fishball Story and Ru Ji Kitchen.

So excited was one viewer to try Kwong Satay's wares that he called the stall at 11pm after watching the show.

Mr Jeremy Lee, 38, director of Kwong Satay, said: "He commented that our satay looked fresh and authentic, unlike many of the satay he's eaten in recent years, which tasted processed and bland.

"We talked for nearly half an hour about good satay and how its marinade should have many spices."

Now, the stall at Lorong 29 Geylang sells about 11,200 sticks of satay a week, a 12 per cent increase from the 10,000 sticks a week before the show. In particular, sales of the pork belly satay have increased by more than 50 per cent.

The stall has also seen an increase in male customers, who seem to be white-collar workers in their 30s and 40s, Mr Lee said.

And although business at Wu Ke Shu Satay at Satay By The Bay in Marina Gardens Drive was good even before the show, boss Anon Foo has noticed slightly more customers coming with their families after the show aired.

He recalled an elderly man who waved him over, patted him on the shoulder and said: "This is the best Hainanese satay I've tasted. It's so much like the ones I had at the old Satay Club."

It turned out that his family, after watching the show, had taken him to Wu Ke Shu Satay to relive his memories of eating at Satay Club.

The fishball noodle stalls have also seen more customers, say Ru Ji Kitchen's owners Daniel Lee and Joanne Ng, both 33. They usually serve about 300 bowls of noodles a day at each of their three stalls, and have seen a 15 to 20 per cent increase in overall sales.

Although Fishball Story's owner Douglas Ng, 24, said that it was hard to give figures, he has seen new customers who work near his stall at Golden Mile Food Centre, after the show aired.

As for the burger joints, Omakase Burger's owner Cheng Hsin Yao, 30, said that he has seen new guests streaming in to both his restaurants at The Grandstand and Wisma Atria, saying that they had watched the show.

He added: "An American woman even recorded the episode and sent it to many of her friends. She also took them to our Grandstand outlet to try our burgers."

Chef Tan Huang Ming, who was on the show's judging panel, told Life! that for him, Omakase Burger's offerings make it unnecessary to have burgers from famous overseas brands such as In-N-Out Burger or Shake Shack.

He added: "I have a huge thing for ratio. Too often, I see towering burgers in restaurants which can't stand upright. While impressive-looking, each bite will never have the proper amount of meat, bread and cheese.

"Omakase's burgers have just the right ratio of those and the bun holds up till the last bite."

And 987FM radio presenter Gerald Koh, 30, who was also on the judging panel, said of Fatboy's The Burger Bar: "I love its laidback feel and usually take my family there for dinners. Call me weird, but I love to build my own burger with caramelised bananas, peanut butter, a beef patty and bacon strips. Nothing beats putting in your favourite ingredients to soothe personal cravings."

Mr Bernie Tay, 42, who co-owns Fatboy's The Burger Bar chain with his brother, also mentioned that he has received e-mail messages from the Philippines and Indonesia, asking if they are opening there soon.

He said: "We've also got people walking in recently and saying that I look more handsome on television. They need glasses."

sarahgyx@sph.com.sg

Food Wars Asia reruns air two episodes at a time, tomorrow, May 26 and June 2 on the Food Network channel (StarHub TV Channel 433) at 8pm.